The Old World wildcat ranges from Scotland to China and down into Africa, but a new DNA study indicates that just one of its lineages, that of the Near Eastern wildcat, gave rise to today's domestic companions.
Domestic cats are still similar enough to their wild ancestor to belong to its species, Felis silvestris, explains Carlos Driscoll of the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Md. He and his colleagues analyzed DNA from 979 cats, ranging from pampered darlings to wildlings caught in Kazakhstan. Their study resolves the wildcat family tree into five lineages. One group combines the Near East wild relatives and domestic cats worldwide, Driscoll and his colleagues