Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis think they have found the genetic markers that may have helped ancestral wildcats shed much of their original behavior to become the domesticated housecat of today.
Researchers examined the genome map of a domestic Abyssinian housecat and compared it with the genomes of a couple of Near Eastern wildcats, which are Tabby's nearest cousins. Several genes, such as those governing control of fear responses and the ability to learn new behavior, were different in each brand of cat. The scientists noted that a decreased fear response and ability to learn would be important traits for cats that were adapting to live in a -- somewhat -- social relationship with human beings.
When presented with the results of the research, housecats were heard to respond, "Say 'domesticated' one more time, monkey-boy."