Cats were domesticated accidentally. Around 3000 BC in Egypt, grain and other foodstuffs stored in woven baskets were attracting hordes of rats and mice. Without traps or poison to keep them in check, the vermin posed a serious problem. But soon the African wildcat, a small yellow cat with black stripes, was attracted to the cities by the abundant food supply. The rodent catchers, ancestors of today's domesticated cats, were welcomed. People began leaving scraps of food outside their homes in hopes of attracting the cats. The felines stuck around: Food was plentiful, and larger animals that might prey on the cats were few. One imagines that it wasn't long before delighted Egyptians discovered a cat's satisfied purr.