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Question about the first domestic shorthair cats?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Where did the first domestic shorthair cats originate from, and who were the first to domesticate them? Did they come in a variety of colors or were all cats at one time one color and later bred for more colors/styles (like what we did with the wolf making all those different colored/breeds of dogs)

I know first thing you think with cats is the Egyptians keeping/worshipping them, but I thought those cats were the sphinx cats, not domestic shorthairs.

Were domestic shorthairs the result of breeding sphinx cats with hair?
post #2 of 16
No, cats evolved very differently from dogs... and the Sphynx is not an ancient cat, but one specifically bred to be almost hairless.

And that's about the limit of my knowledge! I'm sure there are others here who can tell you much more...
post #3 of 16
The 'original' cats started to hang around where humans stored food and dumped their rubbish, drawn to humans by the mess we create which attracts rodents, cats' natural prey.

Tabby markings are the 'natural' cat pattern, pretty much all wild cats are tabbies of one form or another. The stripes and irregular markings provide good camouflage in their natural environment, meaning they can hunt and survive better. More recently, humans would have selectively bred those cats with a genetic mutation for solid colour because they were a departure from the norm and unusual at first - and they wouldn't have survived long without human intervention as they are too visible amongst the dry grasses and bush of the savannah landscape. With shorthair and longhair, well longhair would be an evolutionary advantage in some climates, so those with a mutated gene causing them to grow long hair would have better survival rates in certain climactic conditions, meaning more longhair kittens surviving to adulthood in those areas - but shorthair is the natural form, cats originate from a warm dry climate.
post #4 of 16
I believe the eqyptians were the first to domesticate cats, for, like Epona said, rodent control in their stored crops. They were originally wild cats. Now keep in mind this was a very very long time ago, like over 1,000 years ago. Cats would be on ships when they sailed and get off in new ports and owners would move and bring their cats with them, that's how they populated the whole world, there was no spaying and neutering back then Different breeds are usually from different parts of the world and that's where the specific breeding took place to "perfect" a breed's look.
post #5 of 16
It's thought that all "domestic" cats originated from the African wild cat, and that crosses with the European wild cat produced longhaired types. No one will probably ever know for sure, but the first people to appreciate the cat's unique abilities and beauty were most likely the Egyptians and other Africans, many of whom still regard the cat very highly to this day.
post #6 of 16
All domestics are believed to be decended from Felis silvestris (wildcat) which has 5 subspecies ranging from Africa, Europe, Asia, and India.

Felis silvestris silvestris
Felis silvestris lybica
Felis silvestris cafra
Felis silvestris ornata
Felis silvestris bieti

With our own domestic cats being Felis silvestris catus
post #7 of 16
See? I told you some smart people would show up!

I can mention one interesting point: tabby markings are so thoroughly hardwired that even most solid-color cats (at least among non-purebreds) will still show a faint trace of tabby. My Clyde is a bicolor, white with black splotches -- but in bright sunlight, if I look closely, I can see a very faint reddish tabby pattern in his black fur!
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Ok that basically answers most of my questions, except for 2 more I thought of.

1. Did anyone domesticate this breed and breed them so they still look like the wild cats, just not wild anymore in personality?(like dog standards you see at dog shows, they have to represent their breed perfectly)

Felis silvestris silvestris

I would assume they would be considered "wild big cats" even though they arent that big and would need a permit to own nowadays.

2. Why dont ferals revert back to the "wild" color. Like the onesthat live life never eating people food or coming in contact with people (such as ones living in thick forests) Why do they still come in various colors if lets say a wolf or coyote could spot them in that forest they live in? You would think they would all blend in to their surroundings?
post #9 of 16
Your second question is a very good one!

Perhaps they don't totally revert back to the tabby coloring completely because some feral colonies are always being added to by the pet population, which has a more diverse genetic makeup when it comes to fur color. Some fur colors can be dominant over tabby with the right combinations. I'm no geneticist, though. Maybe one of the more knowledgeable breeders can give an example.
post #10 of 16
Your first second question. No one has tried to domesticate the European Wild cat because they are completely and utterly feral and wild. Kittens raised with domestic cats turn into dangerous wild creatures when they grow up.

