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Black Cats In the Middle Ages, cats were not very popular because of their association with witchcraft

and black magic. Superstitions about cats, some

of them current today, date back to this period. Fishermans wives believed keeping a black cat in your home meant your husband would always return from the sea. In the 9th century, King Henry I of Saxony decreed that the fine for killing a cat should be sixty bushels of corn. There are still people who believe that the cat is a reincarnation of the devil and regard it as bad luck. Egyptian Cats Around 450 BC, anyone who killed a cat in Egypt was punished by death. When a cat died, the entire family would shave off their eyebrows as a sign of mourning. The male cat is Ra himself, and he was called Mau because of the speech of the god Sa, who said concerning him: ` He is like

unto that which he hath made, therefore did the name of Ra become Mau. papyrus from the XV111 Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, c.1500 BC Facts & Legends. Norse Cats In Norse mythological facts, the chariot of Freya, goddess of beauty, love and fertility, is drawn by two large longhaired cats; these two cats were often connected with the

powers of creativity, the Earth Mother and fertility gods.

Japanese Cats Mi-Ki, or tri-colored cats, have been long taken by Japanese sailors on their ships to bring them good luck. The native Bobtail, according to legend, is the Japanese cat of preference because it is less likely to bewitch you with a twitching tail.

The figure of a cat with its left paw raised is commonly seen in gift shops in Japan where they are sold as souvenirs. It is believed that the beckoning cat brings good fortune to its owner. Pussy Willows There is a legend that many little kittens were thrown into a river to drown. The mother cat wept and was so distraught that the willow trees on the bank felt compassion and held out their branches to the struggling kittens who clung to them and were saved. Ever since that time, every

spring, the willow trees wear gray buds that feel as soft and silky as kitten tails. That is why they are called pussy willows. Chinese Cats Ancient Chinese legend maintains that the cat is the product of a lioness and a monkey - the lioness endowing her offspring with dignity and the monkey with curiosity and playfulness. The Prophet Mohammed The Prophet Mohammed, the founder of the Moslem religion, believed dogs were unclean, but loved cats so much that he once cut the sleeve from his robe to avoid disturbing his cat which had gone to sleep in his arms. According to legend, the M marking on the forehead of the tabby cat was created by the Prophet Mohammed when he rested his hand on the brow of his favorite cat. Irish Cats Poem Legend of the Kilkenny Cats (a testimony to the determination of a cat) There once was two cats of Kilkenny, And each thought there was one cat too many; So they quarreled and fought, And they scratched and they bit, Until there was only their nails, And the tips of their tails, Instead of two cats, there werent any.

Bohemian Cats In what was known as Bohemia, now western Czechoslovakia, the cat was regarded as a symbol of fertility.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search For other uses, see Cat (disambiguation) and Cats (disambiguation). Domestic cat[1]

Conservation status Domesticated Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Mammalia Order: Carnivora Family: Felidae Genus: Felis Species: F. catus Binomial name Felis catus
Linnaeus, 1758[2]

Felis catus domestica (invalid junior synonym)[3] Felis silvestris catus[4]

The cat (Felis catus), also known as the domestic cat or housecat[5] to distinguish it from other felids and felines, is a small, usually furry, domesticated, carnivorous mammal that is valued by humans for its companionship and for its ability to hunt vermin and household pests. Cats have been associated with humans for at least 9,500 years,[6] and are currently the most popular pet in the world.[7] Owing to their close association with humans, cats are now found almost everywhere in the world. Cats are similar in anatomy to the other felids, with strong, flexible bodies, quick reflexes, sharp retractable claws, and teeth adapted to killing small prey. As nocturnal predators, cats use their acute hearing and ability to see in near darkness to locate prey. Not only can cats hear sounds too faint for human ears, they can also hear sounds higher in frequency than humans can perceive. This is because the usual prey of cats (particularly rodents such as mice) make high frequency noises, so the hearing of the cat has evolved to pinpoint these faint high-pitched sounds. Cats also have a much better sense of smell than humans. Despite being solitary hunters, cats are a social species and use a variety of vocalizations, pheromones and types of body language for communication. These include meowing, purring, trilling, hissing, growling, and grunting.[8] Cats have a rapid breeding rate. Under controlled breeding, they can be bred and shown as registered pedigree pets, a hobby known as cat fancy. Failure to control the breeding of pet cats by spaying and neutering and the abandonment of former household pets has resulted in large numbers of feral cats worldwide, with a population of up to 60 million of these animals in the United States alone.[9] As The New York Times wrote in 2007, "Until recently the cat was commonly believed to have been domesticated in ancient Egypt, where it was a cult animal",[10] but a study that year revealed that the lines of descent of all house cats probably run through as few as five self-domesticating African Wildcats (Felis silvestris lybica) c. 8000 BC, in the Near East.[4] The earliest direct evidence of cat domestication is a kitten that was buried alongside a human 9,500 years ago in Cyprus.[11]


1 Nomenclature and etymology 2 Taxonomy and evolution 3 Genetics 4 Anatomy 5 Physiology 6 Senses 7 Health o 7.1 Diseases o 7.2 Poisoning 8 Behavior o 8.1 Sociability o 8.2 Grooming

8.3 Fighting 8.4 Hunting and feeding 8.5 Play 8.6 Reproduction 9 Ecology o 9.1 Habitats o 9.2 Impact on prey species o 9.3 Impact on birds 10 Cats and humans o 10.1 Domesticated varieties 10.1.1 Coat patterns 10.1.2 Body types o 10.2 Effects on human health o 10.3 Indoor scratching o 10.4 Waste 11 Feral cats 12 History and mythology 13 See also 14 References 15 Bibliography 16 External links

o o o o

Nomenclature and etymology

The word cat derives from Old English catt, which belongs to a group of related words in European languages, including Welsh cath, Spanish gato, French chat (French pronunciation: [a])[12], Basque katu, Byzantine Greek ktia, Old Irish cat, Frisian and Dutch kat, German Katze, Armenian katu, and Old Church Slavonic kotka. The ultimate source of all these terms is Late Latin catus, cattus, catta "domestic cat", as opposed to feles 'European wildcat'. It is unclear whether the Greek or the Latin came first, but, like Arabic qi and Nubian kds, they were undoubtedly borrowed from a word in an Afro-Asiatic language akin to Berber kaddska, meaning 'wildcat'.[13] The term puss (as in pussycat) may come from Dutch poes or from Low German Puuskatte, dialectal Swedish kattepus, or Norwegian pus, pusekatt, all of which primarily denote a woman and, by extension, a female cat.[14] Classification based on human interaction[15] Population Food source Shelter Socialized Pedigree Fed by owner Human homes Yes Pet Fed by owner Human homes Yes Semi-feral General feeding Buildings Yes Feral General feeding/foraging Buildings No Pseudo-wildcat Foraging/hunting None No While wildcats are the ancestral species from which domestic cats are descended, there are several intermediate stages between domestic pet and pedigree cats and these

entirely wild cats. The semi-feral cat is a cat that is not owned by any one individual, but is generally friendly to people and may be fed by several households. Feral cats are associated with human habitations and may be fed by people or forage in rubbish, but are wary of human interaction. Pseudo-wildcats are descended from domestic cats, but now tend to live entirely independently from people.[15] A group of cats is referred to as a "clowder", a male cat is called a "tom" (or a "gib", if neutered), and a female is called a "molly" or "queen". The male progenitor of a cat, especially a pedigreed cat, is its "sire", and its female progenitor is its "dam". An immature cat is called a "kitten" (which is also an alternative name for young rats, rabbits, hedgehogs, beavers, squirrels and skunks). In medieval Britain, the word kitten was interchangeable with the word catling. A cat whose ancestry is formally registered is called a pedigreed cat, purebred cat, or a show cat. In strict terms, a pure-bred cat is one whose ancestry contains only individuals of the same breed. A pedigreed cat is one whose ancestry is recorded, but may have ancestors of different breeds. Cats of unrecorded mixed ancestry are referred to as domestic longhairs and domestic shorthairs or commonly as randombred, moggies, mongrels, or mutt-cats.

Taxonomy and evolution

Main article: Cat evolution

The wildcat Felis silvestris is a close relative and possible ancestor of the domestic cat. The Felids are a rapidly evolving family of mammals that share a common ancestor only 1015 million years ago,[16] and include, in addition to the domestic cat, lions, tigers, cougars, and many others. Within this family, domestic cats (Felis catus) are part of the genus Felis, which is a group of small cats containing seven species.[1][17] Members of the genus are found worldwide and include the Jungle Cat (Felis chaus) of southeast Asia, the African Wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica), the Chinese Mountain Cat (Felis bieti) and the Arabian Sand Cat (Felis margarita).[18] All the cats in this genus share a common ancestor that probably lived around 6 7 million years ago in Asia.[19] Although the exact relationships within the Felidae are still uncertain,[20][21] both the Chinese Mountain Cat and the African Wildcat are close relations of the domestic cat and are both classed as subspecies of the Wildcat Felis silvestris.[4][20] As domestic cats are little altered from wildcats, they can readily

interbreed. This hybridization may pose a danger to the genetic distinctiveness of wildcat populations, particularly in Scotland and Hungary.[22] The domestic cat was first classified as Felis catus by Carolus Linnaeus in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae of 1758.[2][23] However, because of modern phylogenetics, domestic cats are now usually regarded as another subspecies of the Wildcat Felis silvestris.[4][23][24] This has resulted in mixed usage of the terms, as the domestic cat can be called by its subspecies name, Felis silvestris catus.[1][4] Wildcats have also been referred to as various subspecies of F. catus,[24] but in 2003 the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature fixed the name for wildcats as F. silvestris.[25] The most common name in use for the domestic cat remains F. catus, following a convention for domesticated animals of using the earliest (the senior) synonym proposed.[25] Sometimes the domestic cat is called Felis domesticus[26] or Felis domestica,[23] the term coined by German naturalist Johann Christian Polycarp Erxleben in 1777. These are not valid taxonomic names, and Linnaeus' binomial takes precedence.[27] Cats have either a mutualistic or commensal relationship with humans. However, in comparison to dogs, cats have not undergone major changes during the domestication process, as the form and behavior of the domestic cat are not radically different from those of wildcats, and domestic cats are perfectly capable of surviving in the wild.[28][29] This limited evolution during domestication means that domestic cats tend to interbreed freely with feral cats, which distinguishes them from other domesticated animals.[15] However, several natural behaviors and characteristics of wildcats may have preadapted them for domestication as pets.[29] These traits include their small size, social nature, obvious body language, love of play and relatively high intelligence;[30] they may also have an inborn tendency towards tameness.[29] There are two main theories about how cats were domesticated. In one, people deliberately tamed cats in a process of artificial selection, as they were useful predators of vermin.[31] However, this has been criticized as implausible, because there may have been little reward for such an effort: cats do not carry out commands and, although they do eat rodents, other species such as ferrets or terriers may be better at controlling these pests.[4] The alternative idea is that cats were simply tolerated by people and gradually diverged from their 'wild' relatives through natural selection, as they adapted to hunting the vermin found around humans in towns and villages.[4]

Main article: Cat genetics

Blue-eyed cats with white fur have a high incidence of genetic deafness.[32] The domesticated cat and its closest wild ancestor are both diploid organisms that possess 38 chromosomes[33] and roughly 20,000 genes.[34] About 250 heritable genetic disorders have been identified in cats, many similar to human inborn errors.[35] The high level of similarity among the metabolisms of mammals allows many of these feline diseases to be diagnosed using genetic tests that were originally developed for use in humans, as well as the use of cats in the study of the human diseases.[36][37] An example of a mutation that is shared among all felines, including the big cats, is a mutant chemosensor in their taste buds that prevents them from tasting sweetness, which may explain their indifference to fruits, berries, and other sugary foods.[38] In some breeds of cats congenital deafness is very common, with most white cats (but not albinos) being affected, particularly if they also have blue eyes.[32] The genes responsible for this defect are unknown, but the disease is studied in the hope that it may shed light on the causes of hereditary deafness in humans.[39] Since a large variety of coat patterns exist within the various cat breeds, the cat is an excellent animal to study the coat genetics of hair growth and coloration.[40] Several genes interact to produce cats' hair color and coat patterns. Different combinations of these genes give different phenotypes. For example, the enzyme tyrosinase is needed to produce the dark pigment melanin and Burmese cats have a mutant form that is only active at low temperatures, resulting in color appearing only on the cooler ears, tail and paws.[41] A completely inactive gene for tyrosinase is found in albino cats, which therefore lack all pigment.[42] Hair length is determined by the gene for fibroblast growth factor 5, with inactive copies of this gene causing long hair.[43]

Purebreds normally have amber eyes, while nonpedigrees are more likely to have green eyes The Cat Genome Project, sponsored by the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity at the U.S. National Cancer Institute Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center in Frederick, Maryland, aims to help the development of the cat as an animal model for human hereditary and infectious diseases, as well as contributing to the understanding of the evolution of mammals.[37] This effort led to the publication in 2007 of an initial draft of the genome of an Abyssinian cat called Cinnamon.[34] The existence of a draft genome has led to the discovery of several cat disease genes,[34] and even allowed the development of cat genetic fingerprinting for use in forensics.[44]


Diagram of the general anatomy of a male Domestic cats are similar in size to the other members of the genus Felis, typically weighing between 4 kilograms (8 lb 13 oz) and 5 kilograms (11 lb 0 oz).[20] However, some breeds, such as the Maine Coon, can exceed 11 kilograms (25 lb). Conversely, very small cats (less than 1.8 kilograms (3 lb 15 oz)) have been reported.[45] The world record for the largest cat is 21.297 kilograms (46 lb 15.2 oz).[46] The smallest adult cat ever officially recorded weighed around 1.36 kilograms (3 lb).[47] Cats average about 2325 centimeters (910 in) in height and 46 centimeters (18.1 in) in head/body length (males being larger than females), with tails averaging 30 centimeters (11.8 in) in length.[48] Cats have 7 cervical vertebrae like almost all mammals, 13 thoracic vertebrae (humans have 12), 7 lumbar vertebrae (humans have 5), 3 sacral vertebrae like most mammals (humans have 5 because of their bipedal posture), and a variable number of caudal vertebrae in the tail (humans retain 3 to 5 caudal vertebrae, fused into an internal coccyx).[49] The extra lumbar and thoracic vertebrae account for the cat's spinal mobility and flexibility. Attached to the spine are 13 ribs, the shoulder, and the pelvis.[50] Unlike human arms, cat forelimbs are attached to the shoulder by freefloating clavicle bones, which allow them to pass their body through any space into which they can fit their heads.[51]

Skull The cat skull is unusual among mammals in having very large eye sockets and a powerful and specialized jaw.[52] Within the jaw, cats have teeth adapted for killing prey and tearing meat. When it overpowers its prey, a cat delivers a lethal neck bite with its two long canine teeth, inserting them between two of the prey's vertebrae and severing its spinal cord, causing irreversible paralysis and death.[53] Compared to other felines, domestic cats have narrowly spaced canine teeth; which is an adaptation to their preferred prey of small rodents, which have small vertebrae.[53] The premolar and first molar together compose the carnassial pair on each side of the mouth, which efficiently shears meat into small pieces, like a pair of scissors. These are vital in feeding, since cats' small molars cannot chew food effectively.[54] Cats, like dogs, are digitigrades. They walk directly on their toes, with the bones of their feet making up the lower part of the visible leg.[55] Cats are capable of walking very precisely, because like all felines they directly register; that is, they place each hind paw (almost) directly in the print of the corresponding forepaw, minimizing noise and visible tracks. This also provides sure footing for their hind paws when they navigate rough terrain. Unlike most mammals, when cats walk, they use a "pacing" gait; that is, they move the two legs on one side of the body before the legs on the other side. This trait is shared with camels and giraffes. As a walk speeds up into a trot, a cat's gait will change to be a "diagonal" gait, similar to other mammals: the diagonally opposite hind and forelegs will move simultaneously.[56] Like almost all members of the Felidae family, cats have protractable claws.[57] In their normal, relaxed position the claws are sheathed with the skin and fur around the toe pads. This keeps the claws sharp by preventing wear from contact with the ground and allows the silent stalking of prey. The claws on the forefeet are typically sharper than those on the hind feet.[58] Cats can voluntarily extend their claws on one or more paws. They may extend their claws in hunting or self-defense, climbing, "kneading", or for extra traction on soft surfaces. Most cats have five claws on their front paws, and four on their rear paws.[59] The fifth front claw (the dewclaw) is proximal to the other claws. More proximally, there is a protrusion which appears to be a sixth "finger". This special feature of the front paws, on the inside of the wrists, is the carpal pad, also found on the paws of big cats and dogs. It has no function in normal walking, but is thought to be an anti-skidding device used while jumping. Some breeds of cats are prone to polydactylyism, and may have eight or even ten toes.[59] These are particularly common along the North-East coast of North America.[60]


