Feline Brains Have Shrunk Significantly Since Humans First Domesticated Cats, Study Finds

·3 min read
cat, kitten
cat, kitten

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Since humans began nurturing cats as pets, the brains of felines have gotten significantly smaller, a new study has found.

Research published in the Royal Society Open Science Journal on Wednesday notes that the skull sizes of domestic cats were much smaller than those of European wildcats and African wildcats. The study of brain sizes of domestic cats compared to their wild counterparts goes back several decades. However, to determine if the pattern still holds true, researchers replicated the studies from 1969 and 1972.

"We found that domestic cats experience a reduction in brain size compared to their ancestor species, the North African wildcat. Hybrids of domestic cats and European wildcats have brain volumes that cluster between those of their parent species," the researchers shared in the journal.

The team added, "Overall, our results concerning brain size in cats confirm the findings of the previous studies."

The scientists will keep reproducing the former studies for cats and other domestic animals moving forward.

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"Much of the literature that compares wild and domestic animals is difficult to access, or may have methodological issues," said Dr. Raffaela Lesch from the University of Vienna, per The Independent. "We have to put effort into replicating old findings to further the field of domestication research and to see whether hypotheses, like the neural crest/domestication syndrome hypothesis of Wilkins and colleagues, are built on a solid foundation."

While new research found that cats' brains have shrunk since humans have taken them in as pets, three felines went viral earlier this month for their smarts.

Jessica and Nikii Gerson-Neeves waited weeks to open the brand new Vitamix blender they bought in December because their cats were constantly occupying the top of the blender's box.

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Their three cats took turns sitting on the blender box, making it impossible for Jessica, 40, and Nikii, 38, to open the Vitamix, they told The Washington Post.

It all began when Jessica placed the blender on the floor for a moment after the package arrived. Max, the couple's four-year-old cat, hopped on top of the box. Soon, the other two cats — George: Destroyer of Worlds and Lando Calrissian — were inspired to do the same, she told the Post.

For days, one of the three pets at on the box at all times, with the others often staying close to guard the package.

RELATED VIDEO: Cats Interrupt Woman's Bedtime

In a Jan. 2 Facebook post, Jessica explained why she and Nikii hadn't simply removed the cats from the box themselves.

"With three cats and only two humans in the household, the humans are outnumbered and (being giant suckers), both frightened of and unwilling to forcibly relocate the offending cats," she wrote. "Yes, we realize we're absolute madwomen, and yes, we are both ashamed and sorry."

To help solve their predicament, Jessica requested three empty boxes from Vitamix in her Facebook post, which was an open letter addressed to the blender company.

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