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Old 20 June 2017, 03:11 AM
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Default Cats Domesticated Themselves, Ancient DNA Shows

The latest study on cats says pretty much the only thing we did to domesticate them was the tabby coat:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2...-pets-science/

Quote:
Researchers surveyed the DNA of more than 200 cats spanning the last 9,000 years, including ancient Romanian cat remains, Egyptian cat mummies, and modern African wildcat specimens. Two major cat lineages contributed to the domestic feline we know today, they report in a study published Monday in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

The earlier ancestors of today’s domestic cats spread from southwest Asia and into Europe as early as 4400 B.C. The cats likely started hanging around farming communities in the Fertile Crescent about 8,000 years ago, where they settled into a mutually beneficial relationship as humans’ rodent patrol. (See little-known small cats in “Out of the Shadows, the Wildcats You’ve Never Seen.”)
I know we've had a few threads on the subject of where, when, and how housecats came to be, but I thought there was one that advanced the theory that they were attracted to our garbage, rather than pests in our pantries and now I can't find it.
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Old 20 June 2017, 03:54 AM
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I think that's more of a theory regarding the domestication of the dog: canines are more prone to scavenging than felines are.
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Old 20 June 2017, 04:09 AM
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Actually, I suspect the dogs domesticated us.

Then the cats came along and took us both over.
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Old 20 June 2017, 06:09 AM
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There's actually some evidence that dogs weren't originally domesticated for hunting companions or night guards, but as food.
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Old 20 June 2017, 02:03 PM
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Some societies certainly use/used dogs for all three purposes (as well as, in some cases, draft animals.)

And I wouldn't be surprised if this was also true at the beginning of the process -- it actually seems to me more likely that we occasionally ate dog when we were hungry enough, and/or when there were excess pups, and/or when an agressive individual got to be too much trouble, than that we didn't.

But what I find interesting is the very common assumption that "domestication" was entirely the idea of the humans, combined with the assumption that humans were entirely unchanged by the process. I very much doubt that either of those things is true.
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Old 20 June 2017, 02:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
Actually, I suspect the dogs domesticated us.
You've seen (one of) the (many) memes, probably: "We were wolves once, wild and wary. Then we noticed you had sofas" (accompanied by a photo of a dog sprawled on a couch).

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Then the cats came along and took us both over.
Sounds about right.
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Old 20 June 2017, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Cats Domesticated Themselves, Ancient DNA Shows
Of course they did. To have done otherwise would have been a sign of weakness.

~Psihala
(*Alright, fine. We'll come live with you, but under our terms!)
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Old 20 June 2017, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
Then the cats came along and took us both over.
I disagree that cats took over dogs. They would have evaluated the situation and noticed that dogs' lack of hands would prevent them from opening doors, opening cans of food (cats plan ahead), or scritching cheeks. Also, cats knew that dogs would never invent the book, pillow, computer keyboard, or pizza box, eliminating things for cats to lay on. So cats would have realized that there was no point in domesticating dogs and would have settled for keeping them out of the way.
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Old 20 June 2017, 04:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Esprise Me View Post
but I thought there was one that advanced the theory that they were attracted to our garbage, rather than pests in our pantries and now I can't find it.
What would one find around a pile of rotting garbage?

OY
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Old 20 June 2017, 05:37 PM
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I'm surprised that the tabby coat gene is a human intervention, not a natural trait. I'd always thought that the tabby coat came about naturally as camouflage.
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Old 20 June 2017, 08:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
I disagree that cats took over dogs. They would have evaluated the situation and noticed that dogs' lack of hands would prevent them from opening doors, opening cans of food (cats plan ahead), or scritching cheeks. Also, cats knew that dogs would never invent the book, pillow, computer keyboard, or pizza box, eliminating things for cats to lay on. So cats would have realized that there was no point in domesticating dogs and would have settled for keeping them out of the way.
I've known a number of cats who felt that particular dogs were good for playing with and/or sleeping curled up with.

Also, dogs are good for defending cats from predators larger than the cats.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DawnStorm View Post
I'm surprised that the tabby coat gene is a human intervention, not a natural trait. I'd always thought that the tabby coat came about naturally as camouflage.
Me too. And the pictures I can find of the related wildcats show a mix of stripes and spots, including some patterns I'd definitely call "tabby". Here's one on Wikipedia, for instance. ETA: whoops, that's the European wildcat, which apparently does interbreed but isn't thought to be directly ancestral. Here's Wikipedia's African/Near Eastern wildcat example: also partially striped, though not as much so.

I wonder if by "tabby" the article means not striped, but some specific pattern?
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Old 20 June 2017, 08:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
I've known a number of cats who felt that particular dogs were good for playing with and/or sleeping curled up with.

Also, dogs are good for defending cats from predators larger than the cats.
My 2 Aussie dogs have always enjoyed a good chase with cats [and I wouldn't be surprised if they maimed them if caught], but a friend's cat, who has 2 canine "siblings" was not impressed at my 2 dogs barking and chasing. He just walked right up to them and did, well, nothing. Just stood there and didn't run. My dogs were completely baffled and stopped bothering the cat. It was quite a sight to behold.

OY
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Old 20 June 2017, 11:41 PM
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A cat who knows what they're doing can very often deal with a dog (multiple dogs may be a different sort of problem.)

The mistake that cats who don't know how to deal with dogs generally make is to run. With dogs, as sometimes with humans and occasionally with other species, the individual that is distinctly not acting like prey is less likely to be attacked.


-- having said that: Young Cat, what I saw out the window that day was unnecessarily risky. Yes, by the time I got out the door that strange dog you'd charged at was several hundred feet down the road and receding fast. But you were right next to the barn to start with, and could easily have gotten upstairs and out of reach before it could have caught up to you!


-- Dogs who are raised with cats starting when they're puppies will rarely attack them; though sometimes a strange cat isn't safe even though their own pack cats are in no danger from them.
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Old 21 June 2017, 12:57 AM
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There's a hilarious video compilation making the rounds on YouTube of dogs being completely cowed by cats.
ETA: found it!

Last edited by Esprise Me; 21 June 2017 at 01:02 AM.
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Old 21 June 2017, 02:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
But what I find interesting is the very common assumption that "domestication" was entirely the idea of the humans, combined with the assumption that humans were entirely unchanged by the process. I very much doubt that either of those things is true.
I agree. Isn't it likely that it was a mutual domestication regarding both cats and dogs? Yeah, humans did our part, but it probably was a case of all parties seeing a mutual benefit to the relationship.
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