Researchers Let the Cats Out of the Bag

Feline genes reveal lessons of past, guidance for future
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Mar 17, 2008 12:57 PM CDT
The UC Davis study confirmed that cats originated in the Fertile Crescent 10,000 years ago.    (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – Cats don't talk, but their genes can tell a good story, and they're revealing plenty about the animal's 10,000-year history. DNA samples from more than 1,100 cats, from fancy show breeds to wild animals from around the world, are confirming earlier discoveries as well as refuting some claims, reports the Washington Post. Persians, for instance, appear to be Western European in origin.

And on the molecular level, fluffy Persians and exotic shorthairs are surprisingly similar. "When you look at those two breeds, you can't distinguish them from one another," says researcher Leslie Lyons (really). The researchers confirmed that cats were first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent as humans turned from herding to farming. They found, to the surprise of nobody who's ever had one, that cats "kind of domesticated themselves."