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The study suggests the progenitors of today's cats split from their wild counterparts more than 100,000 years ago - much earlier than once thought.
One of the clades included domestic cats and some wildcats from the Middle East, suggesting that today's moggy stems from the wild felines of this region.
Experts believe cats originally sought out human company, attracted by rodents infesting the first agricultural settlements.
The early farmers of the fertile crescent - present-day Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Israel - would have found the animals extremely useful for protecting their grain stores - an association that continues to this day.