In his new book Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs, David Grimm spends four years studying the journey of pets from wild animals to family members. Here are a few things he learned along the way.
More homes have dogs and cats than have kids. Nearly 150 million cats and dogs live in the U.S., one for every two people. More than half of all homes contain either a dog or a cat — five times more than have birds, horses, and fish combined. Dog and cat ownership has quadrupled since the mid-1960s — double the growth rate of the human population.
Cats aren’t from Egypt. Historians long thought that cats became domesticated in Ancient Egypt around 4,000 years ago, based on the appearance of felines in the art of the time. But recent archaeological and genetic evidence suggest that cats arose instead in what is today Israel, Turkey, and Iraq, and that they first became domesticated nearly 10,000 years ago — 5,000 years before Egypt even existed.
Dogs can outsmart chimpanzees. Point at something, and a dog will look at what you’re pointing at. Though this may seem a simple skill, our closest relatives, chimpanzees, can’t do it. That means dogs (and it turns out, cats too) may possess a rudimentary “theory of mind” — an ability to intuit what others are thinking that is rare in the animal kingdom.
Kitty litter wasn’t invented until 1947. Cats and dogs didn’t begin becoming bona-fide members of the family until they started living in our homes. The advent of flea and tick shampoos began to bring dogs indoors in the late 1800s. But cats would have to wait until 1947 — the year kitty litter was invented.
Pets are now rescued in natural disasters. Nearly half of the people who didn’t evacuate during Hurricane Katrina stayed behind because of their pets — and many of them died. In the aftermath of the storm, Congress passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, which impels rescue agencies to save pets as well as people during natural disasters. To date, more than 30 states have passed their own versions of this act, which have been implemented in everything from tornadoes to wildfires.
Source Huffington Post