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Genetics of randomly bred cats support Fertile Crescent origin of domestic cats

Cat domestication likely initiated as a symbiotic relationship between wildcats (Felis silvestris subspecies) and the peoples of developing agrarian societies in the Fertile Crescent. As humans transitioned from hunter-gatherers to farmers ~12,000 years ago, bold wildcats likely capitalized on increased prey density (i.e., rodents). Humans benefited from the cats’ predation on these vermin. To refine the site(s) of cat domestication, over 1000 random-bred cats of primarily Eurasian descent were genotyped for single-nucleotide variants and short tandem repeats. The overall cat population structure suggested a single worldwide population with significant isolation by the distance of peripheral subpopulations.

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