In honor of National Cat Day, aka. the most glorious day of the year, I bring to you knowledge that you might have missed the first time around. Believe it or not, science has actually put an end to the question plaguing pet owners for thousands of years: Are cats for dogs better? The world is inexplicably divided into either cat or dog people (and people who like snakes, I guess, but we don't talk about them), and wishy-washy "neutral" opinions are simply not tolerated. I'm totally serious — if you want to sow discord at any social gathering, the quickest method is to loudly declare one species' supremacy over the other, then melt into the crowd and watch the world burn. I heartily recommend it.
Like all things, however, the debate had to come to an end at some point. After analyzing more than 2,000 fossils in a study published earlier this fall, researchers officially declared cats the victor over dogs — in terms of evolution, that is.
According to the study, cats are simply better hunters than dogs, which has led them to fare better in the game of survival. In fact, the study indicated that cats are such successful predators that they literally out-hunt dogs, causing more than 40 species of dog to go extinct since their arrival on the North American continent 20 million years ago. Dogs, on the other hand, apparently haven't caused a single cat species to go extinct. Go figure.
While dogs are estimated to have been domesticated more than 30,000 years ago, cats purred their ways into our hearts much more recently. Researchers put the domestication of cats — who domesticated themselves, in all honesty — anywhere between 7,000 and 12,000 years ago. It was a mutually beneficial relationship back then, when humans were first starting to give up the nomadic life in favor of agricultural communities. With crops, of course, come rodents, but that's where cats came in. They kept pests away from our food, and we provided proverbial milkshakes to bring all the rodents to the yard. Plus, cats are super flippin' cute when they're hunting, so it was a win for everyone. Egyptians and Romans, in particular, were nuts about cats.
Cats' reputations took a plummet, however, when they became associated with dark magic in the Middle Ages, and they've had to claw their way back into humanity's graces in the centuries since. Judging from their popularity online, though, I'd say they're doing just fine these days.
None of this exactly helps cats' reputation for being total jerks among the uninitiated, of course, but somehow I don't think our feline friends care about the haters. After all, we literally named a national holiday for them; I think we can tell we love them no matter how many dog species they wiped out. Just look at their widdle faces!!
Ahem. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to celebrate my favorite holiday by petting some kittens. Happy National Cat Day!
Images: Giphy (4)