Study Reveals How Cats Spread Globally

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. vermin / ˈvɜr mɪn / (n) – small animals that can carry diseases and damage crops

    The farmers decided to use chemicals to keep vermin from eating their crops.

  2. instrumental / ˌɪn strəˈmɛn tl / (adj) – being able to help something happen

    The migrants were instrumental in the spread of rabbits in Australia.

  3. coat / koʊt / (n) – an animal’s hair, fur, or wool

    My cat has a black and white coat.

  4. open (one’s) doors / ˈoʊ pən dɔrz / (idiom) – to allow someone or something into a place

    The animal shelter opened its doors to stray cats and dogs.

  5. feral / ˈfɪər əl, ˈfɛr- / (adj) – becoming wild after escaping captivity

    The police warned the tourists to be careful of feral dogs in the area.


Read the text below.

DNA analysis has revealed how wildcats became the cats that people now keep as pets.

Researchers found that cat domestication happened in Western Asia and Egypt. Farmers tamed wildcats to protect their produce from vermin. They also took the tamed cats with them wherever they migrated.

Egypt, being a trade hub, was instrumental in the spread of cats in Europe during the Roman era. Merchants took cats aboard trading ships or in travels by land. The cats’ function as pest-killers remained, but they had more interaction with humans.

Studies on the bones and mummies of ancient cats showed that most of them had a striped coat. This is consistent with the depiction of cats in ancient Egyptian illustrations. However, gene mutation caused the changes in their fur. After some time, they became more popular for their beauty than for their function.

Since their domestication, cats have been a companion to humans around the world. According to a report, the United States is the country with the most number of pet cats. In addition, 34% of American cat owners have opened their doors to stray and feral cats by adopting them as pets.

The United States is followed by China and Russia at second place and third place, respectively. Meanwhile, sixth-placer Italy is known for having many shelters that care for stray and feral cats. Moreover, Italy has a group of women called “Le Gattares” who take care of cats without owners across various cities.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• What are the benefits of taking care of cats?
• Describe a good pet owner.

Discussion B

• Would you consider joining an animal welfare group like “Le Gattares”? Why or why not?
• Agree or disagree: People should adopt pets from shelters instead of buying from pet shops. Explain your answer.