Scientists Discover Proof That Cats Lived Off Humans More Than 5,000 Years Ago


Scientists say they have discovered the first proof that cats have been living off humans for more than 5,000 years.

The new archaeological study sheds light on the moment the first wildcats stopped hunting for themselves and started scrounging off humans.

An archaeological dig at the ancient Chinese farming village of Quanhucun has uncovered the remains of humans, cats, pigs, rodents and deer who lived side-by-side at some point around 5,300 years ago.

By analysing chemical traces found in the remains at the site, scientists found the cats were preying on animals which survived on farmed millet, probably rodents.

There was evidence that the humans suffered from rat problems, with burrows leading into storage pits and ancient rodent-proof millet pots.

Some cats were also found to have higher quantities of millet than expected in their own diets, suggesting that they were fed by humans.

The results of the dig by Washington University were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

They are now being followed up by further studies based in China and France looking at where the cats involved were descendants of the Near Eastern Wildcat, which is believed to be the ancestor of most of the estimated 600 million domestic cats now living worldwide.