New evidence from an archaeological dig in Egypt may rewrite the ancient origins of when mankind and feline first settled, perhaps reluctantly, into one another's lives.
According to a study published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, previous estimates stating that cats were first domesticated around 1950 BC are likely off by nearly 2,000 years.
Excavations of a cemetery in the ancient Egyptian city of Hierakonpolis recently uncovered a small pit containing six sacrificial cats dating back to approximately 3700 BC, more than a thousand years before the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza. It is unclear how exactly the animals were regarded prior to the burial, but evidence strongly suggests that they had been cared for by people for at least some time.
One of the felines, described as a young jungle cat, was found to have a healed bone fracture, indicating "the animal had been tended to for several weeks prior to its sacrifice," the study notes.
"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."
While the discovery of an ancient feather toy or litter box would be happier evidence of cat domestication than their sacrificed remains, perhaps it does help explain why cats today sometimes seem still undecided on just what they think of us.