The first cats were brought to Ancient Urartu and Olivia by merchants and warriors in the 7th-6th centuries. BC, since these centers had extensive, connections with the Mediterranean. The Scythians also knew a domestic cat, but so far only one single skeleton has been found in the mounds. In the V-VIII centuries. cats appeared on the coast of the Baltic Sea, and in the X-XIII centuries. settled on the lands of ancient Russia, however, there were very few of them: in the Upper Volga region, only two out of two hundred kurgans of the 10th-11th centuries were found the remains of cats. It is interesting that in Russia the purely economic qualities of a cat were the first to be appreciated by the clergy and put these animals under the protection of church law.
How much did the cat cost? In “Metropolitan Justice”, a well-known judicial code of the 14th century, we read that a fine was set for a stolen animal: 9 kuna was paid for a pigeon, 30 kuna for a duck, a crane and a goose, 40 kuna for a cow, and 30 kuna for a swan. for an ox, a dog and a cat – 3 hryvnia each (a hryvnia is an ingot of silver weighing 250 grams, a kuna is the 50th part of a hryvnia). This means that the price of a cat was equal to an ox! Three hryvnia was a lot of money. Another article notes: “And whoever kills a dog or a cat is guilty of the hryvnia, and gives a dog instead of a cat, and a cat instead of a dog.” Earlier in the written sources the cat is not mentioned. Probably before the fourteenth century. cats in Russia were not common.
Animals have always helped man. It is well known that cows provide milk, sheep provide wool, horses transport goods, and cats have earned human appreciation for their ability to hunt rodents. At the end of the fifteenth century, the conquistador Diego de Almago paid 600 coins of eight ducats for the first domestic cat brought to South America specifically to catch mice. In the 18th century, the King of Prussia, Frederick the Great, ordered each city that conquered them to pay a tax on cats, which protected its military warehouses from rodents.
Several centuries later, these animals could once again help people. They were part of the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II. To feed the starving people, the Americans sent hundreds of thousands of tons of grain to Europe. Borrowing from the ancient Egyptians the time-tested rodent control technique, they sent 10,000 cats along with the grain to guard it from mice. The cats honorably fulfilled their duty, which allowed the Europeans to reinforce their strength and begin the long process of rebuilding the continent destroyed by war. In 1964, an epidemic of Bolivian fevers swept the village of San Joaquin, lost in the Andes. The disease was brought there by wild mice infected with the Machupo virus. Following a radio call for help, hundreds of cats were flown to the Andes by airplane, which eventually stopped the fever.
The anatomy, physiology and appearance of the cat have changed very little over time. A person created each breed of dog for a specific purpose, selecting producers for size, aggressiveness or ability to run fast. Most of the feline breeds arose by accident, as a result of genetic isolation in remote corners of the globe. In Europe before the Victorian times, when travelers began to import cats from exotic places, people did not attach importance to the concept of “breed” in relation to these animals, which differ in color, coat length and temperament. The shorthaired cat is the oldest European breed, descended from wild cats that appeared in Europe along with the Roman soldiers. Manks were first imported from Asia, Angora cats – from Turkey, Persian – from Asia Minor, Siamese – from the Far East, and the Abyssinian are from Ethiopia. As different breeds gained in popularity, owners of cats began to show them to each other as representatives of different breeds.
The first cat show took place in 1871 in London’s Crystal Palace. More than 100 different cat breeds are registered in modern Europe and North America. But, possessing undoubted differences, all kinds of breeds are still variations of one phenomenon – an amazingly beautiful, complex in character and adored by all domestic cats.
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