CATS AND HUMANS have shared the same households for at least 9,000 years, but we know little about how our feline friends became domesticated. An analysis of the cat genome by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine, in St. Louis, reveals some clues. Specific regions of the domestic-cat genome differ from those of wild cats in behaviors such as memory, fear and reward-seeking, which are thought to be important in the domestication process. Other differences, such as special fat-metabolizing genes and an ability to hear in the ultrasonic range, help explain why cats eat mainly meat and why they're so good at tracking prey.

* A new biomarker has been found to identify the onset of kidney disease in cats an average of 17 months earlier than current methods. When a test based on the biomarker is developed, veterinarians and pet owners may be able to identify the disease earlier and prolong cats' lives through diet and other therapies.