Are Cats Domesticated Or Just Tamed?

As a self-proclaimed cat enthusiast, I often find myself pondering the age-old question: are cats domesticated or just tamed? At first glance, it may seem like a simple answer. After all, our furry feline friends have been living alongside humans for thousands of years and have become an integral part of many households worldwide. However, upon closer inspection, things get a bit more complex.

On one hand, cats are experts at adapting to an indoor lifestyle and rarely show any interest in returning to their wild roots. They seem content spending their days lounging on windowsills and snuggling up with their human companions. But on the other hand, they still maintain many of their wild instincts that keep them self-sufficient and independent.

So what’s the verdict? Are cats truly domesticated or just simply tamed? In this article, we’ll delve into both sides of the debate and explore what makes our feline friends so unique. We’ll examine the traits that set them apart from both wild and domestic animals alike while taking a deep dive into their fascinating history as our loyal companions.

By the end of this post, you’ll have a newfound appreciation for these enigmatic creatures and a better understanding of whether they’re truly domesticated or not. So sit back, relax, and let’s explore the world of cats together.

The History of Cats and Humans

The relationship between cats and humans is a tale as old as time, dating back to the Near East about 10,000 years ago. Cats were initially attracted to human settlements because of the abundance of rodents, which they hunted for food. Over time, humans began to appreciate the benefits of having cats around and started keeping them as pets.

Ancient Egypt is where cats were first elevated to deity status and became objects of worship. In fact, killing a cat in ancient Egypt was considered a heinous crime punishable by death. Their special powers were believed to have helped protect the pharaohs and their kingdom. Similarly, ancient Rome also valued the contributions of cats in controlling rodent populations in public buildings such as libraries and temples.

Despite their revered status, cats were not fully domesticated until much later. While some experts argue that cats are not truly domesticated due to their independence and retention of wild instincts, others believe that cats have indeed undergone a process of domestication. Domestication refers to animals being selectively bred over generations to develop traits that make them more suitable for human companionship. Although selective breeding has been done for certain physical traits in cats, they have not been subjected to the same level of selective breeding as dogs.

However, domestic cats have developed behaviors that make them more sociable and less aggressive than their wild counterparts, making them better suited for living with humans. Today, cats are beloved pets worldwide, with their unique personalities and behaviors continuing to captivate and delight their human companions.

Cats Retain Wild Instincts and Behaviors

Cats are fascinating creatures that have been living with humans for thousands of years, yet they still retain many of their wild instincts and behaviors. As an expert in this field, I have researched and discovered some fascinating facts about how cats continue to exhibit their natural instincts despite being domesticated.

One of the most remarkable wild instincts that cats still possess is their hunting instinct. It’s deeply ingrained in their genetic makeup and makes them want to chase and catch prey, even if they no longer need to hunt for food. This instinct can lead to problematic behavior, such as attacking small animals or knocking over objects in the house. Therefore, it’s essential to provide your cat with plenty of toys to play with, so they can satisfy their hunting instincts without causing harm.

Moreover, cats are naturally territorial animals and highly protective of their territory. They mark their territory by scratching, rubbing against objects, and sometimes even urinating in specific areas. This territorial behavior can often lead to conflict between cats in multi-cat households. To keep them happy, it’s important to provide each cat with plenty of space and resources.

Another fascinating behavior that cats retain from their wild ancestors is their instinct to hide when they feel threatened or scared. They tend to seek out small, enclosed spaces like boxes or under furniture. Providing your cat with plenty of hiding places in your home helps them feel safe and secure.

Furthermore, cats are incredibly curious creatures that love to explore their environment. They enjoy climbing high places to observe everything around them; this behavior is also a survival instinct in the wild. Therefore, providing your cat with tall structures such as cat trees or shelves can help satisfy this instinct.

Breeding and Selection by Humans

The process of domesticating cats began thousands of years ago when humans started keeping them as pets to control pesky rodents. As we selectively bred cats for specific traits such as docility, tameness, and physical appearance, we significantly contributed to the evolution of domesticated cats.

Thanks to selective breeding, we have created a myriad of cat breeds, each with its unique characteristics and personality traits. From the vocal and clever Siamese to the regal and fluffy Persian, our furry friends now come in an array of shapes, sizes, and temperaments.

However, not all cats have been selectively bred for domestication. Feral or stray cats are considered semi-domesticated and have remained relatively untouched by human interference. These cats may still exhibit wild behavior even when living in a human environment.

But what exactly is selective breeding? Simply put, it’s the process of choosing animals with desirable traits and breeding them together to produce offspring with those same traits. Over time, this can lead to significant changes in a species, as we’ve seen with domesticated cats.

While selective breeding has allowed us to create a diverse range of adorable and affectionate companions, it’s important to remember that it can also have negative consequences. Breeding for certain physical traits can lead to health problems or even deformities in certain breeds.

To ensure responsible breeding practices, it’s crucial to prioritize the health and well-being of our feline friends above all else. This involves conducting thorough research on potential breeds, seeking out reputable breeders who prioritize animal welfare over profit margins, and avoiding supporting unethical practices such as inbreeding or extreme physical alterations.

Different Relationship with Humans than Dogs or Other Pets

While dogs are pack animals and have been selectively bred for thousands of years to work with humans, cats are solitary hunters and have not been bred for docility or tameness.

Despite their independent nature, cats have adapted to living with humans over time and formed a bond with their human companions. They have learned to tolerate and even enjoy human company, but they have not become fully domesticated like dogs. Unlike dogs, cats do not rely on humans for their survival, which means that they can maintain their independence.