Normal physiological values[61] Body temperature 38.6 C (101.5 F) Heart rate 120140 beats per minute Breathing rate 1640 breaths per minute As cats are familiar and easily kept animals, their physiology has been particularly well studied; it generally resembles that of other carnivorous mammals but displays several unusual features probably attributable to cats' descent from desert-dwelling species.[26] For instance, cats are able to tolerate quite high temperatures: humans generally start to feel uncomfortable when their skin temperature passes about 44.5 C (112 F), but cats show no discomfort until their skin reaches around 52 C (126 F),[62] and can tolerate temperatures of up to 56 C (133 F) if they have access to water.[63] Cats conserve heat by reducing the flow of blood to their skin and lose heat by evaporation through their mouth. They do not sweat, and pant only at very high temperatures.[64] Unusually, a cat's body temperature does not vary throughout the day; this is part of cats' general lack of circadian rhythms and may reflect their tendency to be active both during the day and at night.[65] Cats' feces are usually dry and their urine is also highly concentrated, both of which are adaptations that allow cats to retain as much fluid as possible.[26] Their kidneys are so efficient that cats can survive on a diet consisting only of meat, with no additional water,[66] and can even rehydrate by drinking seawater.[67][68] Cats are obligate carnivores: their physiology has evolved to efficiently process meat, and they have difficulty digesting plant matter.[26] In contrast to omnivores such as rats, which only require about 4% protein in their diet, about 20% of a cat's diet must be protein.[26] Cats are unusually dependent on a constant supply of the amino acid arginine, and a diet lacking arginine causes marked weight loss and can be rapidly fatal.[69] Another unusual feature is that the cat also cannot produce the amino acid taurine, with taurine deficiency causing macular degeneration, where the cat's retina slowly degenerates, causing irreversible blindness.[26] Since cats tend to eat all of their prey, they obtain minerals by digesting animal bones, and a diet composed only of meat may cause calcium deficiency.[26] A cat's digestive tract is also adapted to meat eating, being much shorter than that of omnivores and having low levels of several of the digestive enzymes that are needed to digest carbohydrates.[70] These traits severely limit the cat's ability to digest and use plant-derived nutrients, as well as certain fatty acids.[70] Despite the cat's meatoriented physiology, several vegetarian or vegan cat foods have been marketed that are supplemented with chemically synthesized taurine and other nutrients, in attempts to produce a complete diet. However, some of these products still fail to provide all the nutrients that cats require,[71] and diets containing no animal products pose the risk of causing severe nutritional deficiencies.[72]

Main article: Cat senses

Cats have excellent night vision and can see at only one-sixth the light level required for human vision.[73] This is partly the result of cat eyes having a tapetum lucidum, which reflects any light that passes through the retina back into the eye, thereby increasing the eye's sensitivity to dim light.[74] Another adaptation to dim light is the large pupils of cats' eyes. Unlike some big cats, such as tigers, domestic cats have slit pupils.[75] These slit pupils can focus bright light without chromatic aberration, and are needed since the domestic cat's pupils are much larger, relative to their eyes, than the pupils of the big cats.[75] Indeed, at low light levels a cat's pupils will expand to cover most of the exposed surface of its eyes.[76] However, domestic cats have rather poor color vision and (like most non-primate mammals) have only two types of cones, optimized for sensitivity to blue and yellowish green; they have limited ability to distinguish between red and green,[77] although they can achieve this in some conditions.[78]

Cats' whiskers are highly sensitive to touch. Cats have excellent hearing and can detect an extremely broad range of frequencies. They can hear higher-pitched sounds than either dogs or humans, detecting frequencies from 55 Hz up to 79 kHz, a range of 10.5 octaves; while humans can only hear from 31 Hz up to 18 kHz, and dogs hear from 67 Hz to 44 kHz, which are both ranges of about 9 octaves.[79][80] Cats do not use this ability to hear ultrasound for communication but it is probably important in hunting,[81] since many species of rodents make ultrasonic calls.[82] Cats' hearing is also extremely sensitive and is among the best of any mammal,[79] being most acute in the range of 500 Hz to 32 kHz.[83] This sensitivity is further enhanced by the cat's large movable outer ears (their pinnae), which both amplify sounds and help a cat sense the direction from which a noise is coming.[81] Cats have an acute sense of smell, which is due in part to their well-developed olfactory bulb and also to a large surface of olfactory mucosa, in cats this mucosa is about 5.8 cm2 in area, which is about twice that of humans and only 1.7-fold less than the average dog.[84] Cats are very sensitive to pheromones such as 3-mercapto-3methylbutan-1-ol,[85] which they use to communicate through urine spraying and marking with scent glands.[86] Cats also respond strongly to plants such as catnip which contains nepetalactone, as they can detect this substance at less than one part per billion.[87] This response is also produced by other plants, such as Silver Vine and valerian, and may be caused by the smell of these plants mimicking a pheromone and stimulating cats' social or sexual behaviors.[88]

Cats have relatively few taste buds compared to humans. Owing to a mutation in an early cat ancestor, one of two genes necessary to taste sweetness may have been lost by the cat family.[38] Their taste buds instead respond to amino acids, bitter tastes and acids.[89] To aid with navigation and sensation, cats have dozens of movable vibrissae (whiskers) over their body, especially their face. These provide information on the width of gaps and on the location of objects in the dark, both by touching objects directly and by sensing air currents; they also trigger protective blink reflexes to protect the eyes from damage.[90]

Main article: Cat health In captivity, an average life expectancy for male indoor cats at birth is 12 to 14 years,[91] with females usually living a year or two longer. However, there have been records of cats reaching into their 20s and 30s, with the oldest known cat, Creme Puff, dying at a verified age of 38.[92] Having a cat neutered or spayed confers some health benefits, since castrated males cannot develop testicular cancer, spayed females cannot develop uterine or ovarian cancer, and both have a reduced risk of mammary cancer.[93] The lifespan of feral cats is hard to determine accurately, although one study reported a median age of 4.7 years, with a range between 0 to 8.3 years.[94]

Cats can suffer from a wide range of health problems, including infectious diseases, parasites, injuries and chronic disease. Vaccinations are available for many of these diseases, and domestic cats are regularly given treatments to eliminate parasites such as worms and fleas.

In addition to obvious dangers such as rodenticides, insecticides and weed killers, cats may be poisoned by many chemicals that are usually considered safe.[95] This is because their livers are less effective at some forms of detoxification than those of other animals, including humans and dogs.[26][96] Some of the most common causes of poisoning in cats are antifreeze and rodent baits.[97] It has also been suggested that cats may be particularly sensitive to environmental pollutants.[95][98] When a cat has a sudden or prolonged serious illness without any obvious cause, it is therefore possible that it has been exposed to a toxin. Human medicines should never be given to cats. For example, the painkiller paracetamol (also called acetaminophen, sold as Tylenol and Panadol) is extremely toxic to cats: even very small doses need immediate treatment and can be fatal.[99][100] Even aspirin, which is sometimes used to treat arthritis in cats, is much more toxic to them than to humans and must be administered cautiously.[95] Similarly, application of minoxidil (Rogaine) to the skin of cats, either accidentally or by well-meaning owners attempting to counter loss of fur, has sometimes been fatal.[101] Essential oils can be toxic to cats and there have been reported cases of serious illnesses caused by tea tree oil, and tea tree oil-based flea treatments and shampoos.[102]

Other common household substances that should be used with caution around cats include mothballs and other naphthalene products.[95] Phenol-based products (PineSol, Dettol (Lysol) or hexachlorophene[95]) are often used for cleaning and disinfecting near cats' feeding areas or litter boxes but these can sometimes be fatal.[103] Ethylene glycol, often used as an automotive antifreeze, is particularly appealing to cats, and as little as a teaspoonful can be fatal.[104] Some human foods are toxic to cats; for example theobromine in chocolate can cause theobromine poisoning, although few cats will eat chocolate.[105] Large amounts of onions or garlic are also poisonous to cats.[95] Many houseplants are also dangerous,[106] such as Philodendron species and the leaves of the Easter Lily, which can cause permanent and lifethreatening kidney damage.[107]

See also: Cat behavior and cat communication Free-ranging cats are active both day and night, although they tend to be slightly more active at night.[108][109] The timing of cats' activity is quite flexible and varied, which means that house cats may be more active in the morning and evening (crepuscular behavior), as a response to greater human activity at these times.[110] House cats have territories that vary considerably in size, in one study ranging from seven to 28 hectares (69 acres).[109] Although they spend the majority of their time in the vicinity of their home, they can range many hundreds of meters from this central point.[109] Cats conserve energy by sleeping more than most animals, especially as they grow older. The daily duration of sleep varies, usually 1216 hours, with 1314 being the average. Some cats can sleep as much as 20 hours in a 24-hour period. The term cat nap refers to the cat's ability to fall asleep (lightly) for a brief period and has entered the English lexiconsomeone who nods off for a few minutes is said to be "taking a cat nap". During sleep cats experience short periods of rapid eye movement sleep accompanied by muscle twitches, which suggests that they are dreaming.[111]


Social grooming in a pair Although wildcats are solitary, the social behavior of domestic cats is much more variable and ranges from widely dispersed individuals to feral cat colonies that form around a food source, based on groups of co-operating females.[112][113] Within such groups one cat is usually dominant over the others.[114] Each cat in a colony holds a distinct territory, with sexually active males having the largest territories, which are

about ten times larger than those of female cats and may overlap with several females' territories.[86] These territories are marked by urine spraying, by rubbing objects at head height with secretions from facial glands and by defecation.[86] Between these territories are neutral areas where cats watch and greet one another without territorial conflicts. Outside these neutral areas, territory holders usually chase away stranger cats, at first by staring, hissing, and growling, and if that does not work, by short but noisy and violent attacks. Despite some cats cohabiting in colonies, cats do not have a social survival strategy, or a pack mentality and always hunt alone.[115] Domestic cats use many vocalizations for communication, including purring, trilling, hissing, growling, snarling and several different forms of meowing.[8] In contrast, feral cats are generally silent.[116] Their types of body language, including position of ears and tail, relaxation of whole body, and kneading of paws, are all indicators of mood. The tail and ears are particularly important social signal in cats, with a raised tail acting as a friendly greeting.[117][118] Tail raising also indicates the cat's position in the group's social hierarchy, with dominant individuals raising their tails less often than subordinate animals.[118] Nose-touching is also a common greeting and may be followed by social grooming, which is solicited by one of the cats raising and tilting its head.[113] However, some pet cats are poorly socialized. In particular older cats may show aggressiveness towards newly arrived kittens, which may include biting and scratching; this type of behavior is known as Feline Asocial Aggression.[119] For cats, life in proximity with humans (and other animals kept by humans) amounts to a "symbiotic social adaptation". They may express great affection towards their human companions, especially if they imprint on them at a very young age and are treated with consistent affection. It has been suggested that, ethologically, the human keeper of a cat functions as a sort of surrogate for the cat's mother, and that adult domestic cats live their lives in a kind of extended kittenhood, a form of behavioral neoteny.[120] Conversely, the high-pitched purrs cats make to solicit food may mimic the cries of a hungry human infant, making them particularly hard for humans to ignore.[121]


The hooked papillae on a cat's tongue act like a hairbrush to help clean and detangle fur. Cats are known for their cleanliness, spending many hours licking their coats.[122] The cat's tongue has backwards-facing spines about 500 micrometers long, which are called papillae. These are quite rigid, as they contain keratin.[123] These spines allow cats to groom themselves by licking their fur, with the rows of papillae acting like a

hairbrush. Some cats, particularly longhaired cats, occasionally regurgitate hairballs of fur that have collected in their stomachs from grooming. These clumps of fur are usually sausage-shaped and about two to three centimeters long. Hairballs can be prevented with remedies that ease elimination of the hair through the gut, as well as regular grooming of the coat with a comb or stiff brush.[122]


Cats intimidate opponents by arching their backs, raising their fur, turning sideways, and hissing. With domestic cats, males are more likely to fight than females.[124] With feral cats, the most common reason for cat fighting is competition between two males to mate with a female: here most fights will be won by the heavier male.[125] Another possible reason for fighting in domestic cats is when the cats have difficulties in establishing a territory within a small home.[124] Female cats will also fight over territory or to defend their kittens. Spaying females and neutering males will decrease or eliminate this behavior in many cases, suggesting that the behavior is linked to sex hormones. When fighting, cats make themselves appear more impressive and threatening by raising their fur and arching their backs, thus increasing their apparent size.[117] Often, the ears are pointed down and back to avoid damage to the inner ear and potentially listen for any changes behind them while focused forward. Attacks usually comprise powerful slaps to the face and body with the forepaws as well as bites, but serious damage is rare; usually the loser runs away with little more than a few scratches to the face, and sometimes the ears. Cats will also throw themselves to the ground in a defensive posture to rake their opponent's belly with their powerful hind legs.[126] Normally, serious injuries from fighting will be limited to infections of scratches and bites, though these can occasionally kill cats if untreated. In addition, bites are probably the main route of transmission of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).[127] Sexually active males will usually be involved in many fights during their lives, and often have decidedly battered faces with obvious scars and cuts to the ears and nose.

Hunting and feeding

Cats feed on small prey, primarily birds and rodents.[128] Feral cats and house cats that are free-fed tend to consume many small meals in a single day, although the frequency and size of meals varies between individuals.[115] Cats use two hunting

strategies, either stalking prey actively, or waiting in ambush until an animal comes close enough to be captured. Although it is not certain, the type of strategy used may depend on the prey species in the area, with for example, cats waiting in ambush outside burrows, but tending to actively stalk birds.[129] Most breeds of cat have a noted fondness for settling in high places, or perching. In the wild, a higher place may serve as a concealed site from which to hunt; domestic cats may strike prey by pouncing from such a perch as a tree branch, as does a leopard.[130] Other possible explanations include that height gives the cat a better observation point, allowing it to survey its territory. During a fall from a high place, a cat can reflexively twist its body and right itself using its acute sense of balance and flexibility.[131] This is known as the cat's "righting reflex". It always rights itself in the same way, provided it has the time to do so, during a fall. The height required for this to occur is around 90 cm (3 feet). Cats without a tail also have this ability, since a cat mostly moves its hind legs and relies on conservation of angular momentum to set up for landing, and the tail is in fact little used for this feat.[132] This leads to the proverb "a cat always lands on its feet."

Eating a house sparrow One poorly understood element of cat hunting behavior is the presentation of prey to human owners. Ethologist Paul Leyhausen proposed that cats adopt humans into their social group, and share excess kill with others in the group according to the local pecking order, in which humans are placed at or near the top.[133] Anthropologist and animal scientist Desmond Morris, in his 1986 book Catwatching, suggests that when cats bring home mice or birds, they are teaching their human to hunt, or helping their human as if feeding "an elderly cat, or an inept kitten".[134] Morris's theory is inconsistent with the fact that male cats also bring home prey, despite males having no involvement with raising kittens.[129] Domestic cats select food based on its temperature, smell and texture, strongly disliking chilled foods and responding most strongly to moist foods rich in amino acids, which are similar to meat.[72][115] Cats may reject novel flavors (a response termed neophobia) and learn quickly to avoid foods that have tasted unpleasant in the past.[115] They may also avoid sugary foods and milk; since they are lactose intolerant, these sugars are not easily digested and may cause soft stools or diarrhea.[115][135] They can also develop odd eating habits. Some cats like to eat or chew on other things, most commonly wool, but also plastic, paper, string, aluminum foil/Christmas tree tinsel, or even coal. This condition is called pica and can threaten their health, depending on the amount and toxicity of the items eaten.[136][137]

Since cats cannot fully close their mouths to create suction, they use a lapping method with the tongue to draw liquid upwards into their mouths. Lapping at a rate of four times a second, the cat touches the smooth tip of its tongue to the surface of the water, and quickly retracts it, drawing water upwards.[138]

Main article: Cat play and toys Domestic cats, especially young kittens, are known for their love of play. This behavior mimics hunting and is important in helping kittens learn to stalk, capture, and kill prey.[139] Cats will also engage in play fighting, with each other and with humans. This behavior may be a way for cats to practice the skills needed for real combat, and might also reduce any fear they associate with launching attacks on other animals.[140] Owing to the close similarity between play and hunting, cats prefer to play with objects that resemble prey, such as small furry toys that move rapidly, but rapidly lose interest (they become habituated) in a toy they have played with before.[141] Cats also tend to play with toys more when they are hungry.[142] String is often used as a toy, but if it is eaten it can become caught at the base of the cats tongue and then move into the intestines, a medical emergency which can cause serious illness and death.[143] Owing to the risks posed by cats eating string, it is sometimes replaced with a laser pointer's dot, which cats may chase.[144] While concerns have been raised about the safety of these lasers, Professor John Marshall, an ophthalmologist at St Thomas' Hospital, has stated that it would be "virtually impossible" to blind a cat with a laser pointer.[145]


A kitten with newly opened eyes

When cats mate, the tomcat (male) bites the scruff of the female's neck as she assumes a position conducive to mating known as lordosis behavior.

