Stefan Sirucek reported for National Geographic in December 2013 that a then recent study showed that cats and humans began hanging out together as far back as 9,500 years ago.
“Today’s domestic cats are believed to be the descendants of ancient Near Eastern wildcats, and the previous discovery of a wildcat buried near a human in Cyprus roughly 9,500 years ago suggests some type of long-running relationship. The Egyptians famously thought very highly of cats, keeping them domestically and even administering medical treatment to them some 4,000 years ago.
“Now a new study marks possibly the earliest known evidence of a beneficial relationship between humans and cats. Researchers analyzing 5,300-year-old cat bones, found at the village of Quanhucun in China, determined that the bones match up closely with those of modern domestic cats—and that people may have even fed the animals. “