Introduction to Cat

Cats, who belong to the Felidae family, are among the tiniest carnivores that humans protect. Their retractable claws are extremely important, allowing them to keep their balance, seize prey, and defend themselves against predators. The sharp canine teeth that domestic cats received from their wild ancestors may be seen in their cranium, which is one of the obvious indications of a domestic cat. Even cute cats can be resourceful predators thanks to their enhanced hearing and scent. They were one of the earliest creatures to be domesticated. Let us further delve into the history, physical and behavioural characteristics of the domestic cat. 

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History of the House Cat

The oldest known evidence of an African wildcat the scientific name of which is F. lybica being tamed was discovered near a human Neolithic cemetery at Shillourokambos, southern Cyprus, around 7200 BC. Because there is no evidence of native mammalian fauna on Cyprus, the cat and other wild mammals were most likely introduced to the island from the Middle Eastern mainland by the occupants of this Neolithic settlement. The domestic cat first appeared in Greece approximately 1200 BC, according to archaeological evidence. Domestic cats were introduced to southern Europe by Greek, Phoenician, Carthaginian, and Etruscan traders. Before the first millennium, they were introduced to Corsica and Sardinia during the Roman Empire. They were common animals surrounding settlements in Magna Graecia and Etruria by the 5th century BC. The Egyptian domestic cat lineage had arrived in a Baltic Seaport in northern Germany by the end of the Roman Empire in the 5th century. It has long been assumed that cat domestication began in ancient Egypt, as cats have been revered in Egypt since around 3100 BC. Cats have very modest modifications in anatomy and behaviour as a result of domestication, and they are still capable of surviving in the wild. Wildcats through evolution in many many years may have been pre-adapted for domestication as pets due to a variety of natural habits and features. Their small size, sociable nature, evident body language, love to play, and relatively high intelligence are among these characteristics. Leopardus cats in captivity may show fondness toward humans, but they are not tamed. House cats frequently breed with feral cats, resulting in hybrids like the Scottish Kellas cat. Hybridization is also conceivable between domestic and other Felinae species. Domestic cats were the second-most popular pet in the United States in 2017, with 95 million owners. As of 2020, 26 per cent of adults in the United Kingdom own a cat, with a population of 10.9 million pet cats. There are around 220 million owned cats and 480 million stray cats in the globe as of 2021. 


All about Cat


Classification

Features

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Mammalia

Order

Carnivora 

Suborder

Feliformia

Family

Felidae 

Scientific Name

Felis catus

Common Name

Domestic Cat

Physical attributes

Height- 28 inches

Weight- 5 to 20 pounds

Colour

White, brown, grey, black and many mixed variations.

Diet

Carnivore 


Physical and Behavioural Characteristics

  • Physical Attributes

Domestic cats come in over 100 different breeds, yet they all share the same physical form and size. The normal adult weight is 4.1 to 5.4 kg, and the typical length is 76.2 cm. The coat type and colouring or patterning of the fur are used to define interbreed variance. The average domestic cat has around 244 bones in its body, with roughly 30 of these being vertebrae. Because they have no collar bone and their scapulae lie medially on their bodies, they can jump five times their own height and slip through tight gaps. 

  • Claws of the House Cat

Claws on cats are retractable and protractible. The claws are sheathed with the skin and fur around the paw's toe pads in their typical, relaxed state. This enables the quiet tracking of prey while keeping the claws sharp by preventing wear from contact with the ground. Claws on the forefoot are usually sharper than those on the hindfoot. Cats can extend their claws on one or more paws voluntarily. Claws can be extended for hunting, self-defence, climbing, kneading, or extra traction on soft terrain. Scratching rough surfaces causes cats to shed the outer layer of their claw sheaths. The front paws of most cats have five claws, whereas the back paws have four. The dewclaw is the claw that is closest to the other claws. A protrusion that looks to be a sixth "finger" is located closer. This unique feature of the front paws, located on the inside of the wrists, is supposed to be an anti skidding device employed during jumping.

  • Cat Whiskers

Cats have dozens of movable whiskers (vibrissae) all over their bodies, especially their faces, to enhance navigation and feel. These sense the breadth of gaps and the location of things in the dark, both by touching them directly and by sensing air currents; they also activate defensive blink reflexes to protect the eyes from harm.