Eight-week old kittens Female cats are seasonally polyestrous, which means they may have many periods of heat over the course of a year, the season beginning in spring and ending in late autumn. Heat periods occur about every two weeks and last about 4 to 7 days.[146] Multiple males will be attracted to a female in heat. The males will fight over her, and the victor wins the right to mate. At first, the female will reject the male, but eventually the female will allow the male to mate. The female will utter a loud yowl as the male pulls out of her. This is because a male cat's penis has a band of about 120150 backwards-pointing spines, which are about one millimeter long;[147] upon withdrawal of the penis, the spines rake the walls of the female's vagina, which is a trigger for ovulation. This act also occurs to clear the vagina of other sperm in the context of a 2nd (or more) mating, thus giving the latter males a larger chance of conception. After mating, the female will wash her vulva thoroughly. If a male attempts to mate with her at this point, the female will attack him. After about 20 to 30 minutes, once the female is finished grooming, the cycle will repeat.[146] Because ovulation is not always triggered by a single mating, females may not be impregnated by the first male with which they mate.[148] Furthermore, cats are superfecund; that is, a female may mate with more than one male when she is in heat, with the result that different kittens in a litter may have different fathers.[146] The gestation period for cats is between 6467 days, with an average length of 66 days.[149] The size of a litter averages three to five kittens, with the first litter usually smaller than subsequent litters. Kittens are weaned at between six and seven weeks, and cats normally reach sexual maturity at 510 months (females) and to 57 months (males), although this can vary depending on breed.[146] Females can have two to three litters per year, so may produce up to 150 kittens in their breeding span of around ten years.[146] Cats are ready to go to new homes at about 12 weeks old,[150] or when they are ready to leave their mother. Cats can be surgically sterilized (spayed or castrated) as early as 7 weeks to limit unwanted reproduction.[151] This surgery also prevents undesirable sex-related behavior, such as aggression, territory marking (spraying urine) in males and yowling (calling) in females. Traditionally, this surgery was performed at around

six to nine months of age, but it is increasingly being performed prior to puberty, at about three to six months.[152] In the USA approximately 80% of household cats are neutered.[153]

Cats are a cosmopolitan species and are found across much of the world.[28] They are extremely adaptable and are now present on all continents except Antarctica, and on 118 of the 131 main groups of islands even on sub-Antarctic islands such as the Kerguelen Islands.[154][155] Feral cats can live in forests, grasslands, tundra, coastal areas, agricultural land, scrublands, urban areas and wetlands.[156] Their habitats even include small oceanic islands with no human inhabitants.[157] This ability to thrive in almost any terrestrial habitat has led to the cat's designation as one of the world's worst invasive species.[158] Despite this general adaptability, the close relatives of domestic cats, the African Wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica) and the Arabian Sand Cat (Felis margarita) both inhabit desert environments,[4] and domestic cats still show similar adaptations and behaviors.[26]

Impact on prey species

Young feral cat eating a cottontail rabbit. To date, there are few scientific data available to assess the impact of cat predation on prey populations. Even well-fed domestic cats may hunt and kill, mainly catching small mammals, but also birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish and invertebrates.[128][159] Hunting by domestic cats may be contributing to the decline in the numbers of birds in urban areas, although the importance of this effect remains controversial.[160] In the wild, the introduction of feral cats during human settlement can threaten native species with extinction.[157] In many cases controlling or eliminating the populations of non-native cats can produce a rapid recovery in native animals.[161] However, the ecological role of introduced cats can be more complicated: for example, cats can control the numbers of rats, which also prey on birds' eggs and young, so in some cases eliminating a cat population can actually accelerate the decline of an endangered bird species in the presence of a mesopredator, controlled by cats.[162] In the Southern Hemisphere, cats are a particular problem in landmasses such as Australasia, where cat species have never been native and there were few equivalent

native medium-sized mammalian predators.[163] Native species such as the New Zealand Kakapo and the Australian Bettong, for example, tend to be more ecologically vulnerable and behaviorally "naive" to predation by feral cats.[164] Feral cats have had a major impact on these native species and have played a leading role in the endangerment and extinction of many animals.[165] Cat numbers in the UK are growing annually and their abundance is far above the natural carrying capacity, because their population sizes are independent of their preys dynamics: i.e. cats are recreational hunters.[166] Population densities can be as high as 2000 individuals per km2[167] and the current trend is an increase of 0.5 million cats annually.

Impact on birds
The domestic cat is probably a significant predator of birds. Current UK assessments indicate that they may be accountable for an estimated 64.8 million bird deaths each year.[128] Certain species appear more susceptible than others; for example, 30% of house sparrow mortality is linked to the domestic cat.[168] In the recovery of ringed robins and dunnocks, it was also concluded that 31% of deaths were a result of cat predation.[169] The presence of larger carnivores such as coyotes which prey on cats and other small predators reduces the effect of predation by cats and other small predators such as opossums and raccoons on bird numbers and variety.[170] The proposal that cat populations will increase when the numbers of these top predators decline is called the mesopredator release hypothesis. On islands, birds can contribute as much as 60% of a cats diet.[171] In nearly all cases, however, the cat cannot be identified as the sole cause for reducing the numbers of island birds, and in some instances eradication of cats has caused a mesopredator release effect;[172] where the suppression of top carnivores creates an abundance of smaller predators that cause a severe decline in their shared prey. Domestic cats are, however, known to be a contributing factor to the decline of many species; a factor that has ultimately led, in some cases, to extinction. The South Island Piopio, Chatham Islands Rail,[169] the Auckland Islands Merganser,[173] and the common diving petrel[174] are a few from a long list, with the most extreme case being the flightless Stephens Island Wren, which was driven to extinction only a few years after its discovery.[175][176] Some of the same factors that have promoted adaptive radiation of island avifauna over evolutionary time appear to promote vulnerability to non-native species in modern time. The susceptibility inherent of many island birds is undoubtedly due to evolution in the absence of mainland predators, competitors, diseases and parasites. In addition to lower reproductive rates and extended incubation periods.[177] The loss of flight, or reduced flying ability is also characteristic of many island endemics.[178] These biological aspects have increased vulnerability to extinction in the presence of introduced species, such as the domestic cat.[179] Equally, behavioural traits exhibited by island species, such as predatory naivety[180] and ground-nesting,[177] have also contributed to their susceptibility.

Cats and humans

Cats eating Cats are a common companion animal in Europe and North America, and their worldwide population exceeds 500 million.[10] In 1998 there were around 43 million cats in Western Europe, 33 million in Eastern Europe, seven million in Japan and three million in Australia.[181] A 2007 report stated that about 37 million US households owned cats, with an average of 2.2 cats per household giving a total population of around 82 million.[182] In contrast, there are about 72 million pet dogs in that country.[182] Although cat ownership has commonly been associated with women,[183] a 2007 Gallup poll reported that men and women were equally likely to own a cat.[184] The ratio of pedigree/purebred cats to random-bred cats varies from country to country. However, generally speaking, purebreds are less than 10% of the total population.[185] According to the Humane Society of the United States, as well as being kept as pets, cats are also used in the international fur trade.[186] Cat fur is used in coats, gloves, hats, shoes, blankets and stuffed toys. About 24 cats are needed to make a cat fur coat.[187] This use has now been outlawed in several countries, including the United States, Australia and the European Union.[188] However, some cat furs are still made into blankets in Switzerland as folk remedies that are believed to help rheumatism.[189] It has long been common for cats to be eaten in some parts of China and in some other Asian countries and it is estimated that in southern China's Guangdong province people eat 10,000 cats a day.[190] Animal People estimates that 4 million cats are killed and consumed in Asia every year.[191]

Domesticated varieties
Main article: Cat breed

A purebred chocolate Persian The concept of a cat breed appeared in Britain during the late 19th century.[192] The current list of cat breeds is quite large: with the Cat Fanciers' Association recognizing 41 breeds, of which 16 are "natural breeds" that probably emerged before humans began breeding pedigree cats, while the others were developed over the latter half of the 20th century.[28] The owners and breeders of show cats compete to see whose animal bears the closest resemblance to the "ideal" definition and standard of the breed (see selective breeding). Because of common crossbreeding in populated areas, many cats are simply identified as belonging to the homogeneous breeds of domestic longhair and domestic shorthair, depending on their type of fur. In the United Kingdom and Australasia, non-purebred cats are referred in slang as moggies (derived from "Maggie", short for Margaret, reputed to have been a common name for cows and calves in 18th century England and latter applied to housecats during the Victorian era).[193] In the United States, a non-purebred cat is sometimes referred to in slang as a barn or alley cat, even if it is not a stray. Cats come in a variety of colors and patterns. These are physical properties and should not be confused with a breed of cat. Furthermore, cats may show the color and/or pattern particular to a certain breed without actually being of that breed. For example, cats may have seal point coloration, but not be Siamese. Some original cat breeds that have a distinct phenotype that is the main type occurring naturally as the dominant domesticated cat type in their region of origin are sometimes considered as subspecies and also have received names as such in nomenclature, although this is not supported by feline biologists. Some of these cat breeds are:

F. catus anura the Manx The Manx is a stocky, solid cat with a dense double coat (long or short), a compact body, very short back, hind legs that are visibly longer than the front legs, big bones, a wide chest, and greater depth of flank (sides of the cat nearest the rear) than other cats.[194] A female Manx would not weigh more than 10 pounds (4.5 kg) and a male does not weigh

over 12 pounds (5.4 kg). Specific to this breed is the way their ears appear as a "cradle" when looked at from behind. A Manx cat is mainly recognized by its appearance as it does not have a tail. Although some of them may have a small tail, most Manx cats are tailless. Because of the genetic deformation of these cats they are susceptible of developing what is called Manx Syndrome, a condition that could be fatal for a kitten. Although the gene normally affects only the tail, there is the risk of causing damage to the spine such as fused vertebrae. F. catus siamensis the Siamese Siamese cats are amongst the firstly recognized Oriental cats, a type of cat with a long body but an elegant posture. The length is the main characteristic based on which these cats are distinguished. Their body, legs and tail are all long and still Siamese cats are known for their grace. Also, they are famous because of their blue almond eyes and they are also called "people cats" because of the affection they show to their owners.[195] F. catus cartusenensis the Chartreux The Chartreux is a natural French breed, which is easily recognized by its size, grayish color and double coat. These cats are also famous because of the paradox coming from the combination between a massively build body and smiling expression and sweet voice. F. catus angorensis the Turkish Angora

Coat patterns Cat coat genetics can produce a variety of coat patterns. Some of the most common are:

Blue (grey) and white bicolor cat Bicolor, Tuxedo and Van This pattern varies between the tuxedo cat which is mostly black with a white chest, and possibly markings on the face and paws/legs, all the way to the Van pattern (so named after the Lake Van area in Turkey, which gave rise to the Turkish Van breed), where the only colored parts of the cat are the tail (usually including the base of the tail proper), and the top of the head (often including the ears). There are several other terms for amounts of white between these two extremes, such as Harlequin or jellicle cat. Bicolor cats can have as their primary (non-white) color black, red, any dilution thereof, and tortoiseshell (see below for definition).

Mackerel tabby, showing the characteristic "M" on its forehead. Tabby Striped, with a variety of patterns. The classic blotched tabby (or marbled) pattern is the most common and consists of butterflies and bullseyes. The mackerel or striped tabby is a series of vertical stripes down the cat's side (resembling the fish). This pattern broken into spots is referred to as a spotted tabby. Finally, the tabby markings may look like a series of ticks on the fur, thus the ticked tabby, which is almost exclusively associated with the Abyssinian breed of cats. The worldwide evolution of the cat means that certain types of tabby are associated with certain countries; for instance, blotched tabbies are quite rare outside NW Europe, where they are the most common type.

Female tortoiseshell-and-white cat. Tortoiseshell and calico This cat is also known as a calimanco cat or clouded tiger cat, and by the abbreviation 'tortie'. In the cat fancy, a tortoiseshell cat is patched over with red (or its dilute form, cream) and black (or its dilute blue) mottled throughout the coat. Additionally, the cat may have white spots in its fur, which make it a 'tortoiseshell and white' cat; if there is a significant amount of white in the fur and the red and black colors form a patchwork rather than a mottled aspect, in North America the cat will be called a calico. All calicos are tortoiseshell (as they carry both black and red), but not all tortoiseshells are calicos (which requires a significant amount of white in the fur and patching rather than mottling of the colors). The calico is also sometimes called a tricolor cat. The Japanese refer to this pattern as mi-ke (meaning "triple fur"), while the Dutch call these cats lapjeskat (meaning "patches cat"). A true tricolor must consist of three colors: a reddish color, dark or light; white; and one other color, typically a brown, black, or blue.[196] Both tortoiseshell and calico cats are

typically female because the coat pattern is the result of differential X chromosome inactivation in females (which, as with all normal female mammals, have two X chromosomes). Conversely, cats where the overall color is ginger (orange) are commonly male (roughly in a 3:1 ratio). In a litter sired by a ginger tom, the females will be tortoiseshell or ginger. Male tortoiseshells can occur as a result of chromosomal abnormalities (often linked to sterility) or by a phenomenon known as mosaicism, where two early stage embryos are merged into a single kitten.

Siamese cat, classical colorpoint pattern. Colorpoint The colorpoint pattern is most commonly associated with Siamese cats, but may also appear in any domesticated cat. A colorpointed cat has dark colors on the face, ears, feet, and tail, with a lighter version of the same color on the rest of the body, and possibly some white. The exact name of the colorpoint pattern depends on the actual color, so there are seal points (dark brown), chocolate points (warm lighter brown), blue points (dark gray), lilac or frost points (silvery gray-pink), red or flame points (orange), and tortie (tortoiseshell mottling) points, among others. This pattern is the result of a temperature sensitive mutation in one of the enzymes in the metabolic pathway from tyrosine to pigment, such as melanin; thus, little or no pigment is produced except in the extremities or points where the skin is slightly cooler. For this reason, colorpointed cats tend to darken with age as bodily temperature drops; also, the fur over a significant injury may sometimes darken or lighten as a result of temperature change. The tyrosine pathway also produces neurotransmitters, thus mutations in the early parts of that pathway may affect not only pigment, but also neurological development. This results in a higher frequency of cross-eyes among colorpointed cats, as well as the high frequency of cross-eyes in white tigers. White cats

White cat True albinism (a mutation of the tyrosinase gene) is quite rare in cats. Much more common is the appearance of white coat color that is caused by a lack of melanocytes in the skin. A higher frequency of deafness in white cats is due to a reduction in the population and survival of melanoblast stem cells, which in addition to creating pigment-producing cells, develop into a variety of neurological cell types. White cats with one or two blue eyes have a particularly high likelihood of being deaf. Smoke cats The bottom eighth of each hair is white or creamy-white, with the rest of the hair being a solid color. Genetically this color is a non-agouti cat with the dominant inhibitor gene; a non-agouti version of the silver tabby. Smoke cats will look solid colored until they move, when the white undercoat becomes apparent. It is mostly found in pedigreed cats (especially longhair breeds) but also present in some domestic longhaired cats. Body types Cats can also come in several body types, ranging between two extremes: Oriental Not a specific breed, but any cat with an elongated slender build, almondshaped eyes, long nose, large ears (the Siamese and Oriental Shorthair breeds are examples of this). Foreign Less slender than the oriental type, but nevertheless a cat with a slight build and generally athletic look. Typical example breeds would be the Abyssinian cat and the Turkish Angora. Some people consider the foreign and oriental body types as being the same, however. Semi-Foreign More or less the middle range of body conformation types, this type of cat is less slender without being stocky. Example breeds would be the Devon Rex and the Egyptian Mau. Semi-Cobby These cats look more rounded without looking too stocky. Example breeds would be the American Shorthair and British Shorthair. Cobby Any cat with a short, muscular, compact build, roundish eyes, short nose, and small ears. Persian cats and Exotic cats are two prime examples of such a body type.

Effects on human health

Because of their small size, domesticated house cats pose little physical danger to adult humans. However, in the USA cats inflict about 400,000 bites per year, with 90% of these bites coming from provoked animals; this number represents about one in ten of all animal bites.[197] Many cat bites will become infected,[198] sometimes with serious consequences such as cat-scratch disease, or, more rarely, rabies.[197] Cats may also pose a danger to pregnant women and immunosuppressed individuals, since their feces can transmit toxoplasmosis.[199] A large percentage of cats are infected with this parasite, with infection rates ranging from around 40 to 60% in both domestic and stray cats worldwide.[200][201][202] Allergic reactions to cat dander and/or cat saliva are common.[203] Some humans who are allergic to catstypically manifested by hay fever, asthma, or a skin rash quickly acclimate themselves to a particular animal and live comfortably in the same house with it, while retaining an allergy to cats in general.[204] Whether the risk of developing allergic diseases such as asthma is increased or decreased by cat ownership is uncertain.[205][206] Some owners cope with this problem by taking allergy medicine, along with bathing their cats frequently, since weekly bathing will reduce the amount of dander shed by a cat.[207] There have also been attempts to breed hypoallergenic cats, which would be less likely to provoke an allergic reaction.[208] As well as posing health risks, interactions with cats may improve health and reduce physical responses to stress: for example the presence of cats may moderate increased blood pressure.[209] Cat ownership may also improve psychological health by providing emotional support and dispelling feelings of depression, anxiety and loneliness.[210] Their ability to provide companionship and friendship are common reasons given for owning a cat.[184] From another point of view, cats are thought to be able to improve the general mood of their owners by alleviating negative attitudes. According to a Swiss study carried out in 2003, cats may change the overall psychological state of their owner as their company's effect appears to be comparable to that of a human partner.[211] The researchers concluded that, while cats were not shown to promote positive moods, they do alleviate negative ones. One study found that cat ownership is associated with a reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes at the 95% confidence interval. [212] Several studies have shown that cats develop affection towards their owners. However, the effect of these pets on human health is closely related to the time and effort the cat owner is able to invest in it, in terms of bonding and playing.[213]

Indoor scratching
A natural behavior in cats is to periodically hook their front claws into suitable surfaces and pull backwards. This marks their territory and exercises their legs, in addition to cleaning and sharpening their claws.[214] Indoor cats benefit from being provided with a scratching post so that they are less likely to use carpet or furniture which they can easily ruin.[215] Commercial scratching posts typically are covered in

carpeting or upholstery, but some authorities[who?] advise against this practice, as not making it clear to the cat which surfaces are permissible and which are not; they suggest using a plain wooden surface, or reversing the carpeting on the posts so that the rougher texture of the carpet backing is a more attractive alternative to the cat than the floor covering. Scratching posts made of sisal rope or corrugated cardboard are also common.

