Cats first arrived in America with European settlers. Here’s an overview of their journey and role in the New World:

  1. Arrival with Early Colonists: Domestic cats were brought to the Americas by European settlers in the 1600s. The Spanish, Portuguese, and later English settlers transported cats on ships to help control vermin populations aboard and in their new settlements. Cats were particularly useful in protecting food stores from rodents​ (Encyclopedia Britannica)​ .
  2. Role on Ships: Cats were integral to seafaring life. They were kept on ships not only for their ability to hunt and kill rats and mice but also for companionship to sailors during long voyages. This practice dates back to ancient times and was continued by explorers and traders who crossed the Atlantic .
  3. Spread in Colonies: Once in the New World, cats continued their role as vermin controllers. They quickly became a part of daily life in colonial settlements, both in households and farms. Their presence helped protect crops and stored food from being eaten by rodents, which was crucial for the survival and economic stability of the early colonies .
  4. Adaptation and Integration: Over time, cats adapted to their new environments and became integrated into the lives of American settlers. They were valued not just for their practical roles but also as pets and companions. As settlements expanded and developed into towns and cities, the population of domestic cats grew alongside human populations.
  5. Cultural Significance: Cats have also played various roles in American culture and folklore. For instance, they were often associated with superstitions and myths, both positive and negative. Black cats, in particular, have a long history of being associated with witchcraft and bad luck in Western culture, a belief that was carried over to America .

The historical journey of cats to America highlights their significance in human society for practical purposes and companionship. Their early introduction by European settlers laid the foundation for the widespread presence of domestic cats in the United States today.

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