Unlike other domesticated creatures, the house cat contributes little to human survival. Researchers have therefore wondered how and why cats came to live among people. Experts traditionally thought that the Egyptians were the first to domesticate the cat, some 3,600 years ago. But recent genetic and archaeological discoveries indicate that cat domestication began in the Fertile Crescent, perhaps around 10,000 years ago, when agriculture was getting under way. The findings suggest that cats started making themselves at home around people to take advantage of the mice and food scraps found in their settlements.
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