Even mixes (which do happen) are completely uncontrollable, feral and make very bad pets. The European Wildcat is much "wilder" when it comes to interacting with humans than the Asian Leopard Cat for example.

So when you have normal cats around that looks very similar to the European Wildcat the motivation to try and tame the wild version down is very low.

I remember seeing studies released quite recently about the origins of domestic cats. Ok just googled and found it: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6251434.stm

As for if there are still breeds that look like the original wild cat, sort of, they're ticked tabbies with a fair bit of striping in as well which is a pattern that can show up in moggies.

Cats haven't changed nearly as much as dogs did when they were domesticated.

Here's the lybica subspecies, that's the one they think got domesticated and then spread around (it then could have mated with local wild cat species once they were in the area)

Here's the European Wilcat, you can see it looks a bit more different. Especially the end of the tail which is very round and full.

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for answering the questions!

The lybica subspecies does look like a ticked tabby, except from the pictures it's legs look a bit longer.

The European Wildcat doesnt look (patterwise) like domestic cats in general, BUT, it's body type reminds me of large feral male cats, the ones who are in charge and produce the most offspring.

Although I have seen a large male feral who face and body were built like the european wildcat, the tail even looked round, he's BIG and the boss. But his coat pattern doesnt make him look like the wildcat.

Either way I have learned alot and i'm sure others have done the same.
post #12 of 16
About those domestic cats that end up in the wild and breed in feral colonies... I'm sure if they were left undisturbed long enough (I'm thinking thousands of years), natural selection would take its course: little by little, the particular colors, patterns, and other characteristics that enable individual cats to survive and reproduce in the wild would become more common, and those that make them more vulnerable would gradually be selected against, as fewer of the vulnerable cats would survive to contribute to the gene pool.

Of course, different climates and living conditions would make different characteristics desirable -- so in snowy places, white Persians might thrive, but they'd be at a terrible disadvantage in the tropics, for example.

Y'know, though... I've always wondered about tigers. Stripes are supposed to help confuse the eyes of prey (and predators), and that makes sense -- but with that vivid orange and white coloring, how do tigers blend in anywhere?

And see, there's also that dancing thing. That's bound to get them noticed, too.

Anyway... maybe tigers don't have to blend in, since they're the most fearsome creatures around (aside from stupid humans with guns). But that coloring has to be there for some solid evolutionary reason. Any ideas?
post #13 of 16
I think that living in the jungle, the tiger's colors and stripes do play a big roll in camouflaging him... maybe it has something to do with streaks of sunshine coming in thru the canopy type of scenario?? just guessing here
post #14 of 16
Originally Posted by katiemae1277 View Post
I think that living in the jungle, the tiger's colors and stripes do play a big roll in camouflaging him... maybe it has something to do with streaks of sunshine coming in thru the canopy type of scenario?? just guessing here
But that doesn't explain the dancing...what about the dancing?
post #15 of 16
I forgot about the dancing! I think that's to put their prey in a trance yeah, that it's!!
post #16 of 16
It wouldn't take thousands of years for the wild colour to get back. It happens *very* quickly with domestic rabbits that escape and also packs of feral dogs tend to evolve quite quickly as well back into a wild type.

However with cats there are a few factors, one is that pets are always being added to the feral cat pool and breeding with them so the non-tabby colours get reinforced all the time. What does get weeded out quite quickly in the feral cat populations are extreme body types though.

I.e you won't see short faced persian look a likes or the extreme siamese type cats a few generations into a feral cat colony. They can be a bit on the thinner side or on the more cobby. I.e a bit more like the african wildcat or a bit more like the european wildcat but the extreme bred in types go away quickly.

As for the tiger stripes. Most of the tiger's prey is somewhat colourblind and doesn't see the difference between red/orange and green. Vertical branches and bamboo then make the stripes make sense

The rosettas in leopards and jaguars are to simulate the dapples shafts of sunlight breaking through foliage.
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