The Story Of Wild Animals:
Story Of The Raccoon
Story Of The Cobego
Story Of The Gazelle
Story Of The Chameleon
Story Of The Fossa
Story Of The Walrus
Story Of The Mole
Story Of The Pangolin
Story Of The Opossum
Story Of The Caffre Cat
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Story Of The Caffre Cat
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
With the caffre, or, as it is frequently termed, the Egyptian cat, we have a species which is regarded as the parent stock from which the domestic cat has sprung.
The caffre cat is about the size of a large domestic cat, and is generally of a yellowish color, darker on the back, and paler on the under-parts. The body is marked with faint pale stripes, which assume, however, on the limbs the form of distinct dark horizontal bands; and the tail, which is relatively long, is also, more or less distinctly ringed towards its tip, where it is completely black. The sides of the face are marked by two horizontal streaks.
The caffre cat is found throughout Africa, from the Cape of Algiers and Egypt, and also. extending into Southwestern Asia in Syria and Arabia. In past times it also, ranged into Southeastern Europe. At the period when the caffre cat lived in Gibraltar, Spain was doubtless connected by land with Africa. These cats were held sacred by the ancient Egyptians, and enormous numbers of their bodies were embalmed and preserved in tombs and pits.
Darwin considered that the origin of the domestic cat could not be deter-mined with certainty ; and concluded by remarking that whether domestic cats have descended from several distinct species, or have only been modified by occasional crosses, their fertility, so far as is known, is unimpaired.
That the ancient Egyptians had succeeded in taming thoroughly the cats of which the mummified bodies are found in large numbers is perfectly well ascertained. This is indeed demonstrated by a painting in the British Museum, representing a fowling scene. It appears to have been the custom for the fowler to enter upon such expeditions accompanied by some of the female members of his family. Embarking on board a boat, with a few decoy-birds and a trained cat, they proceeded to such parts of the river as were fringed with dense masses of the tall papyrus-reed. Waterfowl of various species swarmed in these rushy covers ; and, by the number of nests with eggs and young usually represented, we are doubtless to infer that the possession of this sort of stock was no less desired than that of the birds themselves. The cat, strange as it appears, was certainly taught to seize upon the birds. It is probable also that the repugnance of this animal to wet her feet having been overcome by training, she was accustomed to fetch such birds as fell into the water. It is interesting to find the cat domesticated at so early a period.