The earliest evidence of cats cohabiting with man comes from a 9,500 year old grave in Cyprus, where a human and a cat were found buried together. Previously, Egyptian art and the discovery of cats which had been mummified just before 2,000 B.C. had been the earliest clear evidence of cats in human culture.
Domestication probably began with farmers in the Middle East. A change in human farming activities meant that quantities of grain were harvested and stored around human settlements, which attracted large number of rodents – effectively forming a concentrated food supply for predators
How cats became domesticated
The result was a divergence into two populations of cats – those more tolerant of living near humans in higher cat density areas (which have evolved into today’s domestic cat, found all over the world) and those more fearful cats which continued to live out on the sparse savannah which includes a species still found today, the African wildcat).
Differences to the domestication of dogs
Ancient EgyptOriginal image URL - http://www.flickr.com/77334245@N00/5908486656/ Image author - Carsten ten Brink, licence - CC BY-ND-NC 2.0
A mummified cat in the Egyptian galleries of the British MuseumOriginal image URL - http://www.flickr.com/90468007@N00/133080404/ Image author - Michael Reeve, licence - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0