Close-up of a cat's claw, with the quick clearly visible. Although scratching can serve cats to keep their claws from growing excessively long, their nails can be trimmed if necessary. Another response to indoor scratching is onychectomy, commonly known as declawing. This is a surgical procedure to remove the claw and first bone of each digit of a cat's paws. Declawing is most commonly only performed on the front feet. A related procedure is tendonectomy, which involves cutting a tendon needed for cats to extend their claws.[216] Declawing is a major surgical procedure and can produce pain, infections and permanent lameness.[216] Since this surgery is almost always performed for the benefit of owners, it is controversial and remains uncommon outside of North America.[217] In many countries, declawing is prohibited by animal welfare laws and it is ethically controversial within the veterinary community.[218] While both the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals strongly discourage or condemn the procedure,[219] the American Veterinary Medical Association supports the procedure under certain guidelines and finds "no scientific evidence that declawing leads to behavioral abnormalities when the behavior of declawed cats is compared with that of cats in control groups."[220] They further argue that many cats would be given up and euthanized were declawing not performed.[217] Nevertheless, many veterinarians refuse to perform the procedure.


Toilet-trained house cat. Cats bury their urine and feces. Indoor cats are usually provided with a box containing litter, typically bentonite, but sometimes other absorbent material such as shredded paper or wood chips, or sometimes sand or similar material. It should be cleaned daily and changed often, depending on the number of cats in a household and the type of litter; if it is not kept clean, a cat may be fastidious enough to find other locations in the house for urination or defecation. This may also happen for other reasons; for instance, if a cat becomes constipated and defecation is uncomfortable, it may associate the discomfort with the litter box and avoid it in favor of another location. Daily attention to the litter box also serves as a monitor of the cat's health. Bentonite or clumping litter is a variation which absorbs urine into clumps which can be sifted out along with feces, and thus stays cleaner longer with regular sifting, but has sometimes been reported to cause health problems in some cats.[221] Some cats can be trained to use the human toilet, eliminating the litter box and its attendant expense, unpleasant odor, and the need to use landfill space for disposal. Training may involve four to six weeks of incremental moves, such as moving and elevating the litter box until it is near the toilet, as well as employing an adapter such as a bowl or small box to suspend the litter above the toilet bowl.[222] When training is complete, the cat uses the toilet by squatting on the toilet seat over the bowl.

Feral cats
Main article: Feral cat

American feral farm cat.

Feral cats are wild cats that are unfamiliar with humans and roam freely in urban or rural areas.[9] The numbers of feral cats are not known, but estimates of the US feral population range from 25 to 60 million.[9] Feral cats may live alone, but most are found in large groups called feral colonies, which occupy a specific territory and are usually associated with a source of food.[223] Famous feral cat colonies are found in Rome around the Colosseum and Forum Romanum, with cats at some of these sites being fed and vetted by volunteers.[224] Public attitudes towards feral cats vary widely: ranging from seeing them as freeranging pets, to regarding them as vermin.[225] One common approach to reducing the feral cat population is termed trap-neuter-return, where the cats are trapped, neutered, immunized against rabies and the feline leukemia virus, and then released. Before releasing them back into their feral colonies, the attending veterinarian often nips the tip off one ear to mark the feral as neutered and inoculated, since these cats may be trapped again. Volunteers continue to feed and give care to these cats throughout their lives. Given this support, their lifespan is increased, and behavior and nuisance problems caused by competition for food are reduced.[223]

History and mythology

Main articles: Cultural depictions of cats and Cats in ancient Egypt

Egyptian sculpture at the Louvre. Traditionally, historians tended to think that ancient Egypt was the site of cat domestication, owing to the clear depictions of house cats in Egyptian paintings about 3,600 years old.[4] However, in 2004, a Neolithic grave was excavated in Shillourokambos, Cyprus, that contained the skeletons, laid close to one another, of both a human and a cat. The grave is estimated to be 9,500 years old, pushing back the earliest known feline-human association significantly.[6][226][227] The cat specimen is large and closely resembles the African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica), rather than present-day domestic cats. This discovery, combined with genetic studies, suggest

that cats were probably domesticated in the Near East, in the Fertile Crescent around the time of the development of agriculture and then they were brought to Cyprus and Egypt.[4] In ancient Egypt cats were sacred animals, with Bast often depicted in cat form, sometimes taking on the warlike aspect of a lioness.[228] The Romans are often credited with introducing the domestic cat from Egypt to Europe;[229] in Roman Aquitaine, a 1st or 2nd century epitaph of a young girl holding a cat is one of two earliest depictions of the Roman domesticated cat.[230] However, it is possible that cats were already kept in Europe prior to the Roman Empire, as they may have already been present in Britain in the late Iron Age.[31] Domestic cats were spread throughout much of the rest of the world during the Age of Discovery, as they were carried on sailing ships to control shipboard rodents and as good-luck charms.[229]

Freyja and her cats Several ancient religions believed that cats are exalted souls, companions or guides for humans, that they are all-knowing but are mute so they cannot influence decisions made by humans. In Japan, the Maneki Neko is a cat that is a symbol of good fortune. Although there are no sacred species in Islam, some writers have stated that Muhammad had a favorite cat, Muezza.[231] He is reported to have loved cats so much that "he would do without his cloak rather than disturb one that was sleeping on it".[232] Freyjathe goddess of love, beauty, and fertility in Norse mythologyis depicted as riding a chariot drawn by cats. Many cultures have negative superstitions about cats. An example would be the belief that a black cat "crossing your path" leads to bad luck, or that cats are witches' familiars used to augment a witch's powers and skills. This led to the widespread extermination of cats in Europe in medieval times. The Black Plague was spread by fleas carried by infected rats, and the killing of cats ostensibly caused an increase in the rat population. The killing of cats in Medieval Ypres is commemorated in the innocuous present-day Kattenstoet (cat parade). According to a myth in many cultures, cats have multiple lives. In many countries, they are believed to have nine lives, but in some Spanish-speaking regions they are

said to have seven lives,[233] while in Turkish and Arabic traditions the number of lives is six.[234] The myth is attributed to the natural suppleness and swiftness cats exhibit to escape life-threatening situations.[235] Also lending credence to this myth is the fact that falling cats often land on their feet, using an instinctive righting reflex to twist their bodies around. Nonetheless, cats can still be injured or killed by a high fall.[236]

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search For other uses, see Felidae (disambiguation). Felids[1]
Temporal range: 250 Ma Pre O S D C P T J K

Late Oligocene to Recent

Tiger (Panthera tigris)

Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Mammalia Order: Carnivora Suborder: Feliformia Felidae Family: G. Fischer de Waldheim,

Subfamilies Felinae

Pantherinae Machairodontinae Proailurinae[2]

Felidae ranges

Felidae is the biological family of the cats; a member of this family is called a felid. Felids are the strictest carnivores of the thirteen terrestrial families in the order Carnivora, although the three families of marine mammals comprising the superfamily pinnipedia are as carnivorous as the felids. The most familiar felid is the domestic cat, which first became associated with humans about 10,000 years ago, but the family includes all other wild cats including the big cats. Extant felids belong to one of two subfamilies: Pantherinae (which includes the tiger, the lion, the jaguar, and the leopard), and Felinae (which includes the cougar, the cheetah, the lynxes, the ocelot, and the domestic cat). The first felids emerged during the Oligocene, about 25 million years ago. In prehistoric times, there was a third subfamily known as Machairodontinae, which included the "saber-toothed cats" such as the well known Smilodon. There were also other superficially cat-like mammals, such as the marsupial sabertooth Thylacosmilus or the Nimravidae, which are not included in Felidae despite superficial similarities.


1 Evolution 2 Characteristics o 2.1 Physical appearance o 2.2 Senses o 2.3 Dentition o 2.4 Vocalisations 3 Classification o 3.1 Genetic classification o 3.2 Extant species 4 Fossil felids 5 Genera of the Felidae 6 See also 7 Cited references 8 General references 9 External links

[edit] Evolution
There are 41 known species of felids in the world today, which have all descended from the same ancestor.[1] This taxon originated in Asia and spread across continents by crossing land bridges. As reported in the journal Science, testing of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA by Warren Johnson and Stephen O'Brien of the U.S. National Cancer Institute demonstrated that ancient cats evolved into eight main lineages that diverged in the course of at least 10 migrations (in both directions) from continent to continent via the Bering land bridge and Isthmus of Panama, with the Panthera genus being the oldest and the Felis genus being the youngest. They estimated that 60 percent of the modern species of cats developed within the last million years.[3] Most felids have a haploid number of 18 or 19. New World cats (those in Central and South America) have a haploid number of 18, possibly due to the combination of two smaller chromosomes into one larger chromosome.[4] Prior to this discovery, biologists had been largely unable to establish a family tree of cats from the fossil record because the fossils of different cat species all look very much alike, differing primarily in size. The felids' closest relatives are thought to be the linsangs[5], and at one remove the group of civets, hyenas, mongooses, and Madagascar carnivores[6], with whom they share the Suborder Feliformia. All felid species share a genetic anomaly that prevents them from tasting sweetness.[7]

[edit] Characteristics
Felids are purely carnivorous animals, subsisting almost entirely on other vertebrates[citation needed]. Aside from the lion, wild felids are generally solitary; feral domestic cats do, however, form feral cat colonies. Cheetahs are also known to live and hunt in groups. Felids are generally secretive animals, are often nocturnal, and live in relatively inaccessible habitats. Around three-quarters of cat species live in forested terrain, and they are generally agile climbers. However, felids may be found in almost any environment, with some species being native to mountainous terrain or deserts. Wild felids are native to every continent except Australasia and Antarctica.

[edit] Physical appearance

Skull of the machairodontine Smilodon (Reconstruction)

Lion skull Felids tend to have lithe and flexible bodies with muscular limbs. In the great majority of species, the tail is between a third and a half the length of the body, although there are some exceptions (for example, the bobcat and margay). The limbs are digitigrade with soft toe pads and retractable claws. Compared with most other mammals, the head of cats is highly domed with a short muzzle. The skull possesses wide zygomatic arches and a large sagittal crest, both of which allow for the attachment of strong jaw muscles.[8] The various species of felids vary greatly in size. One of the smallest is the Blackfooted Cat, measuring 35 to 40 centimetres (14 to 16 in) long, while the largest in the wild is the tiger, which can attain up to 350 centimetres (11.5 ft) in length[9] and weigh 300 kilograms (660 lb). The fur of felids takes many different forms, being much thicker in those species that live in cold environments, such as the Snow Leopard. The color of felids is also highly variablealthough brown to golden fur is common in most speciesusually marked with distinctive spots, stripes, or rosettes. The only felids to lack significant markings are the lion, puma, caracal and jaguarundi. Many species exhibit melanism, in which some individuals have an all-black coat.[8] All felids have a "tear stripe", a black stripe running from the corner of each eye down the side of the muzzle.[10] The tongue of felids is covered with horny papillae, which help to rasp meat from their prey. All felids have retractable claws, although in a few species, such as the cheetah, the claws remain visible even when retracted. The claws are retracted when the animal is relaxed. They are attached to the terminal bone of the toe with a tough ligament; when the animal contracts muscles in the toe to straighten it, the ligament forces the claw outwards.[8] Cats have five toes on their forefeet and four on their hindfeet, reflecting their reliance on gripping and holding down their prey with their claws.[citation needed]

[edit] Senses
Felids have relatively large eyes, situated to provide binocular vision. Their night vision is especially good, due to the presence of a tapetum lucidum, which reflects light back inside the eyeball, and gives felid eyes their distinctive shine. As a result,

the eyes of felids are approximately six times more light sensitive than those of humans, and many species are at least partially nocturnal. The retina of felids also contains a relatively high proportion of rod cells, adapted for seeing in conditions of dim light, but they also possess cone cells for sensing color during the day. However, felids appear to have relatively poor color vision in comparison with humans.[8] The external ears of felids are also large, and especially sensitive to high-frequency sounds in the smaller cats. This sensitivity allows them to locate small rodent prey; cats themselves do not apparently produce such sounds.[8] Felids also have a highly developed sense of smell, although not to the degree seen in canids; this is further supplemented by the presence of a vomeronasal organ in the roof of the mouth, allowing the animal to "taste" the air. The use of this organ is associated with the Flehmen response, in which the upper lip is curled upwards. Felids possess highly sensitive whiskers set deep within the skin, which provide the cat with sensory information about the slightest air movement around it. For this reason, whiskers are very helpful to nocturnal hunters. Most felids are able to land on their feet after a fall, an ability which relies on vision and the sense of balance acting together.

[edit] Dentition
Felids have a relatively small number of teeth compared with other carnivorans, a feature associated with their short muzzles. With a few exceptions, such as the lynx, they have the dental formula: . The canine teeth are large, reaching exceptional size in the extinct saber-tooth species. The upper third premolar and lower molar are adapted as carnassial teeth, suited to tearing and cutting flesh.[8] The jaws of felids can only move vertically. This prevents them from being able to chew, but makes it easier for their powerful masseter jaw muscles to hold struggling prey.

[edit] Vocalisations
All felids share a broadly similar set of vocalisations, although there is some variation between species. In particular, the pitch of calls varies, with larger species producing deeper sounds; overall, the frequency of felid calls ranges between 5010,000 hertz. All felids are able to spit, hiss, growl, snarl, and mew. The first four of these sounds are all used in an aggressive context. The spitting sound is a sudden burst, typically used when making threats, especially towards other species (such as humans). The hiss is a prolonged, atonal sound used in close range to other members of the species, when the animal is uncertain whether to attack or retreat. Growling is used to indicate a willingness to attack, while the higher pitched snarl is used when adopting a defensive posture.

The mewing sound may be used either as a close-contact call, typically between a mother and kittens, or as a louder, longer distance call, primarily during the mating season. There is some variation in the acoustic properties of the mew between different felid species; extreme examples include the whistling sound made by cougars and the mew-grunt of lions and tigers. Most felids seem to be able to purr, vibrating the muscles in their larynx to produce a distinctive buzzing sound. In the wild, purring is used while a mother is caring for kittens. Precisely which species of felid are able to purr is a matter of debate, but the sound has been recorded in most of the smaller species, as well as the cheetah and cougar, and may also be found in the big cats. Other common felid vocalisations include the gurgle, wah-wah, prusten, and roar. The first two sounds are found only among the Felinae (small cats). Gurgling is a quiet sound used during meetings between friendly individuals, as well as during courtship and when nursing kittens. The wah-wah is a short, deep-sounding call used in close contact, and is not found in all species (it is, for example, absent in the domestic cat). In contrast, prusten and roaring are found only in big cats. Prusten is a short, soft, snorting sound reported in tigers, jaguars, snow leopards, and clouded leopards; it is used during contact between friendly individuals. The roar is an especially loud call with a distinctive pattern that depends on the species. Tigers and jaguars have a very snarly roar, while the roar of leopards and lions is much more throaty.[citation needed] Only lions, leopards, tigers and jaguars are truly able to roar, although the loudest mews of snow leopards have a similar, if less structured, sound.[8]

[edit] Classification
Traditionally, five subfamilies have been distinguished within family Felidae based on phenotypical features: the Felinae; the Pantherinae; the Acinonychinae (Cheetahs); the extinct Machairodontinae; and the extinct Proailurinae.[2]

[edit] Genetic classification

Genetic research has provided a basis for a more concise classification for the living members of the cat family based on genotypical groupings.[1][11][12] Specifically, eight genetic lineages have been identified:[13]

Lineage 1: Panthera, Uncia, Neofelis Lineage 2: Pardofelis, Catopuma Lineage 3: Leptailurus, Caracal, Profelis Lineage 4: Leopardus Lineage 5: Lynx Lineage 6: Puma, Acinonyx Lineage 7: Prionailurus, Otocolobus Lineage 8: Felis

The last four lineages (5, 6, 7, 8) are more related to each other than to any of the first four (1, 2, 3, 4), and so form a clade within the Felinae subfamily of family Felidae.

