animals, science

Cats: Genetically Robust, Geographically Interesting, Occasionally Mislabeled

mosaic.jpgThe Post is running an article in the A section about divining the origins of the domestic cat.

They come from the Fertile Crescent, their domestication coincides with the rise of agriculture, and they can be divided into four geo-genetic groups: Europe, Mediterranean, East Africa, Asia. (Why not West Africa? How did they get specific on that, especially in comparison to Asia?) The Persian is apparently not Persian; the Japanese bobtail probably isn’t Japanese. Also, cat breeds aren’t so terribly inbred as certain dog breeds.

In India last January, I saw plenty of dogs, but no cats (or none that I recall). Some rats, which makes me wonder what happened to the cat rung in the animal hierarchy. In China, a few cats, mostly pets. Here in San Francisco, I rarely see cats on the street, though the SPCA is overflowing with them.

I don’t come from cat people, but my girlfriend is one, so I live with a cat (pictured here). My girlfriend’s expert guess is that Mosaic is some blend of calico and tortoiseshell. Which seems reasonable enough. We got her at the SPCA, origins unknown.