According to a new scientific study, Vikings played a major role in the popularity of cats. The great migration must have happened at one point because, as in the case of dogs, and even humans, the felines must have originated from a single place in the world and then spread around the planet by hitching rides with the people that provided food and shelter for them.
Now, thanks to the first extensive study on the genetic markers of cats around the world, scientists managed to recreate the journey of the felines partially.
Researchers believe that the complicated relationship between cats and humans started roughly 12,000 years ago when farmers invited the wild feline in their homes, hoping that they will help them get rid of the rodents that were eating all of their harvests.
After the first cat was greeting into a warm and welcoming farm, a couple of specimens ended up in Egypt where the people started treating them like royalty. Cats were objects of worship in Ancient Egyptian times, only pharaohs and the sleek felines having the honor of being mummified after passing away.
Moreover, it was forbidden to harm a cat in those times, so people respected the animals more than they did any other animal. And they weren’t the only ones to include them in their mythology.
Freya, the Norse love goddess always traveled in a carriage pulled by two supernatural cats. And Loki even disguised Midgard, the Serpent who is destined to kill Thor and bring Ragnarok, into Utgard, his giant feline companion.
The Vikings also used to bring cats with them during their exploration missions. The felines were brought on board their ships to look after the grains, feeding on the rodents that inevitable found passage and his in the food containers.
“For the first time that in prehistoric times cats from the Near East and, in classical times, from Egypt, accompanied people on their journeys, thereby conquering the Ancient World”
The study analyzed the DNA of more than 200 cat remains, looking for the Egyptian gene that can only be transmitted on the mother’s side of the family. They discovered that cats bearing this particular marker reached as far as northern Germany, where Vikings are known to have settled.
Because the Norse warriors traveled a lot in their search for new territories, the popularity of cats increased exponentially, the felines managing to reach lands where no cat has ever set paw before.
Image source: Flickr