The original cats in ancient China and East Asia were not housecats (felis catus) as we know them but the leopard (prionailurus bengalensis), from a genus Felis diverged from 3 to 1 million years ago. Leopard cats were replaced by housecats when the latter came over the Silk Road 2,000 years ago. Leopard cats can be socialized and sometimes still live as semi-wild members of rural households, which is likely the kind of arrangement they always had with humans.

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