Domestic cats hail from China: Study

(Fotolia)

(Fotolia)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:02 PM ET

Turns out people have been keeping domestic cats for at least 5,300 years, and new evidence suggests it didn't start with the cat-worshipping Egyptians, but with Chinese farmers.

Archeologists have found evidence of cats living among people as mousers as far back as 5,300 years ago in an ancient Chinese village, according to a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Until now, the earliest evidence of domesticated cats was from Egyptian art dating back 4,000 years.

Remains found in the village of Quanhucun in Shaanxi show that cats lived there and ate not only meat, but millet-based foods, suggesting they were fed by humans.

Also found were ceramic storage containers, which archaeologists believe were used to protect grain from rats,

"Taken together, isotopic and archaeological data demonstrate that cats were advantageous for ancient farmers," wrote the researchers.

"This study offers fresh perspectives on cat domestication, providing the earliest known evidence for commensal relationships between people and cats."


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