The African wild cat is different from some of the other smaller wild cats. It can be tamed. Other cats, like the very similar European wild cat, stay aloof when they grow up even if they are reared by humans.
An African wild cat reared by humans seems to accept them as family and very occasionally people living in Africa adopt them as pets. Nonetheless from the start when the first African wild cats began to live near or in human settlements, their relationship to humans was very different from that of the other domesticated animals. Cattle were herded or penned up then and eaten by men.
Their breeding was controlled. Dogs were used by early man as guard dogs and as hunting assistants – though the game they pulled down was primarily to feed men and they only got the bits left over. Their instinct to belong to a family, to hunt in a group, had betrayed them into obeying human instructions. Cats never did.
The less frightened ones moved into human settlements of their own accord, and were welcomed for their ability to get rid of the mice and rats that overran grain stores. But humans couldn’t exploit the cat’s hunting activities, because mice were of no use to the human larder. So the cats were left to hunt on their own (just as they did in the wild).
They were not trained, controlled, tied up, or put in cages or fields. They lived side by side with humans, each species conferring a benefit on the other. It was remarkably equal relationship. It still is. Where cats are allowed access to outdoors, they will sometimes leave home to find a better owner!