The earliest evidence of taming of the African wildcat was in Cyprus dating back to 7500 BC. Prior to that it is assumed that African wildcats sought out early human settlements that attracted rats and mice and thus began a relationship that was mutually beneficial. Some even suggest that it was the cat that domesticated us, not the other way around. The more well known Egyptian relationship with cats dates back to 2000 BC.
It was the domesticated African cat that made its way with traders to Europe and was present in Greece from 1200 BC. Cats arrived in England with the Romans and have thrived alongside mans increasing agriculture with the resultant abundance of rodents.
In Tasmania, white settlers brought cats, rats, mice and rabbits with them, along with dogs and other animals. It made sense to white settlers to set domesticated cats free when agriculture resulted in a plague of rats, mice and rabbits that the native fauna couldn’t manage.
At the same time, 3500 thylacines were killed through human hunting between 1830 and the 1920’s thus eradicating the largest native carnivore whose number was estimated to be 5000 at the time of white settlement.
The history of domestic dogs in Tasmania is both interesting and informative. Feral dogs’ impact on farm animals in early settlement was significant but the public health fight against hydatid disease in the 1960’s changed our relationship with dogs, and while many were culled, it was ultimately our interest in their health and our children’s health that resulted in an almost absent feral dog population in Tasmania.
We are interested in a future where cats are cared for again. Where their health and wellbeing are improved because we care and we do something about it. Our Eco Cats initiative is about healthy pets and healthy communities. Desexing and parasite treating and bringing stray cats in from the cold. Toxoplasmosis and Roundworms are just two of the diseases we share with all mammals and we can catch from kittens among other things. Keeping them healthy and reducing the number of stray and abandoned kittens keeps them and us healthier.