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What behavioral traits changed while the cat was evolving to a modern house cat?

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Wild cats are extremely shy towards people. The house cats have learned that living close to people can be of benefit, they find food easier and even get protection.

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Purring and meowing are both behaviours that are related to spending time with humans.

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@Rath: This question prompted me to do a search and came up with the link in my answer below. House cats and mountain lions share a physical trait that allows for purring but not for roaring. Large cats like lions and tigers can roar, but they can't purr. There were some other characteristics that I found interesting.
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bentheredunthat
Heard this too, that cats don't share talk with each other, but they do with people. My cat understands what I say, words & commands, far more than I understand his calls & cries for something. Shows you which one of us is smarter.
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This is so interesting. I knew that cats don't verbalized to each other, but do talk to people. Like you, I know what my cats says, but it's usually a complaint about the service. Roar or purr: I prefer the purr. It's a self sedative for them too.
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bentheredunthat
Laughing, service complaints... How true. I know a few of his cries, but many baffle me. I stand there, like an idiot, wringing my hands, asking him - what do YOU want?! His answer is often something that sounds awfully close to,
I don't knoooow.
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I've got a Maine coon kitten of over 20 pounds. He churtles instead of meowing. When he jumps onto my shoulders and bites the top of my head, it means he wants to play.
Maybe you cats wants you there in a ready state in case s/he thinks of some service you could perform.
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bentheredunthat
Maine Coons - oh, how beautiful. They are something to see. Lucky you - except when he's bigger. That could be a problem, lol. (Yeah, I complain about my "piece of work" constantly, but there isn't much I wouldn't do to keep him happy & comfortable. He gives it back so much more, you know? Or, at least makes me believe so. Hm...)
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A loyal, unquestioning, and obedient servant is a wonderful thing. Your cat is lucky.
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I found some interesting information about the differences amongst the various kinds of cats at http://www.faqkids.com/548-house-cats-roar-like-lions.html

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Great link. Thanks so much, Cal.
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Until that article I always thought the physical differences were due solely to breeding for domestication.
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bentheredunthat

It is thought that small wild cats came closer to humans as our populations grew & food scraps became plentiful. Cats are clever opportunists. And a little lazy. Easy meals & a warm fire are big behavioral drivers for them. Early people in return realized cats were good vermin hunters. Cats kept grain-eating rodents & birds out of their fields & food caches. This helped families survive so cats were encouraged to stay & quickly became pets. The modern cat/human relationship began & remains a symbiotic one, both benefitting from each other's behavior & habits. Humans groomed cats to work for us, & vice-versa. Now we do it more so for companionship & entertainment. Modern pet cats hunt more for fun vs. food because they've learned to trust us to care for them. They've also learned to come to us for affection & company. And not always driven by food. This is not normal behavior for wild animals but it somehow grew important in cat's lives. (Dogs too.)

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I hope lots of kids see the behavioral evolution here. Great post.
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bentheredunthat
Thanks. I'm just quoting years of bit & pieces I've heard thru nature shows. It's good stuff. Our family used to watch Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom every Sunday. My folks went out of their way to make sure us kids learned about wildlife. They enjoyed it to. Had we had it, Animal Planet would have been on 24/7. :)
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