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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about the cat species that is commonly kept as a pet. For the ca
t family, see Felidae. For other uses, see Cat (disambiguation) and Cats (disamb
For technical reasons, "Cat #1" redirects here. For that album, see Cat 1 (album
Domestic cat[1]
Cat poster 1.jpg
Various types of domestic cat
Conservation status
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Felis
Species: F. catus
Binomial name
Felis catus
Linnaeus, 1758[2]
Felis silvestris catus (subjective synonym)[3]
Felis catus domestica (invalid junior synonym)[4]
The domestic cat[1][5] (Latin: Felis catus) is a small, typically furry, carnivo
rous mammal. They are often called house cats when kept as indoor pets or simply
cats when there is no need to distinguish them from other felids and felines.[6
] Cats are often valued by humans for companionship and for their ability to hun
t vermin. There are more than 70 cat breeds, though different associations procl
aim different numbers according to their standards.
Cats are similar in anatomy to the other felids, with a strong flexible body, qu
ick reflexes, sharp retractable claws, and teeth adapted to killing small prey.
Cat senses fit a crepuscular and predatory ecological niche. Cats can hear sound
s too faint or too high in frequency for human ears, such as those made by mice
and other small animals. They can see in near darkness. Like most other mammals,
cats have poorer color vision and a better sense of smell than humans. Cats, de
spite being solitary hunters, are a social species and cat communication include
s the use of a variety of vocalizations (mewing, purring, trilling, hissing, gro
wling, and grunting), as well as cat pheromones and types of cat-specific body l
Cats have a high breeding rate.[8] Under controlled breeding, they can be bred a
nd shown as registered pedigree pets, a hobby known as cat fancy. Failure to con
trol the breeding of pet cats by neutering, as well as the abandonment of former
household pets, has resulted in large numbers of feral cats worldwide, requirin
g population control.[9] In certain areas outside cats' native range, this has c
ontributed, along with habitat destruction and other factors, to the extinction
of many bird species. Cats have been known to extirpate a bird species within sp
ecific regions and may have contributed to the extinction of isolated island pop
ulations.[10] Cats are thought to be primarily responsible for the extinction of
33 species of birds, and the presence of feral and free-ranging cats makes some
otherwise suitable locations unsuitable for attempted species reintroduction.[1
Since cats were venerated in ancient Egypt, they were commonly believed to have
been domesticated there,[12] but there may have been instances of domestication
as early as the Neolithic from around 9,500 years ago (7,500 BC).[13] A genetic
study in 2007 concluded that domestic cats are descended from Near Eastern wildc
ats, having diverged around 8,000 BC in the Middle East.[12][14] A 2016 study fo
und that leopard cats were undergoing domestication independently in China aroun
d 5,500 BC, though this line of partially domesticated cats leaves no trace in t
he domesticated populations of today.[15][16]
As of a 2007 study, cats are the second most popular pet in the US by number of
pets owned, behind freshwater fish.[17] In a 2010 study they were ranked the thi
rd most popular pet in the UK, after fish and dogs, with around 8 million being
Contents [hide]
1 Taxonomy and evolution
2 Nomenclature and etymology
3 Biology
3.1 Anatomy
3.2 Physiology
3.3 Senses
3.4 Health
3.4.1 Diseases
3.4.2 Poisoning
3.5 Genetics
4 Behavior
4.1 Sociability
4.2 Communication
4.3 Grooming
4.4 Fighting
4.5 Hunting and feeding
4.6 Play
4.7 Reproduction
5 Ecology
5.1 Habitats
5.2 Feral cats
5.3 Impact on prey species
5.4 Impact on birds
6 Interaction with humans
6.1 Infections transmitted from cats to humans
6.2 History and mythology
6.2.1 Superstitions and cat burning
7 See also
8 References
9 External links
Taxonomy and evolution
Main article: Cat evolution
The African wildcat, Felis silvestris lybica, is an extant subspecies that is an
cestral to the domestic cat.
