There’s so much we don’t know about the history of cats, but one study is giving us some clues. Are domestic cats really all that different from their wild counterparts? Are they the same the world over? And how did domesticated cats spread around the world? Evolutionary geneticist Eva-Maria Geigl and her colleagues from the Institut Jacques Monod in Paris studied the mitochondrial DNA of 209 cats found at archaeological sites in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. They ranged from a couple hundred to 15,000 years old. The DNA samples confirmed that cats were domesticated along with the rise in agriculture, as they were quite useful in rodent control.
Thousands of years later, cats descended from those in Egypt spread rapidly around Eurasia and Africa. A mitochondrial lineage common in Egyptian cat mummies from the end of the fourth century bc to the fourth century ad was also carried by cats in Bulgaria, Turkey and sub-Saharan Africa from around the same time. Sea-faring people probably kept cats to keep rodents in check, says Geigl, whose team also found cat remains with this maternal DNA lineage at a Viking site dating to between the eighth and eleventh century ad in northern Germany.
“There are so many interesting observations” in the study, says Pontus Skoglund, a population geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. “I didn’t even know there were Viking cats.” He was also impressed by the fact that Geigl’s team was able to discern real population shifts from mitochondrial DNA, which traces only a single maternal lineage. Nonetheless, Skoglund thinks that nuclear DNA — which provides information about more of an individual's ancestors — could address lingering questions about cat domestication and spread, such as their relationship to wild cats, with which they still interbreed.
Of course were are Viking cats! Ships’ cats appear to be the key to spreading the love of felines and their pest control superpowers around the world. The study also determined that calico cats didn’t exist until the Middle Ages. Learn more about the study at Nature. -via Digg
Cats can’t help but be happy when they’ve got an outdoor enclosure, rooms full of toys, good food, fresh catnip, each other to play with, and loving owners to snuggle with. I’ll never have that much infrastructure, but I will think about planting some catnip next year. -via Tastefully Offensive
K. John Stewart provided the voice over squirrel translation in this video, but Ramon the squirrel would like everyone to know that K.'s translation is correct. Here's the transcript:
Hello there, I am a fat little squirrel sitting on your porch. Thank you very much for giving me these delicious walnuts. I like them very much. You are a nice person. I will be sure to come back tomorrow to get some more walnuts. You are my favorite person in the neighborhood. I like you like you love you…
I normally cook a meal like this for Kohaku once a year on his birthday, but since I got a lot of requests to make a food for him, I decided to make this video. I’m going to make meals for human from next time. If you want to make a meal for your cats, please do research on which ingredients are okay to use. Also, make sure not to feed too much nor too often since it’s difficult to make a meal that are nutritious enough for cats.
This poor little mud-covered puppy was discovered by workers at a construction site in London. He was quickly sent to the nearest vet -the South Essex Wildlife Hospital to be cleaned up and saved, but after a little shampoo, his rescuers were shocked by what they found underneath.
That's right, the poor little muddy, debris-covered pup was actually an adorable little fox kit. Puppy or not, I'm sure this little cutie was happy to be rescued from his filthy cocoon.
Scrattie, like most dogs, doesn’t know where the destination will be when they get in the car. Often it’s just errands. Every once in a great while, they go to the dreaded veterinarian. But as soon as they make that left turn, Scrattie realizes they are going to the dog park!
Snakes get a bad rap what with being slithery and some of them being deadly and all, but that doesn't mean they can't be cute. If you aren't quite sure you can accept this as fact, you won't want to miss this precious video of a baby boa playing in his sandbox. Don't turn it off before the very end or you might miss the cutest part.
Warning: this footage is disturbing, on its way to a happy ending. It’s pretty nerve-wracking to see how many vehicles passed so close to a kitten that had fallen out of a vehicle, or even drove over it. Luckily none of them actually squashed the poor thing before a good Samaritan stopped to save it. Even he’s not sure at first whether the kitten is alive. It was obviously terrified stiff.
Ragdoll cats are all the rage in the last few years. They are big and fluffy and go limp when you pick them up. Artist and animator Simon Tofield tells us more about the breed, because he’s been drawing ragdolls.
I had a cat once that everyone insisted was a ragdoll, but I think she may have been a breeder’s reject because while she had all the other specifications, she wasn’t large. But she went limp just like the best of them.
They don't call them cat burglars for nothing, and a cat's thievery skills are an inspiration to crooks who want to commit crimes quietly and slink away scot-free.
But cats know nothing about the human legal system so they don't care if they get caught, and they can't help but show off all the stuff they've been boosting to their humans, which is how they get caught.
A shifty little kitty named Dory, aka Ninja Kitty or the Bad Kitty Bandit, has been prowling around a neighborhood in Washington stealing anything she can get her paws on, including two whole pairs of shoes.
