Science Says: DNA shows early spread of cats in human world

(AP) — Long before cats became the darlings of Facebook and Twitter, they spread through the ancient human world.

Now a DNA study has reached back thousands of years to track that conquest. It found evidence of two major dispersals from the Middle East. Researchers say genetic signatures the cats took on those journeys are still seen in most modern-day breeds.

They studied DNA from cat samples as old as 9,000 years from Europe, Africa and Asia, including some Egyptian cat mummies. They also sampled some modern feral cats from Bulgaria and east Africa.

The results show how genetic lineages moved around when cats were transported by people.

The study is in Monday's journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.