If not from hell, where did cats originate and how did they become rulers over our domains? Stephen O?Brien of the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Maryland conducted studies that point to a cat?s origins coming from The Near Eastern wildcat that prowled the Middle Eastern countries about 70,000 to 100,000 years ago. I can only imagine how much fun O?Brien?s study must have been, especially with the reputation that cats have for being about as cooperative as an ostrich in a feather factory. It can be most difficult to study a cat, especially a wild one, with its aloof attitude and nocturnal habits. However, it is widely accepted that those ancient cats are the furry felines who started the lineage that lead to today? Modern city kitty.
This brings us to the question of how people convinced cats to leave their desert dwellings and enter our tents. Since there are no eye witnesses to share the cat?s evolving story, we can only imagine the combined motivations of human and cat. Did humans invite the cats into their dwellings to control the rodent population? Could be, but I?ve never known a cat to accept an invitation without a persuasive payoff. Most likely, it was the cat?s idea to come into the man-made shelter, claim the softest cover, and expect us humans to deliver the goodies. Brings a whole new meaning to fast food, don?t you think?
Actually, it is much more plausible that cats stalked us as a new and easy source of food and shelter. Sure, there were still nomadic feline holdouts that preferred to catch their own tasty little morsels just for the pleasure of the hunt, but for the most part it was probably a satisfying partnership between cats and humans. Cats ruled?people served their rulers. It?s nice to know there are some things that never change.
One of the most obvious changes in the evolution of cats is not in its attitude, but in its appearance. Yesterday?s cats were of the leaner and meaner variety, being more in touch with their inner wildness. Today we have populated our homes with the coddled Garfield types that are willing to compromise their status for back scratches and a fresh plate of pate?. Fat has become the new normal, with over 50 percent of our domestic cats here in the United States suffering from obesity. With no need to physically exert themselves for food or stress themselves out to survive in the wild, cats are experiencing human conditions like diabetes, arthritis, and degenerative joint disease.
Few recognize the symptoms of these diseases in cats because they instinctively hide their pain to avoid alerting the enemy they may have a weakness. As far as one can conduct a successful study of cats, there was such a study done in 2002 in which a surprising number of older cats, 90 percent in fact, had signs of degenerative joint disease. There was also proof that pointed to a full two-thirds of cats exhibiting arthritis in either their shoulders, hips, elbows, knees, ankles, or all of the above. Who knew?
Who?s causing this phenomenon? For the most part, we are! When feeding cats, we humans must stop thinking in terms of cups and start thinking mouse size portions. The size of a mouse or small bird is all the meat and fat a cat needs before curling up for a much deserved nap. Cats don?t need to be free fed all day. After all, in the wilderness nobody lines up countless mice for a wild cat?s consumption. They don?t need foods loaded in carbs, sugars, or grains either. So please, stop looking for those sweet treats all wrapped up in fancy packages. One of the things that differentiate cats from all other mammals on the planet is that they cannot taste sweets. They are missing what we call the sweet gene. Joe Brand, with the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, confirms this saying ?They don?t taste sweet the way we do. They?re lucky. Cats really have bad teeth as it is.?
Wow?Is that ever an understatement! It doesn?t take a rocket scientist to attest to this fact, just a few people showing gapping wounds from an angry cat on Facebook or You Tube will do the trick. Even if your knowledge of cats is limited, most people know that a cat?s bite can result in a pretty serious infection. What they don?t realize is just how serious! Since it can be a very testy task to brush a cat?s teeth, cat owners tend to give up on the whole process. As a result, cats? mouths are little petri dishes, breeding grounds for a wide variety of rather robust bacteria. Princy N. Kumar, Medstar Georgetown University Hospital?s guru of infectious diseases has confirmed that half of those bitten by cats suffer painful infections that can result in septic shock and bone infections and may even require a hospital visit or extensive surgery.