The domestic cat is believed to have evolved from the Near Eastern wildcat, whos
e range covers vast portions of the Middle East westward to the Atlantic coast o
f Africa.[19][20] Between 70,000 and 100,000 years ago the animal gave rise to t
he genetic lineage that eventually produced all domesticated cats,[21] having di
verged from the Near Eastern wildcat around 8,000 BC in the Middle East.[12][14]
The felids are a rapidly evolving family of mammals that share a common ancestor
only 10 15 million years ago[22] and include lions, tigers, cougars and many othe
rs. Within this family, domestic cats (Felis catus) are part of the genus Felis,
which is a group of small cats containing about seven species (depending upon c
lassification scheme).[1][23] Members of the genus are found worldwide and inclu
de the jungle cat (Felis chaus) of southeast Asia, European wildcat (F. silvestr
is silvestris), African wildcat (F. s. lybica), the Chinese mountain cat (F. bie
ti), and the Arabian sand cat (F. margarita), among others.[24]
The domestic cat was first classified as Felis catus by Carl Linnaeus in the 10t
h edition of his Systema Naturae published in 1758.[1][2] Because of modern phyl
ogenetics, domestic cats are usually regarded as another subspecies of the wildc
at, F. silvestris.[1][3][25] This has resulted in mixed usage of the terms, as t
he domestic cat can be called by its subspecies name, Felis silvestris catus.[1]
[3][25] Wildcats have also been referred to as various subspecies of F. catus,[2
5] but in 2003, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature fixed th
e name for wildcats as F. silvestris.[26] The most common name in use for the do
mestic cat remains F. catus, following a convention for domesticated animals of
using the earliest (the senior) synonym proposed.[26] Sometimes, the domestic ca
t has been called Felis domesticus[27] or Felis domestica,[1] as proposed by Ger
man naturalist J. C. P. Erxleben in 1777, but these are not valid taxonomic name
s and have been used only rarely in scientific literature,[28] because Linnaeus'
s binomial takes precedence.[29] A population of Transcaucasian black feral cats
was once classified as Felis daemon (Satunin 1904) but now this population is c
onsidered to be a part of domestic cat.[30]
All the cats in this genus share a common ancestor that is believed to have live
d around 6 7 million years ago in the Near East (the Middle East).[31] The exact r
elationships within the Felidae are close but still uncertain,[32][33] e.g. the
Chinese mountain cat is sometimes classified (under the name Felis silvestris bi
eti) as a subspecies of the wildcat, like the North African variety F. s. lybica

Ancient Egyptian sculpture of the cat goddess Bastet. The earliest evidence of f
elines as Egyptian deities comes from a c. 3100 BC.
In comparison to dogs, cats have not undergone major changes during the domestic
ation process, as the form and behavior of the domestic cat is not radically dif
ferent from those of wildcats and domestic cats are perfectly capable of survivi
ng in the wild.[34][35] Fully domesticated house cats often interbreed with fera
l F. catus populations,[36] producing hybrids such as the Kellas cat. This limit
ed evolution during domestication means that hybridisation can occur with many o
ther felids, notably the Asian leopard cat.[37] Several natural behaviors and ch
aracteristics of wildcats may have predisposed them for domestication as pets.[3
5] These traits include their small size, social nature, obvious body language,
love of play and relatively high intelligence.[38]:12 17 Several small felid speci
es may have an inborn tendency towards tameness.[35]
Cats have either a mutualistic or commensal relationship with humans. Two main t
heories are given about how cats were domesticated. In one, people deliberately
tamed cats in a process of artificial selection as they were useful predators of
vermin.[39] This has been criticized as implausible, because the reward for suc
h an effort may have been too little; cats generally do not carry out commands a
nd although they do eat rodents, other species such as ferrets or terriers may b
e better at controlling these pests.[3] The alternative idea is that cats were s
imply tolerated by people and gradually diverged from their wild relatives throu
gh natural selection, as they adapted to hunting the vermin found around humans
in towns and villages.[3]
Nomenclature and etymology
The English word 'cat' (Old English catt) is in origin a loanword, introduced to
many languages of Europe from Latin cattus[40] and Byzantine Greek ??tta, inclu
ding Portuguese and Spanish gato, French chat, German Katze, Lithuanian kate, an
d Old Church Slavonic kotka, among others.[41] The ultimate source of the word i
s Afroasiatic, presumably from Late Egyptian caute,[42] the feminine of caus "wi
ldcat". An alternative word with cognates in many languages is English 'puss' ('
pussycat'). Attested only from the 16th century, it may have been introduced fro
m Dutch poes or from Low German puuskatte, related to Swedish kattepus, or Norwe
gian pus, pusekatt. Similar forms exist in Lithuanian pui e and Irish puiscn. The e
tymology of this word is unknown, but it may have simply arisen from a sound use
d to attract a cat.[43][44]
A group of cats is referred to as a "clowder" or a "glaring",[45] a male cat is
called a "tom" or "tomcat"[46] (or a "gib",[47] if neutered), an unaltered femal
e is called a "queen",[48] and a juvenile cat is referred to as a "kitten". The
male progenitor of a cat, especially a pedigreed cat, is its "sire",[49] and its
female progenitor is its "dam".[50] In Early Modern English, the word 'kitten'
was interchangeable with the now-obsolete word 'catling'.[51]
A pedigreed cat is one whose ancestry is recorded by a cat fancier organization.
A purebred cat is one whose ancestry contains only individuals of the same bree
d. Many pedigreed and especially purebred cats are exhibited as show cats. Cats
of unrecorded, mixed ancestry are referred to as domestic short-haired or domest
ic long-haired cats, by coat type, or commonly as random-bred, moggies (chiefly
British), or (using terms borrowed from dog breeding) mongrels or mutt-cats.
While the African wildcat is the ancestral subspecies from which domestic cats a
re descended, and wildcats and domestic cats can completely interbreed (being su
bspecies of the same species), several intermediate stages occur between domesti
c pet and pedigree cats on one hand and entirely wild animals on the other. The
semiferal cat, a mostly outdoor cat, is not owned by any one individual, but is
generally friendly to people and may be fed by several households. Feral cats ar
e associated with human habitation areas and may be fed by people or forage for
food, but are typically wary of human interaction.[36]

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