  • Senses of the Cat 

Sense of Taste

In comparison to humans, cats have a limited number of taste buds. Domestic and wild cats both have a taste receptor gene mutation that prevents their sweet taste buds from attaching to sugary molecules, effectively rendering them tasteless. Acids, amino acids like protein, and bitter flavours are what their taste buds respond to instead. Cats have a unique temperature preference for their food, preferring food that is around 38°C (100 °F), similar to that of a fresh kill, and consistently rejecting food that is served cold or refrigerated which would signal to the cat that the "prey" item is long dead and therefore possibly toxic or decomposing.


Sense of Sight or Vision 

Cats have superb night vision, requiring only one-sixth the amount of light required for human vision. This is largely due to the presence of a tapetum lucidum in cat eyes, which reflects any light passing through the retina back into the eye, boosting the eye's sensitivity to dim light. Large pupils are a result of acclimating to low light. Slit pupils of domestic cats allow them to focus bright light without chromatic aberration. A cat's pupils widen to encompass the majority of the visible area of its eyes under low light. The domestic cat, on the other hand, has weak colour vision and just two types of cone cells that are tuned for blue and yellowish green sensitivity; its ability to discern between red and green is restricted. 


Sense of Smell

A Jacobson's organ is found in the lips of cats and many other animals, and it is used in the behavioural process of flehmening. It enables them to detect specific odours in a manner that humans are unable to. Cats are sensitive to pheromones like 3-mercapto-3-methyl butanol, which they employ to communicate with one another through urine spraying and scent gland marking.


Hearing Senses

The domestic cat's hearing is particularly keen in the 500 Hz to 32 kHz frequency range. It can detect frequencies ranging from 55 Hz to 79,000 Hz, which is a very wide range. It has a hearing range of 10.5 octaves, compared to 9 octaves for people and dogs. Its hearing sensitivity is heightened by the pinnae, which are huge movable outer ears that amplify noises and aid in detecting the position of a noisy environment. It can detect ultrasound, allowing it to hear rodent prey's ultrasonic sounds.

  • Regulation of Body Temperature

Cats are better at preserving heat than in chilling themselves, yet their small size compared to their enormous surface area allows them to chill more effectively than dogs. External radiation causes cats to lose heat. They have sweat glands that help with evaporative cooling and licking their fur speeds up the process even more. Heat is also shed through panting, albeit this is not as effective as it is in dogs for cooling. Cats, like humans, like dark, cool places to hide from the heat of the day. Cats, like any animals, should never be left in hot, enclosed areas such as vehicles. Heatstroke and death can result as a result of this. 

  • Communication Among Cat

Be it a wild or a house cat the communication surrounding may vary but the inherent function remains the same. Cats communicate by using their claws or excrement to mark trees, fence posts, or furniture. The purpose of these smell posters is to alert others to a cat's home range. House cats have a wide range of vocalisations, from purrs to screeches.

  • Cat as a Predator 

Domestic cats, like their wild cousins, are natural hunters, able to follow prey and pounce with razor-sharp claws and fangs. At night, when their light-reflecting eyes allow them to see better than most of their victims, they are very successful. Cats have excellent hearing as well. Cats are all swift and agile, and their long tails help them maintain their excellent balance.

  • Dietary Habits of Cat 

Domestic cats are carnivores, and a good diet for them consists of roughly 30 per cent to 35 percent muscular meat, 30 percent carbs, and 8 per cent to 10 per cent lipids, all of which stimulate growth and good skin and coat. Feral cats may pursue rodents or birds as prey. Some household cats are reliant on human food. Adult females require approximately 200 to 300 calories per day, while adult males require approximately 250 to 300 calories per day. A cat's diet is primarily meat-based, and it requires at least two grammes of protein each day. This amount varies depending on the cat's weight and age. Although cats are carnivores, many common household plants and vegetables can be harmful if consumed. All felids bite the back of the neck at the base of the skull to kill their victim, separating the spinal cord from the brain stem. Small rodents, birds, fish, and some arthropods are common prey for wild animals. Plant material is occasionally consumed by domestic cats to make up for fibre deficiency.

