the cat belongs to the family of Felidae, carnivorous animals which, although of different morphology according to the species, keep between them a strong resemblance in the shape of the body. Their most distant ancestors appeared in the Paleogene (about 65 million years ago), at which time all carnivores developed; they were small animals, but their morphology made them formidable predators.
The first Felis appeared, after innumerable and slow evolutions, to the Pleistocene (about 600 000 years ago); it was around this time that they differed from the Panthera or Leo, which includes the lion, the tiger, the leopard and the jaguar, and Acinonyx, of which the cheetah is a part. From this period, they spread over the entire surface of the globe (except Australia, where they were introduced by settlers) and found everywhere a suitable habitat and diet.
Wild nature and need of freedom
On the old continent, the ancestors closest to the cat were Felis silvestris (Common wild cat), Felis silvestris libyca (African wild cat) and Felis margarita (Cat of sands). It is impossible to establish precisely when the cat, or at least one of these cats, was domesticated. He certainly entered the man’s house quite late, given his wild nature and his need for freedom and, indeed, he never appears in prehistoric paintings.
In contrast, the cat has embodied divinities in many historical civilizations, while others associate it with the concept of fertility and fertility, or make it the symbol, positive or negative, of sensuality. This is the reason why, apart from its elegance and beauty, its silhouette has been, more than any other, transcribed on amulets and jewels.