One fascinating aspect of cats is their ability to exhibit domesticated traits without being fully domesticated. For example, cats have learned to use litter boxes, seek out human affection, and even purr and knead as a sign of love. These behaviors show that cats have a unique relationship with humans that is based on mutual benefits and affection.

One significant difference between cats and dogs is their independence. Cats require less attention and training than dogs, making them an appealing choice for people who want a pet but do not have the time or energy for extensive training. This independence also means that cats can be left alone for longer periods without feeling anxious or stressed.

Is It Possible for Cats to Be Fully Domesticated?

Cats are known for their independent nature and mysterious behavior, making them intriguing creatures to study. One of the most debated topics surrounding cats is whether they can be fully domesticated like dogs. Domestication refers to the process of breeding and selecting animals for specific traits that make them more suitable for living with humans, such as loyalty and obedience. While cats have been living with humans for thousands of years, they have not undergone the same level of selective breeding as dogs. This has led some to argue that cats are not truly domesticated but rather just tamed.

Here are some key points to consider in this ongoing debate:

Selective Breeding

Dogs have been bred for thousands of years, developing traits that make them better companions to humans. Cats have not undergone the same level of selective breeding, resulting in their independent nature and less willingness to follow human commands like dogs. This is a key factor in the argument against full domestication of cats.

Natural Instincts

Cats still retain many of their natural instincts and behaviors despite living with humans for thousands of years. Cats are skilled hunters and even indoor cats will often chase after insects or toys. Outdoor cats may bring home birds or mice as gifts for their owners, demonstrating their strong hunting instincts.

Adaptation to Living With Humans

However, many cats display affectionate behavior towards their human companions, seeking attention and enjoying being petted and cuddled. They have certainly adapted to living in close proximity to humans and formed unique bonds with them based on mutual benefits and affection.

Personal Opinion

Whether you believe cats can be fully domesticated or not is ultimately a matter of personal opinion. In my view, cats occupy a unique position in the animal kingdom when it comes to domestication. They have not undergone the same level of selective breeding as dogs but have certainly adapted to living with humans in their own way.

How Do We Determine If a Cat is Domesticated or Not?

The truth is, this is a complex question that requires analyzing multiple factors. Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways we can determine if a cat is domesticated.

Firstly, observing a cat’s behavior is crucial. Domesticated cats tend to be more social and affectionate towards humans. They enjoy petting, cuddling, and handling. They are less likely to show aggressive behavior towards people and are more adaptable to changes in their environment. If your furry companion loves curling up on your lap or follows you around the house, it’s a good indicator that they are domesticated.

Additionally, a cat’s breeding history can also play a significant role in determining their domestication level. Cats that have been selectively bred over generations for traits such as docility or sociability are more likely to be domesticated than those bred for other purposes such as hunting. However, even cats that have not been selectively bred can still exhibit domesticated behaviors if they have been raised in a human environment from an early age.

Genetics also influence whether a cat is domesticated or not. Researchers have identified several genes associated with domestication in animals, including cats. These genes affect various traits such as behavior, cognition, and physical characteristics.

It’s essential to keep in mind that determining whether a cat is genuinely domesticated takes time and observation. Some cats may be less social than others, but it does not necessarily mean they are not domesticated. Regardless of how “domesticated” your cat may be, providing them with proper care, attention, and enrichment is fundamental to ensure their well-being.

The Benefits of Having a Pet Cat

If you’re looking for a loyal and loving companion, a pet cat may be just what you need. Not only are they adorable and entertaining, but owning a cat can also bring about numerous physical and emotional benefits.

One of the most significant benefits of owning a cat is the improvement in physical health. Studies have shown that petting a cat can release endorphins, which are the feel-good hormones in our brains. Plus, having a pet cat can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and even decrease stress levels.

But the benefits of owning a cat don’t stop there. Cats can also boost our mental health, providing comfort and companionship, especially for those who live alone or suffer from anxiety or depression. The sound of a purring cat is like music to the ears and can be incredibly soothing after a long day.

Cats are also relatively low-maintenance pets compared to other animals. They don’t require daily walks or extensive training, making them ideal for busy lifestyles. They’re independent creatures that can entertain themselves for hours with toys or by exploring their surroundings. However, they still enjoy affection and attention from their owners, making them the perfect balance of independence and companionship.

If you have children in your household, owning a cat can teach them valuable lessons about responsibility and empathy towards other living beings. It can also provide opportunities for socialization as cat owners often bond over their love for feline companions.


In conclusion, the debate surrounding whether cats are domesticated or simply tamed is a multifaceted one. Despite thousands of years of cohabitation with humans, felines still possess many of their primal instincts and behaviors. They are natural-born hunters, territorial creatures, and endlessly curious beings that love to explore their surroundings. Nevertheless, they have also adapted to living alongside humans and forged unique bonds based on mutual benefits and affection.

While dogs have been selectively bred for centuries to develop traits that make them ideal companions for humans, cats have not undergone the same level of breeding. This has resulted in their independent nature and reluctance to follow human commands like dogs. However, cats have undoubtedly adjusted to living in close proximity to humans and formed distinctive relationships with them.

Regardless of your stance on whether cats can be fully domesticated or not, owning a pet cat can bring about a plethora of physical and emotional advantages. They can improve physical health by releasing endorphins through petting and reduce stress levels. Furthermore, they provide comfort and companionship, particularly for those who live alone or suffer from anxiety or depression.

To summarize, cats occupy an unparalleled position in the animal kingdom when it comes to domestication. They may not be entirely domesticated like dogs but have certainly learned how to live with humans in their own way.