Some 10,000 years ago, somewhere in the Near East, an audacious wildcat crept into one of the crude villages of early human settlers, the first to domesticate wheat and barley. There she felt safe from her many predators in the region, such as hyenas and larger cats.Study Traces Cat's Origins To The Middle East (New York Times, 29 June 2007)
The rodents that infested the settlers’ homes and granaries were sufficient prey. Seeing that she was earning her keep, the settlers tolerated her, and their children greeted her kittens with delight.
At least five females of the wildcat subspecies known as Felis silvestris lybica accomplished this delicate transition from forest to village. And from these five matriarchs all the world’s 600 million house cats are descended.[...]
Unlike other domestic animals, which were tamed by people, cats probably domesticated themselves, which could account for the haughty independence of their descendants.
Mister Gato adds: Soon after we domesticated ourselves, cats began drinking Neolithic man's coffee. (Okay, actually there's water in that cup. Coffee is bad for cats.)
See more bloggers' pets at The Modulator's Friday Ark; this Sunday, the Carnival of the Cats is hosted by The Scratching Post.