  • Breeding Season, Gestation Period and Reproduction Cycle

During the breeding season, which runs from March to September in the northern hemisphere and October to March in the southern hemisphere, female house cats go into estrus every 21 days unless they are pregnant. During mating season, male house cats travel regions in pursuit of estrus females. Females in estrus make loud calls to possible mates while rolling around on the ground. Females display their rumps when a potential mate approaches, signalling to the male that they are in estrus. When two people meet, they may mate several times for a few hours before splitting up. Ovulation is induced in females and stimulated by intercourse. Gestation lasts between 60 and 67 days. The average litter size for this species has not been determined; however, single litters of up to 18 kittens have been observed. The weight of a neonate varies between 110 and 125 grammes. By 7 to 8 weeks after birth, the majority of kittens have been weaned and are entirely self-sufficient. By 6 months, females are reproductively mature, and by 8 months, men are reproductively mature. 

  • Caring for the Kittens

Domestic cat kittens are mostly cared for by their moms, with little or no paternal attention. Unrelated females may occasionally assist new mothers by caring for and nursing their kittens while she hunts. However, this is a rare occurrence, and many moms are forced to leave their kittens alone while hunting. Purring to their babies is also known to lower stress levels in mothers. Weaning occurs at 8 weeks after birth when females stop nursing their offspring. Kittens learn to hunt by imitating their mother before they become independent. Mothers also play an important part in educating their children to hunt by allowing them to only hunt relatively small creatures like mice. Larger prey, such as rats, are not allowed to be hunted by kittens immediately away. Weaning normally takes 7 to 8 weeks, however, kittens do not leave their mothers until they are 6 to 8 months old, depending on sex.


Fun and Interesting Facts about Cats

  1. Cats' ears can rotate 180 degrees.

  2. The average cat's hearing is at least five times better than that of an adult human.

  3. The average male of the largest cat breed weighs around 20 pounds.

  4. Female cats as young as four months old can get pregnant.

  5. Domestic cats sleep approximately 70per percent of the time. And grooming takes up 15 percent of the day.

  6. A cat is unable to see straight beneath its snout.

  7. Staying indoors allows cats to live longer.

  8. Cats, like dogs, have whiskers on the backs of their front legs.

  9. In comparison to dogs, cats have approximately twice as many neurons in their cerebral cortex.

  10. Cats have the biggest eyes of any mammal when compared in relation to their head size.

  11. When cats go around, they make relatively little noise. They can sneak up on their prey thanks to the thick, velvety pads on their paws.

  12. Cats' rough mouths can suck any piece of meat from a bone.

  13. Purring by cats is thought to be a self-soothing habit, as they do it when they are ill or distressed and joyful.

  14. The majority of cats lack eyelashes.

  15. Each of a cat's front paws has five toes, but only four on the back. Cats with additional toes, on the other hand, are not unusual. On each paw, the cat with the most toes had 32 eight!

  16. Some people believe that if you have a dream involving a white cat, you will have good luck.

  17. Meows are a kind of communication established by cats to interact with people.

  18. Cats will starve if they are given an unpleasant meal.

  19. Many cats, contrary to popular perception, are lactose intolerant.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q.1) Do Cats Have Any Idea Where They Live?

Answer.) Cats and dogs link intensely to humans, but cat behaviourists know that cats also bond passionately to their homes, marking their territory with urine spraying or bunting scent glands under their chin. However, scientists are still baffled as to how a cat's homing instinct works across long distances.

Q.2) How Far Do Stray House Cats Go from their Home

Answer.) When looking at how far cats can walk when they're lost, it's beneficial to look at the average. The majority of cats wander between 40 and 200 metres (131 and 656 feet) from their homes.

Q.3) Which Member of the Feline Family is a House Cat?

Answer.) Domestic short-haired cats should not be confused with standardised breeds such as the British Shorthair, American Shorthair, or other "Short-hair" names recognised by various registries. Domestic short-haired cats are the most prevalent type of cat in the United States, accounting for 90 to 95 per cent of all cats.

Q.4) What Foods are Poisonous to Cats?

Answer.) Raw meat and other raw proteins, such as eggs, should not be fed to cats. They should also avoid eating uncooked meat bones. Onions, garlic, alcohol, chocolate, milk/dairy products, grapes, and raisins should never be given to cats since they can harm their kidneys and liver. They also put the cat in danger of dying. Due to the nutritional differences between cat and dog food, dog food is highly hazardous for their digestive system.