“Cat remains are very rare,” said Eva-Maria Geigl, a paleontologist from the Jacques Monod Institute, one of the study’s authors. Ancient humans did not raise cats for meat, so their bones were not as common as pig bones or chicken bones.
Geigl and her colleagues have been trying to persuade museums and collectors to take samples from the remains of cats found in archaeological excavations. Finally, the team also collected bones, teeth and even fur from 352 cats, including Egyptian cat mummies on display inside the British Museum.
However, not anything left contains DNA. The Middle East is an extreme hot environment. In ancient Egyptian tombs, where the mummies of kings and cats were contained, wet water and air also destroyed DNA.