[edit] Extant species




Eurasian Lynx


Wildcat The following is the complete list of genera within family Felidae grouped according to the traditional phenotypical classification with the corresponding genotypical lineages indicated:

FAMILY FELIDAE[1] o Subfamily Felinae Genus Felis [Lineage 8] Chinese Mountain Cat (Felis bieti) Domestic Cat (Felis catus) Jungle Cat (Felis chaus) Sand Cat (Felis margarita) Black-footed Cat (Felis nigripes) Wildcat (Felis silvestris) Genus Otocolobus [Lineage 7] Pallas's Cat (Otocolobus manul) Genus Prionailurus [Lineage 7] Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) Iriomote Cat (Prionailurus iriomotensis) Flat-headed Cat (Prionailurus planiceps) Rusty-spotted Cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) [14] Genus Acinonyx [Lineage 6] Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) Genus Puma [Lineage 6] Cougar (Puma concolor) Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi) Genus Lynx [Lineage 5] Canadian Lynx (Lynx canadensis)

Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx) Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus) Bobcat (Lynx rufus) Genus Leopardus [Lineage 4] Pantanal Cat (Leopardus braccatus) Colocolo (Leopardus colocolo) Geoffroy's Cat (Leopardus geoffroyi) Kodkod (Leopardus guigna) Andean Mountain Cat (Leopardus jacobitus) Pampas Cat (Leopardus pajeros) Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus) Margay (Leopardus wiedii) Genus Leptailurus [Lineage 3] Serval (Leptailurus serval) Genus Caracal [Lineage 3] Caracal (Caracal caracal) Genus Profelis [Lineage 3] African Golden Cat (Profelis aurata) Genus Catopuma [Lineage 2] Bay Cat (Catopuma badia) Asian Golden Cat (Catopuma temminckii) Genus Pardofelis [Lineage 2] Marbled Cat (Pardofelis marmorata) Subfamily Pantherinae Genus Neofelis [Lineage 1] Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi) Genus Panthera [Lineage 1] Lion (Panthera leo) Jaguar (Panthera onca) Leopard (Panthera pardus) Tiger (Panthera tigris) Genus Uncia [Lineage 1] Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia)

[edit] Fossil felids

The American Lion was one of the abundant Pleistocene megafauna, a wide variety of very large mammals who went extinct about 10,000 years ago.[15]

The probably oldest known true felid (Proailurus) lived in the late Oligocene and early Miocene epochs. During the Miocene it gave way to Pseudaelurus. Pseudaelurus is believed to be the latest common ancestor of the two extant subfamilies and the extinct subfamily, Machairodontinae. This group, better known as the saber-tooth cats, became extinct in the Late Pleistocene era. The group includes the genera Smilodon, Machairodus and Homotherium. The Metailurini were originally classified as a distinct tribe within the Machairodontinae, though they count as members of the Felinae in recent times.[16][17] Most extinct cat-like animals, once regarded as members of the Felidae, later turned out to be members of related, but distinct, families: the "false sabretooths" Nimravidae and Barbourofelidae. As a result, sabretooth "cats" seem to belong to four different lineages. The total number of fossil felids that are known to science is low compared to other carnivoran families such as dogs and bears. Felidae radiated quite recently and most of the extant species are relatively young.

[edit] Genera of the Felidae

The list follows McKenna and Bells Classification of Mammals for prehistoric genera (1997)[2] and Wozencraft (2005) in Wilson and Reeders Mammal Species of the World for extant genera.[1] Pseudaelurus is included here in the Felinae according to McKenna & Bell despite its basal position in felid evolution. Inconsistent with McKenna and Bell, three additional prehistoric genera, Miracinonyx, Lokontailurus and Xenosmilus are listed. Sivapanthera is included into the Felinae (not Acinonychinae) and Ischrosmilus is included in the genus Smilodon.

Leopard cat (Prionailurus)

Ocelot (Leopardus)


Proailurinae o Proailurus Felinae o Pseudaelurus o Sivaelurus o Vishnufelis o Pikermia o Abelia o Nimravides o Pratifelis o Adelphailurus o Metailurus o Dinofelis o Dolichofelis o Sivapardus o Jansofelis o Sivapanthera o Acinonyx o Miracinonyx o Puma o Felis o Prionailurus o Lynx o Leopardus o Leptailurus o Caracal o Profelis o Catopuma o Pardofelis Pantherinae o Leontoceryx o Dromopanthera o Schaubia o Viretailurus o Panthera o Neofelis o Uncia Machairodontinae

o o o o o o o o o

Machairodus (Late Miocene, Africa, Eurasia, North America) Homotherium (Pliocene, Pleistocene; Africa, Eurasia, North America) Xenosmilus (Pleistocene; North America) Lokotunjailurus (Latest Miocene; Africa) Miomachairodus (Middle Miocene; Africa, Asia) Hemimachairodus Paramachairodus (Late Miocene; Eurasia, Africa) Megantereon (Pliocene, Pleistocene; North America, Africa, Eurasia) Smilodon (Late Pliocene to Late Pleistocene; North- and South America)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search "Felines" redirects here. For the communes in France, see Flines (disambiguation). Felinae[1]
Temporal range: Late Miocene Recent Pre O S D C P T J K

Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi)

Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Subphylum: Vertebrata

Class: Order: Family: Subfamily: Acinonyx Caracal Catopuma Felis Leopardus Leptailurus Lynx Otocolobus Pardofelis Prionailurus Profelis Puma

Mammalia Carnivora Felidae Felinae Genera

Felinae diversity

Felinae is a subfamily of the family Felidae which includes the genera and species listed below. Most are small to medium-sized cats, although the group does include some larger animals, such as the Cougar and Cheetah. The earliest records of the Felinae are ascribed Felis attica from the late Miocene (9 Ma) of western Eurasia.[2]

[edit] Genera
Genus Acinonyx (Brookes, 1828)
Acinonyx aicha Geraads, 1997 Acinonyx intermedius Thenius, 1954 Acinonyx jubatus Schreber, 1775 Cheetah Acinonyx kurteni Christiansen and Genus Leptailurus (Severtzov, 1858) Mazk, 2008 Acinonyx pardinensis Croizet e Leptailurus serval (Schreber, 1776) Joubert, 1928 Giant Cheetah Serval

Leopardus pardalis (Linnaeus, 1758) Ocelot Leopardus tigrinus (Schreber, 1775) Oncilla Leopardus wiedii (Schinz, 1821) Margay

Genus Caracal (Gray, 1843)

Genus Lynx (Kerr, 1792)

Caracal caracal (Schreber, 1776)

Lynx canadensis (Kerr, 1792) Canadian Lynx

Caracal Genus Catopuma (Severtzov, 1858)

Catopuma badia (Gray, 1874) Bay Cat Catopuma temminckii (Vigors & Horsfield, 1827) Asian Golden Cat

Lynx lynx (Linnaeus, 1758) Eurasian Lynx Lynx pardinus (Temminck, 1827) Iberian Lynx Lynx rufus (Schreber, 1777) Bobcat

Genus Miracinonyx

Genus Felis (Linnaeus, 1758)

Miracinonyx trumani Miracinonyx inexpectatus Miracinonyx studeri

Genus Otocolobus Felis attica (Wagner, 1857) Felis bieti (Milne-Edwards, 1892) Chinese Mountain Cat Otocolobus manul (Pallas, 1776) Felis catus (Linnaeus, 1758) Pallas's Cat Domestic Cat Felis chaus (Schreber, 1777) Genus Pardofelis (Severtzov, 1858) Jungle Cat Felis lunensis (Martelli, 1906) Pardofelis marmorata (Martin, 1837) Martelli's Cat Marbled Cat Felis margarita (Loche, 1858) Sand Cat Genus Prionailurus (Severtzov, 1858) Felis nigripes (Burchell, 1824) Black-footed Cat Prionailurus bengalensis (Kerr, 1792) Felis silvestris (Schreber, 1775) Leopard Cat Wildcat Prionailurus iriomotensis (Imaizumi, 1967) Iriomote Cat Genus Leopardus (Gray, 1842) Prionailurus planiceps (Vigors & Horsfield, 1827) Flat-headed Cat Leopardus braccatus (Cope, 1889) Prionailurus rubiginosus (Geoffroy Pantanal Cat Saint-Hilaire, 1831) Rusty-spotted Cat Leopardus colocolo (Molina, 1782) Prionailurus viverrinus (Bennett, 1833) Colocolo Fishing Cat Leopardus geoffroyi (d'Orbigny & Gervais, 1844) Geoffroy's Cat Genus Profelis (Severtzov, 1858) Leopardus guigna (Molina, 1782) Kodkod Profelis aurata (Temminck, 1827) Leopardus jacobitus (Cornalia, African Golden Cat 1865) Andean Mountain Cat Leopardus pajeros (Desmarest, Genus Puma (Jardine, 1834) 1816) Pampas Cat Puma concolor (Linnaeus, 1771) Cougar Puma yagouaroundi (Geoffroy, 1803) Jaguarundi


The Culture of Cat: Tales & Mythology Articles - Cat Culture & Science Written by Darlene Houseman Wednesday, 11 June 2008 19:00 In the dark of the night, as a full moon hovers high in the sky, wide eyes dart to and fro and the legend of the witch's familiar is told once more. It is said that this most mysterious and secretive creature can see in the dark and, when stroked, its fur gives off sparks of blue, orange and silver fire! Be especially careful of the black cat, for it is bound to be a demon or evil spirit in a clever disguise. And no doubt, where there is a black cat, there is most probably a witch around, for the black cat is there as the companion, the advisor, to the sorceress. Old people, invalids and babies, beware! For while you are sleeping, the cat will soundlessly enter the room, crawl up onto your chest, and suck the breath from your body until you are lifeless! These tales, among many others, have been told and re-told throughout the centuries. With its expressive jewel-like eyes, the cat seems to speak volumes without making a sound. It loves to roam in the darkest hours of night, the time that is known as the "witching hour," and no matter how much affection it shows it's human, it remains its own master. It also has an uncanny knack of landing on its feet when falling from a great height, giving rise to the most famous superstition of a cat having nine lives. This behavior has spawned thousands of years of superstitions and myths that surround these quiet, curious creatures. Many of the myths and legends surrounding the cat have a kernel of truth at their foundation. From the Egyptians came the legend that a cat has nine lives. The Egyptians worshipped the cat and gifted it with nine lives, most likely for it's nimbleness and ability to land on its feet without being harmed. This ability comes from the very flexible spine of the cat and the natural ability it has to right itself when falling. The belief that the animal can see in the dark comes from the fact that it's eyes enlarged upon the waxing of the moon and contracted as the moon waned. The cat's eyes also pick up faint rays of light and give the impression that the cat's eyes are glowing in the darkness. The sparks noted upon the stroking of the cat's fur, in fact, has solar attributes but, no doubt, was puzzling and mystifying to the ancient people. The belief of the cat as a symbol of darkness and danger, demonical in nature, came into legend with the story of Frigga, or Freyja, the wife of Odin and her cat-drawn chariot in Norse mythology. Odin, the great god, gave Frigga power over the abode of the dead in the Ninth World, otherwise known as Hel. When the Norse and Teuton converted to Christianity, Frigga was designated a witch. Friday is taken from the name of the goddess Frigga, or Freyja, and this day became known as the day that the

witch and her consorts conducted their mysterious weekly gatherings. In the dead of night, Frigga's beloved cats transformed into demonic steeds and pulled the witch's chariot across the sky. After seven years in service, it was believed that a cat altered its form to become a witch or Satan in disguise. From this legend rose the belief that it is bad luck for a black cat to cross a person's path. The breath-sucking story is one of the most detrimental superstitions to plague the feline. Although the cat may climb upon a sleeping human, investigate it's features, perhaps sniff the human's breath, the only way it can harm the person is by curling up on the person, its fur covering the face, inadvertently suffocating the human. Along with sucking the breath from the sick, old and very young, the cat was feared to house the spirit of the devil. This belief made it easy to look with suspicion upon the cats owned by those deemed to be practicing witchcraft in the middle ages. Witchcraft investigators claimed that each witch had a companion, a familiar, that was in reality a demon. This demon could take the form of any small animal, even a fly, but it was the cat that was usually to blame. During the time of the plague, the cat's association with witchcraft proved to be disastrous to the feline, as it was believed, being a representative of Beelzebub, the cats were to blame for the epidemics. The fact was, that rats carried the germs that caused the plagues, but it was the cat, the rats' most effective natural enemy that was slaughtered in large numbers during the epidemic. The ignorant actions of these superstitious people actually helped to spread the disease and only added another dark chapter to the mysterious history of the cat. Cats and weather are another curious combination for the superstitious. Seafarers and cats have a long past and many stories, half-truth and half-fiction, have been passed down through the ages. A cat aboard ship is believed to ward off evil and is considered good luck. Seafarers also base their predictions of weather on the behavior of the cat. During atmospheric changes, cats are said to act strangely and may seem uneasy, even tearing at cushions or carpets, it is said during these episodes that a cat is "raising the wind." The truth of the matter is that a cat has a superior nervous system and by the condition of its fur, it can sense approaching changes in the weather before humans can. The electricity in the air causes a cat to rub their ears and lick their fur. When a cat washes herself in her usual manner, there will be fair weather, but if she sits with her tail toward the fire or licks herself above the ears, bad weather is on the way. If a cat licks it's tail, there is rain in the forecast. If you throw a cat overboard while at sea, a storm will strike. Other cat grooming myths include the idea that when a cat washes its foot and then passes the foot over the left ear, a stranger is coming. If a cat sneezes on a wedding day, the bride will live happily ever after. If you are single and a cat washes itself and you are the first person it looks at, you may expect a marriage soon. If you put butter on a cats paws, it will not get lost. Some myths coincide and one interesting one includes the cat and the number 13. The Devil's Dozen, the number 13 is frequently considered bad luck but some regard it as

a lucky number. At London's Savoy Hotel, Kaspar, a black wooden cat is eternally assigned the 13th place at the table. Whenever a party over 12 dines at the hotel, Kaspar takes his place at the 13th place. This is done partially out of humor. But with a serious side for there are some people that are seriously afraid of sitting at the 13th place or with anything to do with the number 13. Although Kaspar is said to have been catnapped a few times, he has always returned unharmed, and none the worse for wear. Myths concerning the cat include the fact that the cat is bad luck as well as the cat bringing good luck. If a cat runs across the stage during a play, bad fortune is sure to strike. If you kick a cat, you will have bad luck. A cat a wedding will bring good luck. Other myths include:

Cats can have cows milk. In fact, many cats are lactose intolerant and cows milk may lead to an upset tummy. A female should have one litter before she is spayed. The fact is that it's much more dangerous to allow your cat, male or female to mate or even come into season before getting them altered. The male runs a risk of developing testicular cancer, or succumbing to any of the environmental hazards he may encounter by prowling such as injuries from fighting and being struck by an automobile or contracting deadly viruses such as FIV & FeLV. Besides being at risk for one of these viruses, the female is also at risk for developing pyometra (an infection of the uterus) or breast cancer, chances for this are reduced if she never has a litter. Declawing does not hurt the cat. Not true. Cats naturally walk on their toes and when a cat is declawed, the last bone on her claw is removed, amputated. From this time on, walking can be very painful to them. Because of the excruciating pain of the procedure and the detrimental after-effects, not all cats can recover from the experience and often develop behavioral problems, sometimes these problems cause the animal to be turned over to a shelter where it is unlikely it will ever be adopted out because of it's behavioral problems. Pregnant women should not own cats. It isn't the cat that's the danger, it's the disease Toxoplasmosis. Cats are a natural host for toxoplasmosis, but it can also be contracted from eating raw or undercooked meat, poorly washed vegetable or from simply working in a garden. A pregnant woman can definitely still keep her cats, for the toxoplasmosis is found in the cat's feces, that's the reason it is found when gardening. The dirt makes a natural choice for any cat to use as a litter box. The pregnant woman should make a few modifications such as relegating the litter box to her partner or wearing gloves when handling and forego the garden activities for awhile, or, again, wear gloves. Always cook meat thoroughly and wash vegetables thoroughly as well.

Perhaps the time when all of our fears and superstitions about cats come to life is on that night of All Hallow's Eve. All around us, there are depictions of shrieking black cats, backs curled and teeth bared as they glare at us, their human nemeses, with yellow baleful eyes. And on those dark nights, those full moon nights, when the witching hour is upon us, we wonder- we remember and we may be a little afraid.

Then the sun rises and all seems right with the world. You walk down the street and there, before you, directly in your path, stands a feline cast in the darkest shade of black imaginable. You are afraid, but you look into her eyes. She takes your measure and reads your soul. You remind yourself that they are all just myths, legends, folklore, superstitions. You smile hesitantly, thinking you know the secrets hidden behind her jewel-like eyes. She swishes her tail, gives you a long knowing look, twitches her tail again and darts off in the blink of an eye. Good Luck, my friend!

Cats From Ancient Egypt to Legends of Witches

Legends of cats and witchcraft have origins in ancient Egypt. The cat was revered in ancient Egypt, condemned in the Middle ages, and has been credited for having a connection to other realms. In Bubastis, cats were thought to be a goddess incarnate and were treated as such. Legends of witches have been largely misconstrued and colored by the oppression of the Christian churches... during the Middle Ages especially. Unspeakable tortures were inflicted on people thought to be using sorcery, as this challenged their interpretation of the Christian bible. It was said that these "witches" practiced the ancient religions of gods and goddesses, and had learned the "trickery" of shape shifting into other animals, particularly cats. Many of these religious leaders believed that cats by their very nature were evil and sent from the Devil himself to assist witches in their "evil deeds". The belief in cats as having otherworldly powers did not start with the agendas of the religious zealots of the European Middle Ages... although they can certainly be credited for any negative connotation. In ancient Egypt, the cat (or "mau" as it was known) was respected as a great hunter and useful for keeping rodents away. Cats in and of themselves were not worshipped, however the ancient city of Bubastis which is a short distance northeast of Cairo along the Nile, named itself after the feline goddess Bastet. This goddess is often represented as a cat, and indeed, many ancient Egyptians believed that domesticated cats represented this goddess of fertility and protection. Therefore cats in ancient Egypt had privileges that other household pets did not... including the freedom to come and go at will.

