A new study says cats traveled the world to be closer to humans, so they really DO love us!

Next time a hater tries to convince you that you love your cats more than they love you — point them to this new study, published in Nature,  which hints that cats may have CHOSEN to co-habitate with humans. The study, led by Eva-Maria Geigl of the Institut Jacques Monod, is called “How cats conquered the world (and a few Viking ships)” — we knew cats were savage.

Geigl’s study discerned that that two cat population booms occurred on Earth. The first glorious surge of kittens happened 10,000 years ago — when humans’ agriculture advancements resulted in crop cultivation. And it happened again when we began sea exploration.

Researchers sequenced the DNA of over 200 cats that were found at various archaeological sites (tombs, burial sites, etc.). They studied cats that were alive as long ago as 15,000 years, and as recently as the 1700s in an effort to understand how our beloved house cat spread around the world.

According to Nature, there is some uncertainty surrounding the domestication of our feline friends. Geigl explains:

“We don’t know the history of ancient cats. We do not know their origin, we don't know how their dispersal occurred."

So what did they discover after studying the DNA of hundreds of ancient cats?

Scientists found that genetic information was only passed down on the maternal side, which tells researchers that felines were either brought to human civilizations by the folks living there — or that the cats, BY CHOICE, migrated to be closer to the humans. The researchers also found genetic links between cats that existed in completely different eras — connecting royal Egyptian mummy cats to felines living in Europe and the Middle East thousands of years later (and perhaps to any of the Internet-famous cat royalty of modern day?!).

But back to this thing about cats, agriculture, and VIKINGS. So, during the study, researchers discovered a cat at a Viking burial site — likely connected to the feline population boom following the birth of boat exploration. Cats were probably bred to keep rats and mice away from the food sources that explorers (and VIKINGS) had on the ships.

And before that population boom, there was another huge increase in the global presence of kitties when agricultural innovations attracted rats and mice that cats obviously hunted.

CATS LOVE US. Science proved it, y'all.