Human care for cats can be traced back more than 1,000 years, thanks to the recent discovery of an ancient cat skeleton, according to a new study,media reported. The skeleton reveals that humans traveling along the Silk Road trade route are likely to take care of cats along the way, treating them as pets, similar to the way humans treat them today.
A team of researchers studied the skeleton of a kitten to understand how it lived more than 1,000 years ago. According to reports, the skeleton was almost complete; it was discovered during an excavation in Kazakhstan, especially in an abandoned city called Jankent/Dzhankent.
The area was once home to a herdsman’s Turkic tribe called Oghuz in the early Middle Ages. The discovery of an almost complete cat skeleton – especially one so well preserved – has been described as surprising and rare, giving researchers a unique opportunity to learn about the role of these cats in medieval life.
The skeleton reveals the difficult life of a cat, a life marked by multiple fractures, which has since healed. However, the cat lived to an advanced age, indicating that it had received more care from the humans who were living in the area at the time. The researchers believe that this care is not limited to the cat, but extends to other cats.
Although the cat’s teeth were almost wiped out when it died, its diet contained very high levels of protein, suggesting that humans prepared food for it. Dna from the bones also showed that the particular animal was a domestic cat, not a wild prairie cat. The cat’s care is a cultural change for the tribe in the area, suggesting that they take care of cats as pets, not just as a utility.
Team leader Dr Ashleigh Haruda explained: “The Ugus people only raise animals when they are vital to their lives. For example, a dog can look after herds. They had no obvious use for cats at the time. “