There were other deities in ancient Egypt that had a feline form... however they were generally depicted as having the head of a female lion (Sekhmet, the goddess of war, is an example of one). It is believed by many that the city of Bubastis especially put great significance on cats as a whole. This is evidenced by the many statues and representations of cats among the ruins of this city, as well as the ruins of a temple built in Bastet's honor. Many Egyptian tombs have mummified cats buried along with the people there... showing their significance as protectors. Women would pray to the goddess daily for blessings of fertility for their families. Bastet's form was generally that of a lean graceful feline, or at times, half human and half cat. Hundreds of years before Jesus is believed to have been born... Bubastis, along with the rest of the cities of ancient Egypt, fell at the hands of the Persians. It is said that one of the reasons for the devastating loss was the reluctance on the part of ancient Egyptian warriors to strike the Persian shield... whose coat of arms contained the rendering of a cat. Even before this defeat, there were teachings from the very people Egypt had enslaved for so many years... the Hebrews... that were gaining strength. These teachings went completely against the worship of many deities and the edification of animals that had been the norm for so long. The notion of more than one God came to be seen by a growing number of people as being "evil". Anyone who continued to worship these gods and goddesses became thought of as blasphemous... and the term "pagan" which had meant "country dweller" came to mean anyone who didn't believe in one God... and "goddess" wasn't even part of the equation. The matriarchal society was not accepted, as women were told to step back and let the men make the final decisions. The legends of what we have come to know as witchcraft have many origins in the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians. One of the most common threads is that of balance... not one male dominated God but the working together of male and female. Rather than females being relegated to the role of a helpmate always deferring to the male... they were revered as representations of life, much as Bastet was. Fertility was respected rather than expected. Sponsor Message:

There is also the study of shape-shifting. Many legends of witchcraft involve the ability to change into another living creature at will. The Egyptians also studied this, and there was a belief among many at the time that domestic cats were actually products of Bastet directly. The cat in and of itself was not worshipped in either Egyptian or witch folklore... however, the belief in cats being able to "see" beyond this world has similarities. This belief was intentionally misconstrued by many Christian leaders, especially in the Middle Ages. Locals in villages all over Europe and in parts of colonial America fell under a mass hysteria of irrational fear of witchcraft perpetuated by the church. Anyone thought to be a witch was captured, given a mockery of a trial, and executed. The belief that cats were "familars" of witches and could possibly be witches shifted into cats led to these witch hunters rounding up cats by the hundreds. These cats met the same fate as their human counterparts. Whether the cat was revered as it was in ancient Egypt, or condemned as it was in the Middle ages, it is clear that this animal has been credited by many for having a connection to other realms. In Bubastis, cats were thought to be a goddess incarnate and were treated as such. In later years during the witch trials in Europe and America, cats were thought to be witches incarnate... and were killed. Ironically... if they hadn't destroyed those cats, the rodent population may have stayed under control... and the Black Plague wouldn't have taken so many lives! Equally ironic is that legends of cats being revered, fertility, and goddesses walking side by side with gods were so readily named "evil" by religious leaders killing in the name of God. Written by Angela Sangster, Copyright 2010 TrueGhostTales.com

http://www.wyrdology.com/cats/index.htm l Felis Catus

The relationship between man and cats goes back many thousands of years. Today we mostly think of cats as a domestic pet (although most cats would claim that is their "owners" who have been domesticated!). In fact there is much more to the cat than a domestic animal. These graceful felines have played their part in the mythology of most cultures. Cat folklore and legends range from the ancient Egyptians (who saw cats as representing the goddess Bast) through the well known association of the cat with medieval witches to today's superstitions and urban legends.

Cats are also strongly associated with the supernatural and appear to have some form of sixth sense. They are, of course, common in film and literature, ranging from Lewis Carroll's grinning Cheshire Cat through to the rather less pleasant Cat People (1942 and 1982). On these pages I'll be covering a little of the feline world, with a special emphasis on the strange and wonderful side of the cat. Even if you're a lifelong cat lover I hope you'll find something new and interesting here - and possibly never look at your favourite pet in the same way again!

Are Cats Psychic?

It's well known that animals can sense more than we do. In many cases this is simply because the ordinary senses such as sight and smell are more efficient and the animal is better attuned to them. However some reports of animal sensitivity seem to go beyond this and the psychic cat is well established in folklore.

One Out Of Three Cats Prefer Telepathy

The psychic powers of animals - if they exist - seem to be strongest in dogs and cats. This is possibly because in our Western society they are the advanced mammals that with which most humans have most contact. A 1997 survey (1) showed that 53% of dog owners and 33% of cat owners believed that their pet responded to their unspoken commands. Such results could be put down the wishful thinking on the part of the human or of the animal picking up on non-verbal cues. More difficult to explain is the fact that many pets seem to know when their owner is about to arrive home, even if this is at a wildly diferent time to normal. 46% of dog owners thought this to be the case compared with a mere 14% of cat owners. Those familiar with cats might suspect that the other 86% did indeed know but were simply too cool to show it.

Many animals also appear to have premonitions and become agitated before a disaster. The most well known example is animals of all types apparently predicting earthquakes. There are tales from World War II, especially during the London Blitz, of cats knowing when an air raid was on the way. Often they would become visibly alarmed and would sometimes head for the shelter themselves, thus allowing the family to get to safety long before the sirens began to wail.

These examples could be due to the cats picking up subtle sensory cues to which we are insensitive. However many animals, especially cats, also seem to have premonitions of other forms of disaster for which there is no apparent physical cue. In the same way that cats know when their owner is due home, there are also reports of them knowing when the owner has come to harm. There are stories of cats becoming visibly distressed when their owner is involved in an accident even when it occurs miles away. There are also reports that cats seem able to sense when someone participating in an out-of-body experience comes close to them. These psychic powers of cats, along with their supposed ability to sense the spirit world, are probably one reason for their association with medieval witchcraft.

Cats at Sea

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To the sailor of old, "the cat" was not necesarily a pleasant sight. The word "cat" could refer to the cat 'o nine tails, a fearsome whip used for punishment. That aside, feline cats were normally welcome on board ship, albeit as working animals rather than pets. The chief reason for having cats at sea was primarily practical. By catching mice, rats and other pests the ship's cat was performing a valuable service. If left to spread, these vermin could seriously damage the ship's supplies and possibly cargo. Having your food stocks destroyed by rats when in the middle of the ocean is not something to be taken lightly. A good ratter was thus highly popular on board ship. Sailors believed that unusual polydactyl cats - those with more than the normal number of toes on their feet - were better at catching pests. This may be connected with the suggestion that the extra digit gives a polydactyl cat better balance when at sea. In some places polydactyl cats were known as "ship's cats".

Beyond their practical benefits, sailors also believed cats on ships to be lucky. This might in part be due to the simple logic that a catless ship overrun by rats was definitely unlucky! However it is likely to be connected with the cat's long standing reputation for luck in general. Cats were also reputed to be able to predict the weather. Sometimes it was said that they could actually control the weather, using their tails to call up winds for good or ill depending on their mood. Some sailors went as far as to believe that if the ship's cat fell overboard then it would retaliate by calling up a fearsome storm to sink the ship.

The Grinning Cheshire Cat

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The strange, grinning Cheshire Cat is one of the many memorable creations of nineteenth century writer Lewis Carroll (pseudonym for the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson). Cheshire is a county in England that's famous for its cheese. The Cheshire Cat appears in Alice in Wonderland (or, more properly, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland") which was first published in 1866. The cat was apparently a late addition to the story. It belongs to the Duchess and is, of course, known for its weird grin. It combines this with an infuriatingly twisted sense of logic Carroll was very interested in symbolic logic and would have enjoyed using apparent logic to produce nonsense. It is, of course, for its strange disappearances that the Cheshire Cat is best known. At one point it simply fades away and all that is left is its grin: "Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; "but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!" Alice in Wonderland was inspired by a boating trip Carroll took along with a friend and three young local girls. During the trip Carroll made up stories to tell the girls and

one of the characters in these stories was named Alice - since one of the girls was Alice Pleasance Liddell. Much of the content of the Alice books has hidden meaning - either symbolic, allegorical or simple direct reference. For a detailed examination of the Alice books I thoroughly recommend The Annotated Alice by Martin Gardner. It's thought by some that the Cheshire Cat was actually inspired by a carving of a cat in a church in the village of Croft. This is the village where Carroll's father had been rector, so the young Charles Dodgson would have been familiar with the carving. From the viewpoint of a young child it is suggested that at certain angles all that could be seen of the carving would be its huge grin, a weird sight indeed. Cat statues are common in a number of churches and the phrase "grin like a Cheshire Cat" appears to predate Carroll. A less familiar variation is "grin like a Cheshire Cheese". It has been suggested that it was traditional in Cheshire to mould cheeses in the shape of a grinning cat. This all suggests links back to an earlier, perhaps Celtic, tradition. The Cheshire Grin also has less pleasant connotations. It was a slang term used to refer to the practice of execution by hanging or cutting the throat. This again appears to trace back to the Celts and an early example is the Lindow Man believed to have been sacrificed in around 61AD.

Cats In Ancient Egypt

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The cat had a special place in the culture of ancient Egypt. They were highly valued, not least for the practical reason that mice and rats could destroy a town's food supply. Cats were often given golden jewelry and allowed to eat at the human table. Killing a cat was a capital offence and when a cat died the household would go into mourning.

The reverence of the ancient Egyptians for cats went as far as the gods. Ancient Egypt had many gods and at least one of these, Bast, was a cat god. Bast was usually pictured as a woman with a cat's head.

Worship of Bast - also known as Bastet or Thet - began almost three thousand years ago during the 2nd dynasty of ancient Egypt. She was originally a protective warrior goddess and was known as the defender of the pharoah and all Egypt. For this reason she was represented by a fierce lioness or a wild desert cat. Over time the warrior aspect was toned down. Bast became more associated with perfumes and ointments. In this gentler form she came to be represented from around 1000 BC by the domestic cat. She was also often shown with a number of kittens and in this form was something of a fertility goddess. It is also said that some women looked upon the cat as the ultimate image of beauty and used make-up to give themselves a more feline look. Because cats were associated with Bast and hence sacred, on death they were honoured with mummification. This process was thought to allow the cat's spirit to rejoin its body in the afterlife. Tombs have been discovered containing many thousands of mummified cats, in particular the tomb at the temple of Bast herself which was discovered in 1888. Worship of cats continued until 390 AD when Bast worship was officially banned.

Cats and Luck

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Cats - especially black ones - have long been associated with luck, both good and bad. A great deal of the world's folklore and superstition is about cats one way or another. This is possibly because of the cat's association with witches and psychic

powers along with their ability to "fall on their feet". Many people buy lucky cat charms and figurines such as the Maneki Neko "lucky cat". Unfortunately this plethora of superstitions causes its own problems - a lot of things are either lucky or unlucky depending on who you listen to! Here are a few pieces of cat folklore relating to luck and the interpretations which are most familiar to me. Ships Cats on ships were considered to be lucky, unless they fell overboard in which case trouble resulted. Dreams There are so many tales associated with dreaming about cats... Most people seem to consider such dreams lucky how a few say the opposite. There are also different beliefs connected with the type of cat in the dream, for example dreaming of a tortoiseshell cat is sometimes said to bring luck in love. However to dream of cats fighting or scratching you is seen as unlucky. Killing Killing a cat is a definite no-no in many cultures an results in much bad luck - in ancient Egypt it was a capital offence. This is part of a wider band of supersition that seems to suggest that anything bad you do to a cat will rebound on to you as if they have some kind of powerful psychic shield. Crossing Your Path Simply seeing a black cat unexpectedly can be either lucky or unlucky. However if an unknown black cat crosses your path then this is usually considered unlucky. Graves To some Christians, a cat sitting on a grave was bad luck for the deceased - it represented the Devil's power over their soul. Two cats fighting on the grave represented the Devil and God fighting for possession of the soul. Tails Stepping on the tail of a cat is said to bring bad luck. Considering the reaction of the cat this probably isn't at all unlikely! Houses To have an unknown cat enter your house could be considered good or bad luck. Some people say it's always lucky, others make an exception for the poor old black cat which is once again singled out as unlucky. The opposite is also sometimes said cats leaving or refusing to enter a house means bad luck there.

Cats and Their Nine Lives

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We've all heard the saying that cats have nine lives. Even Shakespeare makes reference to this piece of folklore in Romeo and Juliet: Tybalt: What wouldst thou have with me? Mercutio: Good king of cats, nothing but one of your nine lives. There is also an ancient proverb of unknown provenance: "A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays, and for the last three he stays." But where does this myth actually originate? Unfortunately nobody seems to be quite sure. The best theory appears to be that it is connected with the cat's great dexterity and its famed ability to "fall on its feet". Cats can apparently survive mishaps that would be seriously damaging to other animals. Combine this with the long-standing reverence for cats as possibly psychic, supernatural or even divine creatures and it is plausible that people could have speculated a cat somehow had multiple lives.

Why Nine Lives?

Given that people assumed cats had multiple lives, why nine? Why does a cat have nine lives and not six or ten? Well, in some countries they do - one of my readers tells me that in Spain cats are said to have seven lives (thanks ngel). However nine appears to be the most common number in the English speaking world. One theory is that the nine lives originated from the ancient Egyptian reverence of cats. The god Atum-Ra - who took the form of a cat when visiting the underworld gave birth to eight other major gods. As such, Atum incorporated nine lives in one. Another suggestion is that the nine lives theory might have originated in China. The number nine is considered lucky in China and featured heavily in the mythology of Chinese dragons.

Cat Quotes

A few of my favourite cat related quotations, sayings and wise words.

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat. Robert Heinlein Cruel, but composed and bland, Dumb, inscrutable and grand, So Tiberius might have sat, Had Tiberius been a cat. Matthew Arnold Dogs come when they're called; cats take a message and get back to you later. Mary Bly I am as vigilant as a cat to steal cream. William Shakespeare If cats could talk, they wouldn't. Nan Porter In the beginning, God created man, but seeing him so feeble, He gave him the cat. Warren Eckstein The reason cats climb is so that they can look down on almost every other animal - it's also the reason they hate birds. K.C. Buffington There are many intelligent species in the universe. They are all owned by cats. Unknown Thousands of years ago cats were worshipped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this. Unknown Touch not the cat but a glove Sir Walter Scott "Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; "but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!" Lewis Carroll

Cat Tails
Folklore and Superstition
There is a vast amount of legend, supersition and folklore surrounding the cat. Much of it seems to involve their tails. This is possibly because of the wide variation in tail length and shape. Here are a few of the stories I've come across: Hairs The hairs on the tip of the cat's tail are often associated with magical powers. In some

stories they have beeen used as an aid to divination, in others they are the mark of the devil. Luck Stepping on the tail of a cat is said to bring bad luck. Since the cat is unlikely to be pleased by such an event I can imagine this superstition coming true very quickly! Straying Some stories say that a cat can be prevented from straying by burying a portion of its tail by the door of your home. Depending on the source, this requires anything from a few hairs to the entire tail - needless to say, I do not recommend the latter approach! In some legends the reason that certain breeds of cat have evolved short or nonexistent tails is to avoid this practice. Ark Another tale to account for the Manx cat's lack of tail is that it was caught in the door of the ark when Noah slammed it shut. I can imagine the cat being late and looking at Noah with a "Yeah, yeah - don't rush me" expression! Vampires Oriental vampires were said to be able to transform themselves into cats. However they could always be recognised because they would have two tails. Kinked The kinked tail of the Siamese cat is said to have come into being when a princess used it to store her rings whilst bathing. The cat curled its tail around the rings to protect them and Siamese cats have had a kinked tail ever since.

The Witch's Familar

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Perhaps one of the most well known weird associations of the cat is its reputation as the preferred familiar of witches. In fact many different animals - everything from owls to toads - can be familiars. However it is the image of the black cat that we most often associate with witches, especially at Halloween.

What Is A Familiar?
A "familiar" is more accurately called a "familiar spirit", the name deriving from the word "family". This was believed to be some form of spirit that either took the form of or inhabited the body of an animal. Familiars were believed to assist witches in their activities, be those activities philanthropic or nefarious. Sometimes the familiar was believed to be the source of the witch's magical powers, possibly channeling this from some demonic entity. Some modern Wiccans prefer to think of their familiars not as spirits but simply as animals with whom they are psychically attuned. This is more in keeping with the pagan tradition.

Why The Black Cat?

Of all the animals that could be used as familiars, why should the cat - in particular the black cat - be the most common? There are a number of possible explanations. One possibility is simply the folklore reputation that cats have always had for psychic abilities. If one is going to choose an animal to assist in witchcraft then it makes sense to select one that is believed to have special powers. A more mundane possibility is simply that cats are clever, inquisitive, stealthy creatures that can go almost anywhere without being noticed. In the dark of night, a black cat can be almost invisible. When a cat does let out a cry it can be quite bloodcurdling. It would thus be the ideal choice of companion for a witch. The most depressing explanation of for the cat as familiar is simply the nature of the witch hunts. Many of the people accused of witchcraft were spinsters living alone. Such people are often likely to have pets, a cat being a favourite. Given the cat's reputation for psychic ability and its physical talents, possession of a cat was an easy excuse for condemning an alleged witch. Someone who takes in a nosey, stray black kitten is not necessarily a wicked, mindcontrolling enchantress...

