Around 8,000 years ago, cats started hanging around at farming communities, mainly to feed off mice and rats that were attracted to the crops. Cats being cats, at first they weren’t too bothered about the nearby humans. The humans, however, were happy for the cats to help out with their rodent problems. And so began a long spell of domestication — or semi-domestication, as most cat-owners will attest.
Despite living alongside humans for thousands of years, cats are still often considered semi-domesticated, unlike dogs. Dogs offered a whole range of helpful abilities, such as hunting, guarding, and herding. Cats, well, not so much — they have always tended to do their own thing. What’s more, while dog breeds are often more than 500 years old, most modern cat breeds only emerged within the last half century. House cats, therefore, have much more in common, genetically speaking, with their wildcat ancestors than dogs have with wolves — just look at a Chihuahua or a pug.
Today, however, cats are the most prevalent furry pet in the world. (Freshwater fish in aquariums outnumber both cats and dogs by a wide margin, but you can’t really hug a fish.) Cats are eccentric and often mysterious creatures, but for many cat-owners, that only makes them more lovable. Over the last few centuries, many famous figures have expressed their love and admiration for their feline companions, as the following quotes reveal.
I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.Jules Verne
There are no ordinary cats.Colette
The cat is above all things, a dramatist.Margaret Benson, author and Egyptologist
What greater gift than the love of a cat?Charles Dickens
If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.Mark Twain
I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.Jean Cocteau
If you want to be a psychological novelist and write about human beings, the best thing you can do is to keep a pair of cats.Aldous Huxley
A cat has absolute emotional honesty. Human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.Ernest Hemingway
Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat.Robert A. Heinlein
The cat does not offer services. The cat offers itself. Of course he wants care and shelter. You don’t buy love for nothing. Like all pure creatures, cats are practical.William S. Burroughs
If you’re feeling bad, you just look at the cats, you’ll feel better, because they know that everything is, just as it is. There’s nothing to get excited about. They just know. They’re saviors.Charles Bukowski
Cats know exactly where they begin and end. When they walk slowly out the door that you are holding open for them, and pause, leaving their tail just an inch or two inside the door, they know it. They know you have to keep holding the door open.Ursula K. Le Guin
In ancient times cats were worshiped as gods. They have not forgotten this.Terry Pratchett
I have lived with several Zen masters — all of them cats.Eckhart Tolle
I've met many irresponsible people in my life but never an irresponsible cat.Rita Mae Brown, author
Way down deep, we’re all motivated by the same urges. Cats have the courage to live by them.Jim Davis, creator of "Garfield"
Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are God. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are God.Christopher Hitchens
You can train cats to do anything they want to.Ricky Gervais
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