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While it’s no secret some people love cats (see: the Internet), felines themselves are complicated and confusing creatures. One day, they’re rubbing up against you, demanding attention, and the next, they deny you the simplest, friendly purr!

人类爱猫,这不是秘密,但是猫咪本身是复杂难解的生物。今天它们抱你大腿求关注,明天就给你甩脸子!

On those days, we question if cats are living with us by choice or simply because we’re keeping them there. After all, they were once wild animals!

我们不仅要问,是猫咪选择和人类一起生活呢,还是人类把它们留在身边。毕竟,它们以前可是野生动物!



“Unlike barnyard animals and livestock, cats took into account that it was a good idea for them to get along with people,” says Stephen O’Brien, chief scientific officer for Genome Bioinformatics at St. Petersburg (Russia) State University’s Theodosius Dobzhansky Center, who has conducted multiple cat-evolution studies.

“与谷仓动物和家畜不同,猫觉得和人类共处是个好主意。”圣彼得堡大学的基因生物信息学首席科学官Stephen O’Brien说。他领导了多个猫进化的研究。

What most likely happened: just as humankind was establishing the first settlements roughly 10,000 years ago in a part of the Middle East known as the Fertile Crescent, wild cats fed on their trash and preyed upon mice that infested livestock feed. The cats that were genetically tamer most likely formed a bond with certain humans, which eventually led to cats living inside their homes.

最有可能的是:1万年前,当人类在中东新月地带建立最早的定居地时,野猫靠吃垃圾和捕捉家畜饲料里的老鼠为生。一些带有较为温顺的基因的猫很可能和一些人攀上了交情,最后这些人打开家门,让猫和他们一起生活。

2. "So, did cats essentially domesticate themselves by being nice?"

2.“所以,猫是通过"做个好猫"来驯化自己的罗?”

You could say that. “There was an advantage associated with being a nice guy if you were a cat,” O’Brien says. “By becoming friendly with humans, there was another source of nutrition, protection and companionship that couldn’t be [found in the wild].”

可以这么说。“如果你是一只猫,做个好猫会有好处。”O’Brien说。“对人亲切友好,就能得到食物、保护和陪伴。这是无法(在野外)获得的。”

3. "Can all cats take advantage of this personality trait?"

3.“所有的猫都能通过温顺的性格获得好处吗?”

Not exactly. This “friendly” personality trait begins in a cat’s genes.

并不。这种“友好的”个性特征起源于猫的基因。



“Cats are naturally crepuscular, which means they are most active at dusk and dawn,” McGowan says. “This stems from the fact that for their wild counterparts, these are the best times of the day to hunt.”

“猫是晨昏性动物,也就是说它们在黄昏和早晨最活跃。这来自于它们在野外的同类,黄昏和早晨是一天里最适合捕猎的时候。”

While wild cats take a series of short “cat naps” throughout the day to stay vigilant toward both predators and potential prey, house cats live in an environment where it’s safe to sleep for long stretches of time during the day -- which amounts to having extra energy to burn at night.

野猫一天里打一系列小的“猫盹”,来保持对猎食者和猎物的警觉。家猫生活在安全的环境里,白天睡大觉也没问题——结果就是晚上精神焕发。

5. "Why are all cats roughly the same size, unlike dogs?"

5.“为什么猫不像狗,个头都差不多大呢?”

While dogs, as a species, exhibit an extreme size divergence from a tiny Pekingese to a massive Great Dane, cats typically range from 8 to 12 pounds. Why is that, exactly? Well, nobody knows for sure.

狗的个体大小差异极大,小狗有京叭儿,大狗有大丹。猫一般就是8-12磅重。到底为什么?好吧,没人知道。

It could be because size distribution is more prent in the felidae family (all cats) than the felis species, which spans from jungle cats to domestic cats, O’Brien says. However, it could also be because dogs have been domesticated for much longer and bred more intensely than cats. Another factor, O’Brien points out, is that they have more diversity to begin with in terms of genes responsible for metric growth, which could account for the larger size variety.

比起猫这个品种,可能个头大小在整个猫科里面差异较大,丛林猫到家猫有一系列大小,O’Brien说。不过,也有可能是因为狗被驯养的时间更长,育种更多。O’Brien说到另一个因素,就是决定身体大小的基因,狗这方面的基因有更多变化。

6. "Why don’t cats roar like their larger ancestors?"

6.“为什么猫不像它们的大型祖先一样咆哮?”

The cat family has 37 species, 38 if you count the house cat. But the only cats that roar are the great cats like lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars and snow leopards, O’Brien explains. They’re able to do this because of their ossified hyoid bone, an adaptation specific to the panthera group, which allows them to roar.

猫科有37个属,算上家猫的话38个。但是只有像狮子、老虎、豹子、美洲虎、雪豹这样的大猫才会咆哮,O’Brien解释道。它们能够咆哮是因为它们有硬化的舌骨。

But cats don’t need to let out a sad “meow.” Pumas and cheetahs don’t roar, either (they scream and purr, respectively).

但是猫不需要这么悲伤的“喵”。美洲狮和猎豹也不会咆哮(它们一个尖叫,一个呼噜)。

7. "Why do cats only rub up on you seeking attention on their own terms, but ignore you otherwise?"

7.“为什么只有猫想要关注的时候,才会抱人类大腿,而人找猫玩会被猫无视?”

