The history of the world according to cats – Eva-Maria Geigl


On May 27th, 1941, the German battleship
Bismarck sank in a fierce firefight, leaving only 118 of her
2,200 crew members alive. But when a British destroyer came to
collect the prisoners, they found an unexpected survivor – a black and white
cat clinging to a floating plank. For the next several months this cat
hunted rats and raised British morale – until a sudden torpedo strike shattered
the hull and sank the ship. But, miraculously, not the cat. Nicknamed Unsinkable Sam, he rode to Gibraltar with the rescued crew and served as a ship cat on three more vessels – one of which also sank – before
retiring to the Belfast Home for Sailors. Many may not think of cats as serviceable
sailors, or cooperative companions
of any kind. But cats have been working alongside
humans for thousands of years – helping us just as often as we help them. So how did these solitary creatures go
from wild predator to naval officer to sofa sidekick? The domestication of the modern house cat can be traced back to more than
10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent, at the start of the Neolithic era. People were learning to bend nature
to their will, producing much more food than
farmers could eat at one time. These Neolithic farmers stored their excess
grain in large pits and short, clay silos. But these stores of food attracted
hordes of rodents, as well as their predator,
Felis silvestris lybica – the wildcat found across North Africa
and Southwest Asia. These wildcats were fast, fierce,
carnivorous hunters. And they were remarkably similar in size
and appearance to today’s domestic cats. The main differences being that ancient
wildcats were more muscular, had striped coats, and were less social
towards other cats and humans. The abundance of prey in rodent-infested
granaries drew in these typically solitary animals. And as the wildcats learned to tolerate the
presence of humans and other cats during mealtime, we think that farmers likewise tolerated
the cats in exchange for free pest control. The relationship was so beneficial that
the cats migrated with Neolithic farmers from Anatolia into Europe
and the Mediterranean. Vermin were a major
scourge of the seven seas. They ate provisions and
gnawed at lines of rope, so cats had long since become
essential sailing companions. Around the same time these Anatolian
globe trotting cats set sail, the Egyptians domesticated
their own local cats. Revered for their ability to dispatch
venomous snakes, catch birds, and kill rats, domestic cats became important
to Egyptian religious culture. They gained immortality in frescos,
hieroglyphs, statues, and even tombs, mummified alongside their owners. Egyptian ship cats cruised the Nile, holding poisonous river snakes at bay. And after graduating to larger vessels, they too began to migrate
from port to port. During the time of the Roman Empire,
ships traveling between India and Egypt carried the lineage of the
central Asian wildcat F. s. ornata. Centuries later, in the Middle Ages,
Egyptian cats voyaged up to the Baltic Sea on the ships of Viking seafarers. And both the Near Eastern
and North African wildcats – probably tamed at this point —
continued to travel across Europe, eventually setting sail for
Australia and the Americas. Today, most house cats have descended from either the Near Eastern
or the Egyptian lineage of F.s.lybica. But close analysis of the genomes and
coat patterns of modern cats tells us that unlike dogs, which have undergone
centuries of selective breeding, modern cats are genetically
very similar to ancient cats. And apart from making them
more social and docile, we’ve done little to alter
their natural behaviors. In other words, cats today are more or
less as they’ve always been: Wild animals. Fierce hunters. Creatures that don’t
see us as their keepers. And given our long history together,
they might not be wrong.

100 thoughts on “The history of the world according to cats – Eva-Maria Geigl”

  1. I don’t want a history lesson, I wanna see narcissistic cats telling us how great they are and we are all their slaves.

  2. One time I embarrassed my cat
    Me and my sis where petting her on a chair and she was rolling over and stuff when she fell of the chair, hissed at us and ran away lol 🙂 she's now a 12 year old kitty who spends her days siting on our back porch chairs sleeping and begging us for pets. She probly thinks she is our owner honestly

  3. I had a cat that brought me enough kill to feed me, Rabbits, squirrels, and birds mostly. There were days he would bring 4 or 5 rabbits that were as big as he was and leave them on the mat outside my back door.

  4. It's another reason cats live longer than dogs because we left their genes to do the talking, not us. Dogs have a lot of health issues because we have given them a lot of gene changes

  5. Very nice to know! When I was a child, I also read a book which told how twice as many Europeans would have died during the plagues of the 14th and 15th centuries had it not been for the cats who ate the rodents. Who knows, millions of us may owe our existence to them and their work.

  6. My cat who is quite chunky screams for food and drags his food and water dishes around the house, one night he did it at 2am and I legitimately thought someone was breaking into our house. So I definitely agree that cats have not forgotten that they were worshiped like gods.

  7. Cats used to only meow when they were kittens. But then they realized that babies were stealing the attention. So what they did is started meowing at the pitch that babies cry. I must be a sociopath because I'm not going to feed you until j wake up it's 3 in the morning for God's sake

  8. dogs: these people are feeding me. they must be gods

    cats: these people are feeding me. I must be their god

  9. I thought this would be our world's history from a cat's point of view, but then again I guess that wouldn't be very interesting.

    World War II is going on, and all cats are thinking is, "Ugh. Humans making a lot of noise outside. Wish they'd shut up and let me sleep."

  10. I love my cat
    She comes when we call her and she doesn’t want to be alone, and she is fine with being hugged and being pet
    She loves to eat and she manages to trick us into feeding her
    She doesn’t know how to hunt.
    She knows how to do tricks.

    Wait. Am I taking care of a dog..?

  11. I just saw a post in 9gag; "unsinkable sam"

    6 hours later

    gets recommended by this video

    Me: visible coincidence

  12. Aaaaaand then I watch my own squishy bellied fluff ball who thinks he's the youngest child of the family and gets ME to get the rodents.🤷‍♀️🤦‍♀️
    Or he leaves whatever he's caught to have his 'proper' din dins, usually that thing he's caught is well and truly alive and placed upon my foot. NOT impressive Mr.
    And they say they have a wild side HA!!!!

  13. I don’t see any reason why cats are loved-I mean attachment love like humans are really close with them and treat them like human children. If cats just use us as a way to get pampered and free food they don’t seem to deserve love. The same goes for cats too I’m sure they just tolerate us but will never like or love us back in any way because they don’t need to.

  14. That's the thing though, I don't think domestic cats were ever indoor cats until recently, so with all these owners who are afraid to let their cats outside… it could bring on a change that will effect future breeds of indoor cats. I'm happy I let mine outside, but it's not like I'm breeding them, they're neutered, so their genes won't be contributing to thfuture breeds, which is a real shame because they're very obidient for a cat, almost like a dog, and they're very good hunters.

  15. There called domestic cats not cat whats wrong with your spelling Egypt people dont worship cats they worship domestic cats

  16. This is the history of cats according to humans.

    I expected a view from the cats perspective, like they are being enslaved to serve on ships and so on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *