One of the fascinating things about house cats is that, while genetically identical to some wild subspecies (felis silvestris), they have adapted to live with humans. They did so not because man thought they’d be useful and bred them to accentuate such traits, but because cats chose to live with us. While selection favored traits that made them more suited to live with humans–cuter, tamer, fonder of boxes–it was not, until relatively recently, something man did.
It is generally held that cats domesticated themselves relatively recently. While dogs were domesticated as much as 15,000 years ago, cats have been living with us for roughly half that time. However, recent studies have pushed that out a bit:
Archaeologists once believed that cats were domesticated in the time of the pharaohs in ancient Egypt, approximately 4,000 years ago, between 2310 B.C. and 1950 B.C. But in 2004, researchers reported a 9,500-year-old joint burial of a cat and a human on the island of Cyprus.
Ancient Egyptian Kitten Skeletons Hint at Cat Domestication”
I think this is fascinating, both because it suggest humans have been living with cats for longer than previously thought, but also because the location. While most people associated cats with the Egyptians, these remains were found in Cyprus. Same general part of the world, but an island. I suspect the cats were brought with settlers.