A genetic study concluded that every domesticated cat in existence could be traced back to a group of only five African Wildcats from the Middle East, circa 8000 BC!
It is pretty remarkable that all cats have been traced back to the Middle East. Though makes sense that the Middle East is their origin. Cats are actually very resilient. For example, humans can only handle temperatures somewhat comfortably up to 112 degrees Fahrenheit. Cats, on the other hand, can handle temperatures up to 133 degrees Fahrenheit if necessary.
They can also live on meat alone without water and, when need be, they can drink seawater. Domestic cats have evolved so little from the Wildcat that they can easily interbreed. They are also close to the jungle cat of Southeast Asia, the Chinese Mountain Cat, and the Arabian Sand Cat.
There are two main theories of how cats were domesticated. One theory is that they were deliberately tamed to prey on vermin. This theory is strongly refuted, though, because cats have proven to rarely take commands from humans.
The other theory is that cats were simply tolerated by people and they eventually diverged from their wild relatives through natural selection and they began hunting vermin for food around the villages where they lived with people.