A dog may be a human’s best friend, but cats aren’t far from it either. Worshiped since the times of ancient Egypt, these lovely furry creatures sure know ways to people’s hearts. Therefore, it will probably come as no surprise that even long before the era of the internet and YouTube, cat videos were already popular. Back in 1894, inventor Thomas Edison filmed two kittens “boxing” inside a ring, and this just proves the fact that humans have long been obsessed with cute cat content way before it was cool.
However, one thing that separates dogs from cats is how they became domesticated. One recent survey of cat genes suggests that the felines might have actually domesticated us, and not the other way around. According to scientists, the earlier ancestors of domestic cats spread from southwest Asia into Europe sometime around 4400 B.C. Cats started hanging around farming communities in the Fertile Crescent about 8,000 years ago, where they formed a mutually beneficial relationship with humans.
Surprisingly, the same study reveals that wild and domestic cats showed almost no major differences in their genetics, with one of the traits telling them apart being their tabby coat markings. It is speculated that the marking began appearing in domesticated cats in the Middle Ages, and the gene for this type of coat goes back to the Ottoman Empire. It was only in the 18th century that the tabby coat markings became widespread to be fully associated with domestic cats. However, creating new cat breeds came even later—in the 19th century.
“I think that there was no need to subject cats to such a selection process since it was not necessary to change them,” Eva-Maria Geigl, an evolutionary geneticist, told National Geographic a few years ago. “They were perfect as they were.” Recently, a Facebook page called OMG Meow shared a comprehensive list of the most popular cat breeds that every respectable cat lover should know. Scroll down below to see all 50 of them and vote for the ones you like the most!