Cat Superstitions
Myths, Legends, and Beliefs About Felines

Jan 31, 2009 Jennifer Copley

Japanese Good Luck Cat - Fg2, Wikipedia Throughout history, cats have been at the center of numerous superstitions regarding luck, weather, health, and the spirit world. Many common beliefs surrounding cats relate to fortune, with cats being cast as portents of either good or bad luck. Other superstitions hold that cats control or predict the weather and that they embody the souls of dead ancestors or supernatural beings.

Cats as Bringers of Good Luck

There are a number of traditional beliefs regarding luck and cats. In Scotland, some believed that a black kitten on the porch meant future happiness and riches. Other indicators of good luck have included:

A cat at a wedding A sneezing cat Dreaming of a white cat A black cat crossing ones path (UK, Japan) A black cat walking toward a person

Japans Maneko Neko, or good luck cat, is a beckoning feline with one paw raised that is said to bring good fortune. As it is believed to invite wealth, piggy banks are often created in the shape of the Maneko Neko.
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Cats as Harbingers of Bad Luck

At various times and in various places, the following have been considered back luck:

Seeing a white cat at night A black cat walking toward a person but then stopping and turning away Chasing a black cat out of ones home

Although having a black cat cross ones path is considered bad luck in America and various European countries outside the UK, in Germany, if the black cat crosses from left to right, it portends good luck (crossing in the other direction indicates bad luck).

Superstitions Regarding Health and Safety

Throughout the ages, there have been various superstitions regarding cats and health, including:

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A Superior Look into Common Superstitions in History Cat Superstitions Field Guide to Luck by Alys R. Yablon One who kicks a cat will develop rheumatism in that leg. A black cat lying on a sick persons bed will bring death. Stroking a black cat will ensure health and wealth. Cats will suck the breath from babies.

Myths involving cats and the safety of boats at sea are also quite common. In certain fishing communities, the wives of fisherman will keep cats indoors, as this is believed to protect their men from peril at sea. Also, sailors once thought that throwing a cat overboard would cause their ship to sink in a storm.

Beliefs Regarding the Ability of Cats to Predict the Weather

In the past, many believed that cat behaviours could predict the weather. For example:

A cat licking its tail or washing behind its ears meant that rain was on its way. A restless cat indicated that a storm was brewing. When a cat pointed its tail toward the fireplace, bad weather would follow shortly thereafter. Pouring or sprinkling water on a cat would make it rain.

Myths Regarding Cats and Evil Spirits

People of various cultures at various times throughout history have believed that cats are goblins, vampires, fairies, or sorcerers in disguise. Some additional examples of superstitions linking cats to evil entities include:

Drown a cat and the Devil will get you. If a cat leaps over a corpse, the dead body will reanimate as a vampire. Mummifying a cat and placing it inside a wall will ward off evil spirits.

Positive Feline Spiritual Associations

Cats have also been linked with positive spiritual beliefs, the best known of which is the Egyptian reverence for felines. Other examples include Latvia, where a black cat

in a grain silo is a good thing because these cats are the manifestation of the harvest god Rungis, and Japan, where a cat with a black spot on its fur embodies the soul of a dead ancestor. Deities that could assume the form of a cat have included the goddess Diana in Rome, the god Ai Apaec in Peru, and the deity Li Shou in China, which had the power to ward off evil spirits. In Burma and Siam, when a holy man died, it was believed that his spirit would enter a cat. Then, when the cat died, his spirit was transported to paradise. In Scandinavia, the goddess Freyja rode a cat-drawn chariot, and farmers would leave offerings for Freyjas cats so that their harvests would be bountiful. Similar ideas regarding cats and fertility led some Europeans to decorate cats with ribbons and send them into fields after the harvest to appease the gods.

Other Cat-Related Superstitions

A few other amusing beliefs regarding cats have included the following:

If a cat washes itself, company is coming. Upon seeing a one-eyed cat, a person should make a wish, then spit on his thumb and stamp it into the palm of his hand so that the wish will come true. Pregnant women should not allow cats to sleep on their laps, or their babies may be born with cat faces.

Cats are Neither Lucky nor Unlucky

The reality is that cats have no effect on luck or weather, though they actually do bring certain health benefits to their owners. However, superstitions about cats persist, many of them stemming from the time of the witch hunts. For more information on myths and superstitions surrounding felines, see:

Halloween and the Black Cat Myths About Cats

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Cat Behaviour Myths and Facts

Correcting Popular Misconceptions About Felines

Nov 5, 2008 Jennifer Copley

Cat - Jennifer Copley There are many persistent myths regarding feline intentions, most of which stem from a misunderstanding of cat behaviour. Are cats loners? Will a tom cat kill his kittens if he gets the chance? Why do cats always seem to make a beeline for the one person in the room who doesnt like cats? Here are the answers to some common cat-related questions.

Myth: Cats Demand Attention When Their Owners are on the Phone Because Theyre Jealous.
Fact: The cat hears her owner talking on the phone and because there is no one else in the room, she assumes that the owner is talking to her and responds accordingly.

Myth: Cats Sulk When Theyve Been Scolded.

Fact: Staring is perceived as a challenge among cats. A cat that has been scolded feels inferior and possibly fearful as well. He will turn away and avoid looking at his owner because he doesnt want to provoke any further hostility. Walking away and refusing to make eye contact is a sign of surrender rather than passive-aggressive anger.
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Myth: Feeding a Cat Well will Cause Her to Lose Her Hunting Skills.
Fact: Hunting is both an instinct and a talent. All cats have the instinct to hunt. Cats train their kittens to hunt, and they practice hunting skills with cat toys, household objects, or other animals and people in the household. Some cats are naturally better hunters than others, but this has nothing to do with how much they are fed.

Myth: If a Cat Pees on the Floor, Rubbing His Nose in the Mess will Prevent Future Problems.
Fact: Rubbing a cats nose in it will actually increase the likelihood of future accidents because it increases the anxiety that may have caused the problem in the first place. Also, accidents outside the litter box are often caused by medical problems that require treatment.

Myth: Cats Like to Torment Those Who Dislike or Fear Them.

Fact: Those who like cats tend to stare at them, whereas cats perceive a direct stare as a challenge, particularly from people they dont know well, and whose reactions they cant anticipate as easily. Thus, the cat makes a beeline for the one person in the room who is not staring at her.

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Myth: Female White Cats are Not Good Mothers.

Fact: Many cats with white fur and blue eyes are deaf, and thus may not hear the calls of their kittens. However, deaf cats can be good mothers because they become sensitive to sound vibrations and visual cues in order to compensate for the handicap.

Myth: Cats Only Purr if Theyre Happy.

Fact: Cats that are sick or in pain will purr, both to speed the healing process and to appease any potential aggressors. A cat that feels threatened may also purr in the hopes of diffusing the others aggression. A cat may even purr when dying.

Myth: Tom Cats Will Always Kill Kittens.

Tom cat behaviour is highly variable. A male cat may ignore his kittens, care for them, or kill them. Often, hes not given the chance to show what he would do because the mother cat drives him away. However, if hes allowed to interact with them, a tom cat may actually take good care of his kittens. Tom cats have been observed guarding their offspring and even supplying them with food. A tom cat may nurture his kittens because he has feelings for them, or he may do it to encourage the mother cat to become less involved with them and thus go into heat sooner, providing another mating opportunity.

Myth: Cats Are Solitary Creatures.

Fact: Among barn cats and feral cats, cats hunt alone, but usually live in a matrilineal colony that includes a mother cat and her daughters and granddaughters. Male cats tend to leave the clans when they are around 18 months old to go off in search of fertile, unrelated females. Domesticated kittens that are not taken away from their littermates for at least 10 weeks after birth are more likely to be comfortable living in multicat households as adults. Those taken away too soon often have trouble getting along with other cats because they have been deprived of socialization opportunities with their siblings.

Myth: Cats Use Their Whiskers for Balance.

Fact: Whiskers act as feelers; they have no effect on balance. A cat uses her whiskers to judge whether or not shell fit through an opening, to navigate around obstacles in the dark, to locate prey when hunting, and to kill prey quickly and cleanly. A cats whiskers should never be removed or trimmed.

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Cats and World Mythology

"I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior." Hippolyte Taine Cats have been the protagonists of myths and legends from all over the world. Some have worshipped them, some have condemned them, and today people are idolising them again, though maybe not with that fervor of the Ancient Egyptians. You may choose to view the whole document simply by scrolling down. Alternatively, you can go directly to the sections that interest you by clicking the links below.
Egyptian Cats - Norwegian Goddesses - Witches and their Cats - Islam and Cats - The Legend of the Burmese Cat - The Sacred Siamese - Rain Cloud Cats - the Korat Malaysian Cats - The Beckoning Cat, Japan - Noah's Ark - Ngariman, Australian legend - Cat Superstitions

NOTE: All these images have been taken from other pages, with the permission of the respective authors. I think it is the least I can do to link their pages. After each section, in fact, you'll find a link or two. Besides that, if you click on the images, it will send you to the page they came from.

"It all started in Ancient Egypt...

...when the Egyptians started identifying the lions that roamed around their land with the Sun. They believed that at sunset, Ra, the Sun God, would die and descend through the underworld in the West, to be born again in the East, at sunrise. During the night, however Ra was always in great

danger, as his enemies, headed by the great serpent Apophis would not hesitate to attack him, thus putting the whole Universe in danger. However, the lions would look unto the setting sun, and keep its rays in their eyes, for they, like domestic felines, have eyes that reflect in the dark. With that fire burning in their eyes, the lions would go forth and kill the serpents of the night, as we were going to do afterwards, when the domestic cat was bred in the temples of the Black Land (Kemet, the name applied by the Ancient Egyptians to their country). With the image of the lion in mind, the Egyptians built the Sphinx, a huge effigy of the Sun God, with the body of a lion and the head of a Pharaoh, and they also worshipped the goddess Sekhmet, who with the head of a lion (see picture) was the goddess of war, who descended to the earth to destroy the enemies of Ra, and was known as the Eye of Ra. Amongst the list of Egyptian feline goddess we find Mau, a personification of Ra as a cat (Mau being the ancient Egyptian word for cat); Tefnut, a lion headed goddess whose name means Moisture and represents one of the most primeval forces of creation; and Mafdet, a goddess of protection. In an Ancient Egyptian spell which repels snakes, the protection of Mafdet is invoked: 'O cobra, I am the flame which shines on the brows of the Chaos-gods of the Standard of Years. Begone from me, for I am Mafdet!'

However, the domestic cat was specifically claimed to be under the protection of Bast. Bast, like Sekhmet was often said to be the daughter of Ra, and she was the protector of cats and those who took care of cats; her gifts were joy and pleasure. Her cult was centred in the city of Bubastis (called Per-Bast, or House of Bast, by the Egyptians), where, once her temple stood. The Greek historian, Herodotus said "there is no temple more beautiful than that of Bubastis". Bubastis also housed a necropolis where hundreds of mummified cats were buried. She also had an annual festival, which seems to have been one of the most popular in the whole of Egypt, accompanied by loud music and chanting. She is often represented either as a woman with a cat's head, or as a cat. The significance of Bast can only be understood by comparing her to Sekhmet. Indeed, there is evidence that the Egyptians viewed them as aspects of the same divine force - Sekhmet being the violent aspect of the divine sun, and Bast being its gentler aspect.

However, while Bast is recently growing in popularity, it must be remembered that Egyptian deities were not without their macabre side. In an Egyptian legend, which talks about the search for the Book of Thoth, one of the characters is a mysterious seductress who is a priestess of Bast. She seduces Prince Setna, telling him: 'Be joyful, my sweet lord, for I am destined to be your bride. But remember that I am no common woman but the child of Bastet the Beautiful - and I cannot endure a rival. So before we are wed write me a scroll of divorcement against your present wife; and write also that you give your children to me to be slain and thrown down to the cats of Bastet - for I cannot endure that they shall live and perhaps plot evil against our children.' The quote above also sheds light on a popular concept amongst Egyptian women seems to have been that the ideal beauty was that of a cat. The make-up they used accentuated particular features, especially the eyes, which gave them a mysterious cat-like look. Often children were consecrated to Bastet - a cut was made on their arm and drops of cat blood poured into it. A marble coffin of a royal cat refers to the cat contained inside it as "Lady Cat". A human who killed a cat, even accidentally, was put to death, and when a cat died, the owners used to shave off their eyebrows as a sign of mourning. In the tomb of Tutankhamun, the image of a serene Bast was found on a gilded shrine, housing the royal coffin. One of the discoverers of Tutankhamun's tomb, Lord Carnarvon, is said to have become interested in Egyptology after discovering a cat coffin. The increase in internation trade with Ancient Egypt, especially by Phoenicians and Romans, spread cats to other lands, from Egypt to Europe and Asia. In these countries, cats have their own stories too. In the meantime, the domestic cats in Egypt are still highly respected, for in that land, the bond between cat and human is now eternal, with cats walking among the streets in the market place, where till today, the images of Bast are still being offered to tourists, as they must have been offered once, a long time ago, to pilgrims, who would have been going to the annual celebration of Bast!

Want to learn more about Bast?

The Cat Goddess Bast www.per-bast.org Who is Bast really?

"Then with the Norse...

... cats were associated with Freyja. The name Freyja (alternatively spelt Freija, Freiya, or Freya) means 'the Lady', and she is the mistress of magic (her particular form

of magic being called Seidh, a system involving trance and very similar to shamanism). The day Friday is named after her. Her personal transport is a magnificent chariot, drawn by two large grey cats.
Freyja picture by Kris Waldherr, creator of the Goddess Tarot: http://www.artandwords.com/goddesstarot/ More info at: http://freyja.freehomepage.com/ http://www.thorshof.org/freyapic.htm

"And the witches! Never to be forgotten!

Later history is marked by a very dark craze, centering on a phenomenon popularly called 'witchcraft'. The classical stereotype of the witch in our culture and folklore has come to be an old woman, possibly with green or gray skin, wearing a pointed hat, clad completely in black. She possesses a flying broomstick, and a black cat. But what is behind this myth? First of all, the 'witches' involved in the witch trials included a variety of people. While our concept of the witch is as an old woman, the 'witches' which were put to trial included men, young women and horribly enough, children, though the vast majority can be said to have been adult women. The traditional black cat accompanying the witch derives from the tradition that a witch would be given a 'familiar', that is an animal helper from the Devil, to help her in her magical workings. Most of these familiars would have a name (just like ordinary pets) but the very natural fact of giving a loved pet a name and occasionally talking to such a pet was already an implication that one is involved in 'witchcraft'. Most might recall that one of the witches in Shakespeare's Macbeth calls her cat Grimalkin, (Gri meaning 'grey'; and malkin meaning 'cat' but also meaning promiscuous or eccentric woman) ; an actual case from a witch trial concerns a cat called Pyewackett. According to Matthew Hopkins, the Witch-finder general, this was a name 'no mortal could invent'. The name might be familiar to some from the movie Bell, Book and Candle.

Out of all the possible familiars (cats, dogs, toads, bats, and even horses) cats got the worst publicity. Pope Gregory IX denounced black cats as Satanic in his 1233 Papal Bull 'Vox in Rama' and this launched the extermination of many cats, and subsequently thousands of cats were burned alive in the cause of searching out the devil. Tales of these witches' cats turning into mice, dogs, bats and all sorts of creatures flourished during the Middle Ages. Another instance of the oppression of cats was in the downfall of the Knights Templar. Under torture, the Knights Templar were compelled to confess to heresy, renouncing Christ and, in some instances, the worship of cats. It is debatable whether these confessions tell us more about the practices of the Knights Templar, or rather, whether they speak more loudly of the popular conceptions held by Church officials of the time. Another explanation (though highly questionable) of why black cats are often associated with witches and the Devil is this. The "blackberry" cats are often born at the end of the blackberry season, which according to legend is the time of the year in which Satan was thrown out of heaven, landing on a blackberry bush which he then defiled with his urine and spittle. In the late 19th Century, folklorist Charles G. Leland wrote about groups of women around Italy, known as streghe ie. witches, who still worshipped the goddess Diana, deity of the moon, and in this Italian tradition Leland was writing about, was known as 'the Queen of witches'. Her brother, who in classical mythology was Apollo, is here called Lucifer, which though not without references to Christian concepts, means 'light-bearer'. In trying to trick Lucifer to conceive a son with her, Diana takes the shape of a cat. Much irony has come from these historical instances. First of all we find conflicting versions of black cat superstitions. Some groups (especially Southern European countries) tend to associate black cats with bad luck; others (especially England) attribute good luck to the same animal. Secondly we find that the mass-burnings of cats led to a very unhappy fate - the proliferation of rats, which not only decimated food resources, but acted as the carrier of illness, the culmination of which was the Great Plagues. Finally, it is interesting how several people have re-interpreted the concept of 'familiar', and feel that their pets are indeed helpers of a sort. This is coupled with a growing interest in what was once termed witchcraft, and what was once the Order of the Knights Templar.
A modern perspective on familiars. Joan's Witch Directory - a good historical resource. A critical review of Leland's Aradia

"Cats in Islamic countries...

...are considered to be very clean animals. The Prophet Mohammed is said to have kept cats himself, and popular legend tells that one time, the Prophet had to respect the call to prayer, but his cat was sleeping on the sleeve of his

robe. Rather than awake the cat, the Prophet simply tore his sleeve, and went of to prayer.

