cats are one of the most beloved pets worldwide, next to dogs. It was widely believed that cats were first domesticated in Egypt 4,000 years ago however, their history among humans actually goes back much further. While it has now been determined that wild cats lived among people in Mesopotamia over 100,000 years ago, they were domesticated around the same time as dogs, sheep and goats approximately 12,000 BC. Recent archaeological excavations have provided evidence that the Near Eastern Wildcat is the closest relative of the modern-day domestic cat and was bred by Mesopotamian farmers, most likely as a way of controlling pests, such as mice, which were attracted by grain supplies.
Cats have been revered for centuries by various cultures, most notably the ancient Egyptians. In fact, the Egyptians are responsible for the actual name `cat’ in that it derives from the North African word for the animal, “quattah”, and as the cat was so closely associated with Egypt, practically every other European nation applies variations on this word. The goddess Bastetwas among the most popular deities, portrayed as a cat or as a woman with a cat’s head. She was the keeper of hearth and home, protector of women’s secrets, guardian against evil spirits and disease, and the goddess of cats. This worship of the cat resulted in the establishment of a penalty prior to 450 BC in Egypt, whereby the killing of a cat resulted in death.
The devotion to the cat is also noted in India. The Indian cat goddess, Sastht, served much the same role as the Egyptian goddess, Bastet. The cat was highly regarded throughout homes, farms and even palaces due to its serviceability with controlling the pest population of less desirable creatures such as mice, rats and snakes.
It is generally thought that the Phoenicians introduced the cat to Europe by the traders possibly smuggling them out of Egypt. While the Phoenicians are well known for having traded extensively with every known civilization of the time, cats may have been routinely introduced to the region. It is well documented that cats were kept on ships to control vermin during the time of the 15th century Age of Discovery and, it’s plausible, they served the same purpose for the Phoenicians.
The maneki-neko or “beckoning” cat is a famously common cat figure popular with the Japanese. It is a cat with its paw lifted and it moves back and forth as if it is waving. This figurine can be found in numerous places now throughout the world and it is believed to bring good luck. Within the last few decades, shop owners in China have begun keeping a cat or a cat statue on their sales counter in the hope it will increase business.
Pet ownership has proven benefits to both our health and social well-being. In fact, in Canada there has been an upward trend established toward the number of households owning a cat or dog since 2004, with 8.8 million cats versus 7.6 million dogs considered as pets in 2016.
There has been a boom in the pet economy in Asia with the ‘humanization’ of pets. The annual growth rate of the pet care industry in Asia between 2017- 2022 is expected to be 8 per cent, making this one of the few mass market industries seeing rapid growth. China has become the third largest pet owning country after the US and Japan, with over 100 million pets. The pet economy now encompasses an array of services, from grooming, manicures, pet furniture and carriers, numerous types of fresh and raw food, treats and baked goods as well as the huge market for pet toys. According to industry trends, projections for the pet business will continue with its constant upward growth unabated. In 2017, 69.51 billion was spent on pets in just the United States alone.
Cats are capable of developing extremely strong bonds with people and are often preferred to the dog due to their ease of care. Cats tend to be more affordable since they don’t require daycare or regular dog walking services, the neutering procedure is also less costly. Cats are uncanny, solitary hunters that have the ability to understand how things work without being trained.
Cats are known for their cleanliness, self-sufficiency and independent nature and they certainly don’t require the space of a dog. In fact, more and more cat owners are keeping their kitties indoors for safety reasons due to the various predators living within the residential areas.
Cats are often considered to be standoffish however, they are more susceptible to stress. This can result anywhere from family separation anxiety to slight changes within the home or routine. It is common knowledge that cats have the tendency to hide illnesses which is why it is so important to consider the degree of illness prior to taking kitty to the vet. The age of the cat and the resulting stress should also be taken into consideration since they are so reluctant to changing their surroundings even if only temporarily.
Both dogs and cats are the most popular family pets and while both have their pros and cons, concerning their upkeep, humans will continue to cherish their relationships with them, treat them as another family member and reside with them in harmonious perpetuity.
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