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As applied to different animal species, true commensals live entirely in houses with us, occasional commensals move between houses and outdoor habitats, and obligate commensals are those that can only survive in an area because of their ability to occupy houses. Not all commensal relationships are friendly ones: some consume crops, steal food, or harbor disease. Further, commensal does not necessarily mean "invited in": microscopic pathogens and bacteria, insects, and rats have commensal relationships with humans.

Black rats in northern Europe are obligate commensals, which is one of the reasons the medieval bubonic plague was so effective at killing people. The oldest archaeological evidence for cats living with humans is from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where several animal species including cats were introduced by B. The earliest known purposeful cat burial is at the Neolithic site of Shillourokambos. This burial was of a cat buried next to a human between years ago.

The archaeological deposits of Shillourokambos also included the sculpted head of what looks like a combined human-cat being.


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There are a few ceramic figurines found in the 6th millennium B. The first unquestioned evidence of cats smaller in size than the wildcat is from Tell Sheikh Hassan al Rai, an Uruk period calendar years ago [ cal BP ] Mesopotamian site in Lebanon. Up until very recently, most sources believed that domesticated cats became widespread only after the Egyptian civilization took its part in the domestication process.

Several strands of data indicate that cats were present in Egypt as early as the predynastic period, nearly 6, years ago. A cat skeleton discovered in a predynastic tomb ca. The cat, apparently a young male, had a broken left humerus and right femur, both of which had healed prior to the cat's death and burial. Reanalysis of this cat has identified the species as the jungle or reed cat Felis chaus , rather than F.

Continued excavations at the same cemetery at Hierakonpolis Van Neer and colleagues have found a simultaneous burial of six cats, an adult male and female and four kittens belonging to two different litters. The adults are F. The first illustration of a cat with a collar appears on an Egyptian tomb in Saqqara , dated to the 5th dynasty Old Kingdom , ca BC. By the 12th dynasty Middle Kingdom, ca BC , cats are definitely domesticated, and the animals are frequently illustrated in Egyptian art paintings and as mummies.

Cats are the most frequently mummified animal in Egypt. The feline goddesses Mafdet, Mehit, and Bastet all appear in the Egyptian pantheon by the Early Dynastic period—although Bastet is not associated with domesticated cats until later. In , Hu and colleagues reported evidence for early cat-human interactions during the Middle-Late Yangshao early Neolithic, 7,, cal BP period at the site of Quanhucun, in Shaanxi province, China. Eight F. Two of the cat jaw bones were radiocarbon dated between cal BP. The size range of these cats falls within that of modern domesticated cats.

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The archaeological site of Wuzhuangguoliang contained a nearly complete felid skeleton laid on its left side and dated to cal BP; and a third site, Xiawanggang, contained cat bones as well. All of these cats were from Shaanxi province, and all were originally identified as F. The presence of F. However, Vigne et al. European Journal of Medical Research. American Journal of Veterinary Research. The Spruce Pets. Archived from the original on 12 June Retrieved 6 June New York: Microsoft. Archived from the original on 2 October Retrieved 30 September Bantam Books.

Archived from the original on 15 April Retrieved 14 December January Cynda November Trends in Genetics. Veterinary Journal. Annual Review of Genetics. Archived from the original on 8 May Retrieved 31 January Polar Biology. Biological Reviews. Global Change Biology.


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    Cats and academia: a short history

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    Book Category Portal. Extant Carnivora species. Suborder Feliformia. African palm civet N. Marsh mongoose A. Bushy-tailed mongoose B.