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U=(N/T)M*G: RA

That picture, the one of the cat lounging on a desk, set as the featured picture? That’s the God!Cat Ra, who shares my home. And I say shares because it’s common knowledge that no one really owns a cat, unlike dogs. Although I don’t think I really own the God!Dog Anubis, who also shares my home.

But this furry paperweight inspired me to figure out why humans originally came to associate, and worship, and then keep cats.

Now back when we migrated from place to place with wooden spears and baskets looking for food along migration paths, dogs were our best companions. Easy and malleable for domestication, they are treasured allies in a great many ways in both security and the hunt. Humans have walked far with dogs in the 30,000 years we have been together.

Cats, however, have only been domesticated for about 12,000 years. While great at sneaking and catching the small pests, such as mice and lizards, cats can be standoff-ish and volatile on their good days and they absolutely don’t need humans for food. Based on my 33 years as a cat-servant, I’m pretty sure what few adaptions cats have made for domestication is just to enhance their manipulation capabilities, because house cats are virtually indistinguishable from their wild cousins.

From those ideas, it dawned on me how complicated any domestication can be. Why change dogs so much to suit our lives, but cats so little? Some scientists think cats sorta domesticated themselves. Why didn’t dogs do the same?

I also wonder, on some world in the vast Universe, how and why another intelligent lifeform domesticated an animal species. Was it for protection? Or possibly for the hunt? At what point in their evolution did they start keeping pets, just to have them?

What could domestication tell us about alien cultures?

Or do aliens believe they are servants of Gods disguised as cats, like humans once believed?

-T.A. Creech

Science in the pursuit of Fiction


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