Feline skeleton shows proof of medical—and loving—care
Are you a cat person? Do you tussle with calico Charlie and his catnip toys, hustle home to hear Luna’s happy purr, or comfort shy Shadow on a dark and stormy night? Well, you’re not alone: According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, a quarter of U.S. households—nearly 32 million—are home to at least one cat.
And now there’s proof of at least one millennium-old household that shared your cat fandom. According to research out of Germany’s Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, a nearly complete cat skeleton found at the site of a pastoral community along the former Silk Road in southern Kazakhstan reflects the loving care its owners provided more than 1,000 years ago.
The researchers found:
- The animal was a domestic type of cat, not a wild local species.
- The cat’s skeleton exhibited healed fractures, pointing to medical assistance received from human friends.
- Bone analysis noted the cat had been fed a very high-protein diet, showing it had been fed by humans, even when it lost almost all of its teeth later in life.
- The cat was carefully buried and not abandoned, allowing for the unique archaeological find.
“The Oghuz were people who only kept animals when they were essential to their lives—dogs, for example, can watch over the herd,” said Dr. Ashley Haruda. “They had no obvious use for cats back then.”
There is no obvious use for cats today, either, but cat people across the centuries know of their many benefits. For 21st century health and wellness care for your feline family members, turn to Department of Consumer Affairs’ Veterinary Medical Board licensees. Find out more about their education, licensure, and services at www.vmb.ca.gov, and check vets’ licenses at search.dca.ca.gov.