You have to be pretty special to get a real swing inside your home. Maru is a world-famous celebrity cat, and he got one! But cats aren’t normally swingers, so this new contraption presented quite a puzzle to him. He doesn’t know what it is, but he knows he wants to get on it. Is he up to the challenge? You bet he is!
Lesser cats would have given up after a few failures, but lesser cats are not Maru. After many attempts, over who-knows-how-long, he masters the art of climbing onto the swing. That’s our Maru! -via Tastefully Offensive
Blossom (pictured on the left) came into the care of the North Shore Animal League in Port Washington, New York. Her eyes were so infected that they were ultimately removed. Blossom was taken in by Howard Stern and his wife Beth, who regularly foster cats until an adoptive home is found for them. Susan Smith and her family heard about Blossom and decided to adopt her, because they knew what they were getting into. They already had four blind cats! Now Blossom is right at home after a year with the Smiths and their other blind cats Ray, Cookie, Sabrina, and Donovan (Donovan also has cerebellar hypoplasia). The family has a seeing cat and a dog as well. Blossom and her cat colony are able to do pretty much anything sighted cats do. You can follow their lives at Instagram. -via Fark
Shanthi is a 41-year-old Asian elephant at the National Zoo in Washington, DC. She suffers from arthritis. The pain affected her stance, which led to foot problems. To give her relief, the veterinary staff approached the problem from several directions. That includes an experimental procedure used on horses ...and a set of Tevas!
According to an article at the Washington Post, Teva’s Director of Innovation went to China to supervise the making of Shanthi’s custom shoes, which were given to the zoo free of charge. She took a little while to get used to the shoes, but now obediently wears them, enabling veterinarians to keep her feet bathed in medications for extended periods. -via Metafilter
The 2017 Guinness Book of World Records will have a new entry for the cat who can do the most tricks in one minute. That’s Didga, the skateboarding cat (previously at Neatorama). The skateboarding put her over the top, because how many other cats do that?
The secret to training cats (or any animal) is to make compliance worth the effort to them. Didga may not show it on her face, but the opportunity to have as much fun as she does, plus a spot in the record book, is a big payoff. Trainer Robert Dollwet will tell you it’s certainly not as simple as explaining fame and fortune to a cat, but his methods work. And get this: since this video was made, Didga broke her own record by performing 24 tricks in one minute! Read more about Didga’s record at the Guinness site.
Herman the Cat is a little guy with big eyes and a deep soul. At least, he certainly seems to think a lot more about important matters than other kitties. Just here he seems to be wondering whether it's worth loving anyone if they're only going to die or stop loving you eventually.
And here he seems to have realized what hot dogs are really made of.
Of course, sometimes he does relax that big brain of his -and then he looks like one chill little kitty.
Photoshoppers of the internet beware- all that digital power is starting to go to your heads, and if your creations ever come to life Weird Science style the human race is doomed!
Take these lovely Meowls you've designed for example- they're majestic and appear to be harmless enough, but combine a cat's love of the hunt with flight and an owl's talons and you'll discover appearances are deceiving.
But Meowls may be the hybrid animal this world needs, considering how few rodents would be left to invade our homes after that predator X 2 goes to work on their population.
They also look like they possess a magical ability or two, like the ability to stare straight into our souls and determine whether we're their rulers or their servants.
It’s becoming more common to find crabs with beach trash homes. I have friends combing local beaches in search of more crabs for my series. While these are cute images, our trash is becoming a serious problem to the ocean and the animals that call the shoreline home. I often find hermit crabs using a variety of plastic caps from twist top pet bottles, laundry detergent containers, small propane tanks, sports water bottles and beauty supplies.
If you want a new dog, you can always look the classified ads of your local newspaper. However, you should be ready to puzzle out what the seller actually meant to say. Layout editing, autocorrect, and clueless spelling can turn a simple ad into a comedy of errors. These were all recently featured at Bad Newspaper.
* Cats can hear sounds as high as 50,000 vibrations per second— people can’t hear above the low 20,000s.
* Cats don’t have a great sense of taste, so they make food choices based on texture, scent, and appearance.
* Male cats were called rams or boars until 1760, when an anonymous writer published The Life and Adventures of a Cat. Its main character, Tom, achieved widespread popularity, and male cats got a new name: tomcats.
* Historians say you can probably thank (or blame) the Pilgrims for bringing the first domestic cats to the New World.
* Siamese cats are mostly white when they’re born. The markings come later.
* There are about 77.7 million pet cats in the United States.
* Nearly a third of all households have at least one cat. The average cat-owning home has 2.2 cats. About half of all American pet cats get presents during the holidays.