The world's most popular pet, the cat (unless your a dog person and then it is the other way round), has a largely unknown origin. Genetic studies on cats have been slow to attract research funding and our knowledge of where and when they originated and dispersed is patchy, when compared to dogs.

However, new research on the genetics of 209 archaeological cat remains has revealed at least two waves of cat population expansion. An initial expansion with early farmers occurred around 12,000 years ago. This was followed by an expansion of cats with distinctively Egyptian DNA into Turkey, Bulgaria and sub-Saharan Africa from the 4th century BC to the 4th century AD. This DNA lineage was then found again at archaeological sites associated with Vikings in the 8th to 11th centuries of Germany. So how did cats of Egyptian DNA heritage end up with Vikings? This study should open the way for more cat genetic studies. As the results here are tantalizing and imply there are some fascinating population studies to be done on our beloved moggies.