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Cats might be larger now than in the past

The uncertainty of science: A careful analysis of cat bones from numerous Viking archeology sites going back 2000 years suggests that the size of cats increased during those centuries.

After carefully measuring the bones with an electronic caliper, Bitz-Thorsen and Gotfredsen compared them with those of modern Danish cats dating from 1870 to the present. On average, domesticated cats grew by about 16% between the Viking Age and today, they report this month in the Danish Journal of Archaeology.

The study only focused on Danish cats, so the findings may not be generalizable to other parts of the world. However, a 1987 study of a collection of cat bones from Germany bolsters the idea that domestic cats of the medieval age were smaller than modern-day pets.

They think the size increase was due to better food.

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3 comments

  • Dick Eagleson

    Better food and more of it. Modern Danes average being a lot bigger than their Viking ancestors too – probably by more than 16%.

  • mike shupp

    Modern day mice are fatter! or a lot more numerous.

    More likely, it’s that modern cats, at least most house cats, are fed regularly, even as kittens. They’re more apt to reach maturity, more apt to reach their full potential size. Transport those Viking cats through time to the present day and rear them now, and they too would … grow up like Vikings!

  • wayne

    Looks sorta like a picture of a Maine Coon at the site, and they are large, no matter what!

    I would flip the cause-n-effect around, [assuming more abundant food as a causally related factor] and rather say, “cats larger than their average-peers had greater access to more-food.” Otherwise you run the risk of explanatory-fictions. Selection-pressures, act on Populations, and not individuals.

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