Anyone who has seen their cat stalk a bug or rodent thought something along the lines of "my fluffy little pal still has some serious killer instinct!"But how deep do those instincts go? How wild is my cat?A team of scientists led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO asked the same questions. What they discovered may surprise you.Recently, these scientists published research
in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition that analyzed data about the feline genome and helped shed some light on how domesticated cats are."Cats, unlike dogs, are really only semidomesticated," explained senior author Wes Warren, Ph.D., associate professor of genetics at The Genome Institute at Washington University?. "They only recently split off from wild cats, and some even still breed with their wild relatives. So we were surprised to find DNA evidence of their domestication." An African wild cat hunting in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
The scientists looked at data from the Cat Genome Sequencing Project, which started in 2007. While the data from the project may be used for disease research, the researchers from Washington University School of Medicine compared the information to wild cat DNA to determine what was different between the two.The biggest changes they observed were in the cats' memory, fear and reward-seeking areas. These changes likely have to do with interacting with humans and being fed.Cats and humans have only lived together for about 9,000 years, compared to 30,000 with dogs, but the changes in domestication may be similar between the two. The researchers hypothesized that cats were beneficial to humans because they kept away pests like rats and mice that would eat harvested foods and grain. As a reward, humans may have given these cats food to keep them around. In addition , humans would have favored more docile, obedient cats, so this trait would have become preferable.
What genetics says about your cat's diet
Aside from just looking at the traits that make your kitty different than a puma, the researchers also analyzed what the genes said about cats' abilities to hunt and eat meat. They found that a fat-metabolizing gene that changed, possibly to allow a "digestive advantage" for animals, like felines, who only consume animal protein.Help your furry feline get the food he needs by providing him with quality cat food like the Fancy Feast Savory Salmon Cat Food which are full of the meat and fats that help his digestive system operate well and coat look nice. Use your PetPlus
membership to save on quality cat foods like the meat-packed
Wellness Beef and Salmon Formula Canned Cat Food
or the specialty Royal Canin Veterinary Diets.