MOV File
Online Collections


Term Type

Art & Architecture Thesaurus

Preferred Term



Domesticated member of the genus Felis, domesticated in Egypt ca. 2000 BCE, in Cyprus by 9,500 years ago, probably earlier elsewhere in the Middle East. In some taxonomies, Felis domesticus and Felis sylvestris are the same species. Genetic evidence suggests that the domestic cat developed from a subspecies of wild cat, Felis sylvestris lybica. The house cat appears to have been domesticated as long as 10,000 to 12,000 years ago in the Middle East, when humans recognized its value in protecting granaries from rodents. Egyptian affection and respect for this predator led to the development of religious cat cults and temple worship of cats. Since tabby-like markings appear in the drawings and mummies of ancient Egyptian cats, present-day tabbies probably look much like the sacred cats of Egypt. The first known domestic variation on the wild tabby coloring was the black cat (which also occurs naturally in the wild, but not in great numbers). The darker tabby coat with thicker stripes and swirls probably first appeared in the Middle Ages, the coat pattern being an adaptation that helped the animal to hide better in the shadows of dark medieval streets. The tortoise shell coat probably developed in the 19th century, when the Victorians made cats beloved pets and bred them for color varieties and other characteristics. Until the recent genetic studies, some experts believed the domestic cat was a hybrid of Felis Sylvestris and an Egyptian forest cat that was more docile and also kept in some Egyptian temples.


Felis domesticus

domestic cats

domestic cat

house cats

house cat


Felis domestica

Felis catus

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