Humans and dogs have been up in each other's business since, oh, before the dawn of recorded history. The friendship/grudging mutual arrangement between humans and cats, however, is a more recent affair, long thought to date to roughly 1950 B.C. Turns out they've maybe been putting up with us even longer, though!
Bet it only took them about two weeks to start shedding all over the bed. Adorable, sociopathic freeloaders.
Pacific Standard reports on findings from the Egyptian city of Hierakonpolis, which is even older than the pyramids. Archeologists found evidence of the distant ancestors of our fine feline friends almost 2,000 years older than previously estimated:
A group burial from around 3700 B.C.E. included a young adult jungle cat featuring a healed bone fracture. This indicates "the animal had been tended to for several weeks prior to its sacrifice," which means it was a domestic cat—at least for the final stage of its life.
They also found a pit with six cats, probably sacrifices. They conclude:
"It is clear that there was a close relationship with humans that predate the oldest accepted evidence for domestic cat in Egypt by almost two millennia," writes a research team led by Wim Van Neer of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.
If that's really how this relationship got started, no wonder cats periodically shred our clothes and barf on our carpets.
Of course, it's a big leap from trapping jungle cats to the Fancy Feast mascot. But archeologists are working on that, too. The Atlantic points to evidence from China, suggesting that cats started hanging around humans when we took up agriculture—thereby attracting loads of rodents, ripe for the snacking.
Presumably they're sticking around because it takes opposable thumbs to open a can of stinky wet catfood.
Photo via Shutterstock.