All the cats in this genus share a common ancestor that is believed to have lived around 6–7 million years ago in the Near East (the Middle East).

The exact relationships within the Felidae are close but still uncertain, e.g. the Chinese mountain cat is sometimes classified (under the name Felis silvestris bieti) as a subspecies of the wildcat, like the North African variety F. s. lybica.

Ancient Egyptian sculpture of the cat goddess Bastet. The earliest evidence of felines as Egyptian deities comes from a c. 3100 BC.

In comparison to dogs, cats have not undergone major changes during the domestication process, as the form and behavior of the domestic cat is not radically different from those of wildcats and domestic cats are perfectly capable of surviving in the wild.

Fully domesticated house cats often interbreed with feral F. catus populations, producing hybrids such as the Kellas cat. This limited evolution during domestication means that hybridisation can occur with many other felids, notably the Asian leopard cat.

Several natural behaviors and characteristics of wildcats may have predisposed them for domestication as pets. These traits include their small size, social nature, obvious body language, love of play and relatively high intelligence.:12–17 Several small felid species may have an inborn tendency towards tameness

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