Modern cats have their roots in Asia 11 million years ago, according to a DNA study of wild and domestic cats.
Eight major lineages emerged, including lions, ocelots and domestic cats.
Warren Johnson of the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Maryland, US, led the study.
He said they were able to trace the ancestry of all living cat species back to South East Asia some 11 million years ago.
In a relatively small number of migrations, cats spread across the world, as land bridges sprang up between continents.