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Qiṭṭa Arabic Cats

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Chapter Summary

The absence of common Semitic and common Indo-European words for 'cat' undoubtedly reflects the fact that the cat was domesticated much later than the dog, long after common Semitic and common Indo-European had begun to split into their descendant branches. It is generally agreed that the cat was first domesticated in Egypt, some four thousand years ago, and that the domestic cat, Felis silvestris catus, descended from the African wildcat, F. s. lybica, which is still found in much of Africa (except in rainforest regions) and parts of the Middle East. The domestic cat spread beyond Egypt only many centuries later, around the turn of the era. The i-vowel of standard Arabic Qiṭṭ, as opposed to Syriac qaṭṭā/qaṭṭu and the Latin and Greek forms with a, may be due to assimilation to the pattern fiʿl that is used for many animal names, as also with hirr.

Keywords: African wildcat; F. s. lybica; Felis silvestris catus; Indo-European words; Qiṭṭ



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