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The domestic cat is descended from wild cats that were tamed twice – in the Near East and then Egypt, according to the largest study of its kind.

Farmers in the Near East were probably the first people to successfully tame wild cats about 9,000 years ago. Then, a few thousand years later, cats spread out of ancient Egypt along maritime trade routes.

Today, cats live on all continents except Antarctica. Scientists think wildcats began hanging around farms to prey on mice attracted to grain stores, starting the long relationship between humans and felines.

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