"Then there's the Sacred Cat of Burma...

the legend of the Birman takes place in a temple built on the sides of Mount Lugh, in Burma. The temple housed the golden image of the Goddess Tsun Kyan-Kse. The holy Kittah (monk) Mun-Ha was head monk. The God Song Hio himself braided Mun-Ha's beard with gold. Mun-Ha always used to meditate in front of the Goddess with the sapphire eyes. The Goddess Tsun Kyan-Kse made sure that the Kittahs would be reborn as an animal for the duration of a life, after which the soul would be in Nirvana (the heaven beyond illusion), shining with a golden halo. Accompanying him in his meditation was Sinh, a white cat whose ears reflected the yellow of the golden Goddess and the golden beard of his master, and whose nose, tail and paws were brown like the earth on which he stood. As the moon shone, one night, Mun-Ha entered a transcendental state which was so deep that he felt no pain when Siamese invaders murdered him. Sinh placed his gentle paws on the monk's robes. Facing the Goddess, Sinh's fur became gold, like the golden statue before him, and his eyes became the beautiful blue shining eyes of the Goddess. His legs, his tail, his ears and his face became a velvety rich brown. His paws, which were gently laid on his master's body became a purest white. The Kittahs, though in a state of panic due to the invasion, obeyed Sinh's commanding but serene look, and closed the heavy bronze doors of the temple, thus saving it from the invaders. The next morning, the remaining ninety-nine cats had been similarly transformed, and thus the Birman breed has its origins. Sinh did not move from the place of his master's death, and exactly seven days after, he died, carrying with him the soul of Mun-Ha, which it was his duty to present to Tsun Kyan-Kse who would reward him with Nirvana. On that same day, the priests were arguing about who should succeed MunHa. All the transformed temple cats entered the temple and in complete silence surrounded the youngest of the Kittahs, who was to succeed Mun-Ha. Thus it is believed that when a Kittah dies, he would be reincarnated as a Birman cat before attaining Nirvana. Another belief, according to Major

Russell Gordon is this: "But woe also to he who brings about the end of one of these marvelous beasts, even if he did not mean to. He will suffer the most cruel torments until the soul he has upset is appeased."
The Temple of the Sacred Cat Taron Birmans "The Birman Cat (The Sacred Cat of Burma)" by Vivianne Smith.

"The Sacred Siamese...

too has it's own legend. It was said that when Siamese kings died, their souls would pass on to a Siamese cat, so that he could be present at the coronation of the succeeding king before attaining heaven. This cat would have been treated as part of the Royal family, and would have resided in the palace. Besides that, there are some Siamese cats who have a kinked tail and who have yet another legend. They're considered auspicious in the Far East, and legend has it that an ancestor of this breed voluntarily kinked it's tail so as to provide a safe place for the princess' rings while she was bathing. She used to slide her rings along the cat's tail, and there was no danger of them being lost, as the kinked tail prevented them from falling. Of course, if the cat ran away, it would be a different story, but if a cat is so faithful so as to kink his/her tail, try picturing him running away.

"The Rain Cloud cats!...

Yet another cat myth from the mysterious Orient is that of the Korat, a blue grey cat. They were originally called Si-Suwat, meaning "grey cat". However they were later renamed by King Ramu V of Siam after their region of origin. Their bluegrey colour resembles a rain cloud, and these cats are used in ritual processions meant to bring rain to the fields. This is what a local poet had to say about them:
"The hairs are smooth with roots like clouds, and tips like silver, and eyes that shine like dewdrops on a lotus leaf."

Rather unlike the royal Siamese, they are linked with the farmers, who to induce rain carry one of our kind in procession, while they themselves chant and pray to the sky gods. After the procession, the water is sprinkled on the cat's face so as to induce rain.

"Yet another story from the Orient...

...has its origins in Malaysia, where people believed the cat would help souls journey from Hell (in this case, the equivalent of the Christian Purgatory) to Paradise. The punishment for killing a cat was to carry and stack as many coconut tree trunks as the cat had hairs. (Talk about deforestation!)

"And after that, we'll go on to Japan...

...where we find the origins of the Beckoning Cat, or the manekineko as he is called in Japan. This cat, long long ago, stood in the door of the Gotoku-ji temple and raised her paw in the traditional Japanese beckoning gesture to a feudal lord who was passing by. The feudal lord followed the cat into the temple and instantly, a lightning bolt struck the place where the lord had been standing. Thus the cat had saved his life. From then on, the manekineko was considered as an incarnation of the Goddess of Mercy. The Gotoku-ji Temple now houses dozens of statues of this Cat, and owners of lost or sick cats stick up prayer boards with the image of the Beckoning Cat in this temple. In business the manekineko is said to bring success. This is because her raised paw beckons in customers. It also welcomes in personal happiness and harmony. A black Beckoning Cat brings health, while a gold one, which is quite rare, brings in riches. Beckoning Cats are often sold as money boxes and in a house they are supposed to beckon in good friends.

All photos except the one labelled "Manekinekos in cling film" were provided by Catseye Creative Services, whose website was available at http://www.2cowherd.net/catseye/ but seems to be now defunct.

"The cats in Noah's Ark...

...have been the subject of many folk legends. Such legends are not as well established as the previous mythological accounts referred to. Nevertheless, they are not less interesting. According to one of these, at the time of the flood, Noah took pairs of rats and mice too. However, the rodents multiplied very quickly and the Ark was, after a while, infested by rodents. Noah consulted the lion, who as king of the beasts may have known a solution. The lion sneezed and from his nostrils, a pair of ready made domestic cats came out, who instantly set down to work, having a natural instinct for being "verminators". Sometimes, it is said that God created the cat, but that the mouse is the Devil's work. The Devil's mouse set out to destroy all life forms by gnawing a hole in the Ark. However, God's cat saved the day by killing the mouse, and a frog crept in the hole, thus getting it's amphibian tendencies, by being in contact with water and dry wood simultaneously. Yet another Noah's Ark cat legend is that of the Manx cat, who has no tail because it was unpunctual in its arrival to the Ark, and the careless Noah closed it's tail in the door of the Ark. Well, after all he was only human, ey?
Corbin's page - cat legends and folklore

"Some even say that in the Australian Dreamtime... ..., when the ancestral spirits sang the world into existence, there was a catman called Ngariman. The Bagadjimbiri brothers, that is the Creator Gods of Karadjeri tradition, travelled far and wide while creating the world. One of the strange things they saw was Ngariman, the cat man, who in their eyes was so funny that they were paralysed with laughter. Ngariman was offended, and together with his relatives, killed the brothers. The Earth Goddess, Dilga was moved by this scene and from her breasts a torrent of milk flowed which drowned Ngariman and his relatives and revived the Bagadjimbiri brothers. However Ngariman was probably not a domestic cat, as those arrived in Australia around 1785 from Britain (though some may have arrived earlier from Indonesian ships). Rather, he was probably a native Australian marsupial cat (Vasyurus Maculatus). "Some other superstitions... ...concerning cats are the following: In the Ozark Mountains of Tennessee and Arkansas, a girl not knowing what to answer to a marraige proposal would take three hairs from a cat's tail (ouch!) and put them in a folded piece of

paper, which she placed under her doorstep. She would answer according to whether the hairs formed an "N" or a "Y". A cat on a grave meant that the buried person's soul was in the possession of the Devil, and if two cats were fighting on a grave, this signified the Devil and the defunct person's Guardian Angel fighting for his/her soul. In the early 16th century, a visitor to an English home would always kiss the family cat. In Ireland, however, a black cat passing infront of you by moonlight foretells death by an epidemic.

Cat Legends

Cat Legends
The letter M and the Tabby Cat
If you look closely on the forehead of the Tabby cat, you will notice the pattern which looks like the letter M. There are different legends about how the Tabby cat was marked with the letter M.

The Legend of The Virgin Mary, Jesus and the cat The Virgin Mary was exhausted after giving birth to Jesus in the stable of Bethlehem. She laid the baby boy down in a manger to sleep. As it turned out the baby boy Jesus was not able to sleep. This most certainly was not a comfortable place to rest. The straws itched and the noise from the animals in the stable kept him awake. A cat wondered in curious to find out

what all the commotion was about. The cat heard the cry of Jesus and jumped into the manger. Shortly after the baby Jesus was fast asleep cuddled up on the cat. The Virgin Mary lovingly stroked the cat on its forehead.

Ever since that day the Tabby cat has been marked with the M of Mary on its forehead.

The Legend of the Prophet Muhammad and the cat Legend has it that the Prophet Muhammad loved cats. As we all know it is a requirement that every Muslim has to respect the prayer requirement. It is one of the five pillars of Islam. It so happened that his cat named Muezza was sound asleep on the robe the Prophet Muhammad was wearing as the call to prayer sounded throughout the building. Instead of waking up the cat, the Prophet Muhammad carefully cut off the sleeve of his robe. The cat slept undisturbed as the Prophet wandered off to prayer. Ever since the Tabby cat has had the mark of the Prophet Muhammad on its forehead.

The Manx Cat The Manx cat originates from the Isle of Man, an island between Northern England and Ireland. The true Manx cat is famous for being tailless. There are several different legends telling the story about how the Manx cat became tailless.

Manx Cat Cat Legend 1

The cats were the last animal to board Noahs Ark. The two cats were preoccupied hunting mice and ignored Noahs urgent call to board the ark. When the rain started pouring down, the two cats finally realized it was high time to get on the Ark. The poor cats managed to enter the ark just as Noah was slamming the doors shut. Unfortunately their tails got stuck as the heavy doors were tightly shut. The cats were safe but tailless. Manx Cat Cat Legend 2 After the great flood all the animals on Noahs Ark were seemingly safe. The forty days together onboard the ark had not resulted in truce between the animals. The dogs and cats were constantly getting on each others nerves. At one time the cats and dogs got into a terrible clash. During the fight the dogs bit off the tail of the cats. The cats were so distressed they jumped out a window and stated swimming with the intention of getting as far away from the dogs as possible. The cats swam all the way to the Isle of Man. They were finally safe and sound. The tailless cats settled contentedly on the Isle of Man. Manx Cat Cat Legend 3 The horrible Vikings were responsible for making the cats tailless. The Viking came. They killed innocent people. They plundered and stole the valuables of the island. As that wasnt enough, the Vikings cut off the tails of the beautiful cats. They used the cat tails as ornaments on their helmets. The cats of the Isle of Man remained tailless.

The Siamese Cat Legend The magnificent Siamese cats have their origin in Siam, which is the older name of what is now Thailand. There are many legends about how the Siamese cat got a kinked tail and blue eyes. Legend 1 about the Siamese Cat Why the Siamese Cats have Blue Eyes At one time a temple where some Siamese cats resided was ambushed. The attackers drove the monks away and mistakenly thought they were free to rob the sacred alter from all its valuables. As the raiders approached the sacred alter they discovered the cats sitting guard in front of it. The cats threatened them with by showing their sharp teeth and claws. The sight was enough to frighten the raiders and they fled the temple in a hurry empty handed. When the monks returned to the temple they saw that the courageous cats now had blue eyes, the heavenly color. These heroic cats would forever reflect through their eyes that they had defended the sacred alter and thus saved the heavenly treasures.

Siamese Cats Secrets Revealed!

Click here to visit the website

Legend 2 Siamese Cat Legend A pair of Siamese cats resided at a temple. Unfortunately the priest at the temple was no good. He was constantly drunk. His job was to guard the sacred golden goblet once used by the Great Buddha. The priest did a poor job and had a tendency to disappear for days. The cats could not stand the situation anymore. The priest had again disappeared and the cats decided to take action. The male cat left the temple in search of a new holy man. The female cat stayed behind to guard the sacred goblet. The female cat stared continuously at the goblet, taking her assignment quite seriously. As a result her eyes got a permanent squint. After a while the female cat was exhausted. She then took the goblet and rapped her tail around it to keep it safe as she fell asleep. When the male cat returned with a new priest, they found the female cat still protecting the goblet with her tail.

To their amazement they also found she had given birth to five kittens. All the five kittens had squinted eyes and a curve on their tail.

The Golden Flower Kinkwa Neko - Japanese Cat Legend An old Japanese legend tells the story of female cats called Kinkwa Neko or Golden Flower. They had orange-colored fur. These cats were feared as they had magical powers. The Kinkwa Neko had the ability to transform themselves from a cat to a beautiful woman. It would not be so bad if it stopped there, but the worst was yet to come. The Kinkwa Neko devoured human beings. One story tells about a most unfortunate man who gave an orange-colored cat to his relatives. He was quite unaware that the cat was Kinkwa Neko in disguise. When he returned to visit his relatives the house was empty. On the floor he found torn rags and human bones scattered around the room.

The Legend of the Birman Cat The Sacred Cat of Burma

Long ago before the time of Buddha there was a temple in Burma where one hundred pure white cats resided. These white cats all had yellow eyes. The temple was known as the sacred Khmer temple and was located on Mount Lunh in Burma. These beautiful white cats guarded the most sacred and valuable image of the blue-eyed goddess named Tsun-Kyan-Kse. The power of this goddess was of utmost importance to the priests of the temple. When a priest died it was the goddess Tsun-KyanKse who ordered the soul of the dead priest to be transferred to one of the cats. It was believed the soul had to pass through a temple cat before it was able to continue the journey to heaven. This was only pathway to paradise. At one time the temple was threatened by barbarians from Siam. Mun-Ha was at that time the high priest of the temple. He was old and resting in front the golden image of the goddess in company of his favorite cat named Sinh. He was dying. At the moment of his death the cat Sinh had his paws on the head of the high priest. The other priests who were present were totally stunned as they witnessed the miracle in from of them.

The color of the Sinhs eyes changed from yellow to blue. The color of the cats fur changed from pure white to an earth-color, with the exception of the paws. The paws had been resting on the white hair of the high priest and remained white. The soul of the high priest had truly passed on and entered the cat. The priests of the temple then observed that this change had not only inflicted the cat Sinh, but every single cat at the temple. All the cats had suddenly changed as Sinh had. This was the miracle they needed to give them the courage to drive off the barbarians from Siam. The cat Sinh stayed close to the dead high priest for seven days. Sinh refused to eat and died one week later. The other cats then came in and formed a circle around a priest named Liao. There was no doubt about it. The sacred cats of the temple had appointed Liao to be the next high priest. Patripatan The Cat that went to Heaven India In Salangham there was a prince who owned a beautiful white cat. The prince of Salangham was inclined to send his cat to pick a flower from the heavenly tree. Upon arriving in heaven Patripatan simply loved the place and forgot all about the task. Three hundred years passed before Patripatan finally felt obliged to fulfill the assignment. Patripatan was given a branch full of gorgeous blooming flowers. Upon his return he found that the people had not aged one bit. The heavenly flowers Patripatan secured that the country was transformed to a place of beauty and tranquility.

King Arthur and the Cat

Once there was a fisherman who promised God to give him the first fish he caught in his fishing net. As it happened the first fish was large and grand looking. He could not bear to give it up. The second time he drew the fishing net up the same thing happened. The third time the fisherman hauled in the fishing net, he found a little black kitten in the net. The fisherman decided to keep the kitten and forgot all about his promise to God. As time went by, the cat grew. The black cat grew larger and larger. It seemed it would not stop growing. The cute little kitten had grown into a hideous and extremely ill tempered cat. The enormous cat was fierce and there was nothing anybody could do about it. As expected the gruesome cat killed the fisherman and his family. The cat moved into a cave and started terrorizing the nearby villages. Merlin and King Arthur were called to help. Together the two of them approached the cave. They lured the cat out. A dreadful and bloody fight came about. Eventually King Arthur managed to kill the cat. The mountain was always to be known as The Mountain of the Cat.

The Cat who Eats Children There is an old legend in Iceland about a family up in the mountains who are the descendants of the trolls. The parents are names Gryla and Leppaldi. They have thirteen quite mischievous children. The mother, Gryla was known to help herself to naughty human children and use them in her famous stew.

The thirteen kids, also known as the Yule Lads, arrive one at a time the thirteen days before Christmas to the homes of humans. Children leave a shoe on the window sill. If they have been good the Yule Lad will leave a small gift, if they have been bad the Yule Lad will put a potato in the shoe. The Yule Lads leave one day at a time the thirteen days following Christmas. The tradition continues to this day in Iceland. Gryla owns a frightful cat named Jlakatturinn. The cat is known to have a huge appetite for eating children, especially at Christmas time. The only thing that can save a child is something new to wear. The legend explains that only children who have not been lazy throughout the year receive new clothes and are thereby saved from becoming the next dinner for the gruesome cat.

Ccoa The Evil Cat Demon of South Peru

The legend of Ccoa is told in the Indian Quechua tribe in south Peru. Ccoa is a huge cat, almost three meters long and has dark stripes running down his fur. This evil cat has control over lightning and the hail. Ccoa has the power to ruin crops and wipe out humans. Offerings must be made to Ccoa on a regular basis to keep on the safe side. The Cactus Cat Legend Many stories were told about the cactus cat by the frontier men of the old American West during the 19th century. This was a fearsome animal indeed. It had front legs made up of shard blades of bones. The Cactus Cat used these front bones to slash the giant cacti and then it drank the sap. After drinking the sap the Cactus cat became quite intoxicated. Frightening screams from Cactus Cat could be heard during the night.