”Cats are descended from a solitary species, and have yet to evolve a need to socialize 24/7,” Bradshaw says. “Most of the time, most of them just want to be alone.”

“猫来自于一个独居的物种,还没有进化到一周7天一天24小时都有社交需要。”Bradshaw说。“多数时候,多数猫只是想一个猫静静。”

Don’t take it personally ... maybe your cat is just an introvert.

不要往心里去。。。也许你的猫只是性格内向。

8. "Are cats’ tails just for show, or do they actually serve a purpose?"

8.“猫的尾巴只是装饰吗,还是说有特别的功能?”

Monkeys may use their tails to hang from trees, but cats primarily use their tails for balance, O’Brien says. As cats run, their tails essentially serve as a rudder, giving them balance to keep on their intended path as they turn a corner. The best example would be a cheetah reaching 70 mph speeds.

猴子用尾巴挂在树上,但是猫主要用尾巴帮助平衡。O’Brien说,猫在奔跑的时候,尾巴就像舵,在猫转弯的时候让猫能保持平衡。最好的例子是猎豹达到时速70英里的情景。

There’s another, surprising purpose: They’re a part of the reproductive process! “When the female gets mounted, she has to agree to lift her tail,” O’Brien says.

尾巴还有一个令人吃惊的功用:繁殖过程中的一部分!“当母猫要被XX的时候,她必须抬起尾巴表示同意。”O’Brien说。

9. "Did cats ever travel in packs, like dogs?"

9.“猫能像狗一样群居吗?”

House cats, by default, are isolated individuals that do not organize in families; they defend their territory alone, as many other cat species do, O’Brien says. However, when there’s abundant prey and offspring, cats can adapt to a family or pride structure -- like lions that live in packs, or two house cats that get along because plenty of resources are being provided.

家猫本身是独居动物,它们独自守卫领地,像很多其它猫种一样。但是,有充足猎物和小猫的情况下,猫能够转换到像狮子一样,组成家庭或者母猫群的结构。两只家猫在资源充分的情况下也能相处良好。

10. "If cats are mostly relying on their human keepers for basic needs (like food and water), why do some occasionally bring home ‘prizes’ like dead mice or birds?"

10. “如果猫主要依赖人类来满足基本需求(比如食物和水),为什么有些猫会时不时给家里带‘猎物’,比如死老鼠或者小鸟? ”

Those “gifts” might not be for you, after all. (We’re sure you’re crushed.)

那些“礼物”不一定是给你的,说到底。(我们知道,听到这个答案你内心是崩溃的)

“The owner may think they are presents, but the most likely explanation is that the cat has brought its prey back to the house to consume it in a safe place -- and only then recalled that the cat food in its bowl is much tastier than mouse,” Bradshaw says.

“猫奴可能以为这是礼物,但是最靠谱的解释是,猫把猎物带回家,是为了在一个安全的地方吃掉——然后回家了才想起来,自己碗里的猫粮比老鼠好吃的多。”Bradshaw说。

11. Where does that myth about cats having nine lives come from?

11.猫有九命的说法是打哪里来的?

Cats' reputation as the ultimate survivors probably originates in their ability to land safely, even when falling from great heights.

猫的这个名声可能来自于它们即使从高处掉下来,也能安全落地的能力。

“[Cats] can do this because they can twist around in mid-air so as to land on all four feet at once, with their back arched so it can act as a shock-absorber,” Bradshaw explains. “If they manage to right themselves far enough above the ground, they can slow their fall by temporarily extending their legs sideways and using their bodies as a parachute -- rather like a less extreme version of a flying squirrel.”

“猫能这么做是因为它们能在半空中扭转身体,保证四脚落地,同时它们的背弓起,这样能够吸收冲击力。”Bradshaw解释道。“如果它们能够在离地面足够高的时候调整成正确的姿势,它们还能向两旁伸开腿,把身体变成一个降落伞,使下落的速度变慢——就像一只飞鼠,只是没有那么夸张。”

12. This has nothing to do cat evolution, but why the heck are cats so afraid of cucumbers in those YouTube videos?

12.这个问题和猫的进化无关,但是到底为什么在油管上,猫那么怕黄瓜?

If you’ve witnessed the viral gold that is cats being startled by cucumbers on YouTube, you’ve probably wondered what about this produce terrifies them. According to McGowan, cats aren’t actually spooked by cukes in particular. Instead, they’re simply frightened by the sudden appearance of an obxt behind them after being focused on something else (in most cases, food).

如果你看过油管上猫被黄瓜吓尿的视频,你可能想知道黄瓜为什么对猫来说这么可怕。McGowan说,其实猫不是怕黄瓜,实际上,它们是在专心于某件事情的时候(大多数时候,是吃),突然身后出现一个东西,这把它们吓了一跳。

“One might expect the same reaction no matter what type of obxt is placed behind the cat,” McGowan says. “While a handful of cats will react in this way, providing material for viral videos on YouTube, just as many cats will be unreactive in this situation.”

“不管那个东西是什么,猫都可能作出相同的反应。有些猫会吓的跳起来,给油管增加了热门视频,有很多猫则毫无反应。”

But let’s not all go test that theory; scaring your kitty can induce stress and discomfort. And their (nine?) lives are complicated enough.

但是,不要都去测试这个理论;吓唬你的猫咪可能导致精神压力和不适。而它们的(9个?)生活已经够复杂的了。