The history of mankind is interwoven with the domestication of animals. Dogs may have been domesticated in prehistoric Europe perhaps as long as 36,000 years ago. The first cats are thought to have been domesticated in Egypt, while the invention of the dog collar is traced to ancient Mesopotamia.
Most pets in the ancient world filled important roles in their households, often as guards, hunting companions, or pest control. Familiar animals, like cats, birds, and dogs were common pets in antiquity, but more unusual animals such as cheetahs, crocodiles, and monkeys were also kept as exotic pets. In this gallery of 25 images, we showcase some of the finest examples of pets in ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Persian, Greek, and Roman art.