|Common Name||Domestic Cat and Housecats|
The domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus or Felis catus) is a small, typically furry, carnivorous mammal. They are often called house cats when kept as indoor pets or simply cats when there is no need to distinguish them from other felids and felines. They are often valued by humans for companionship and for their ability to hunt vermin. There are more than seventy cat breeds recognized by various cat registries.
Nomenclature and etymologyEdit
The origin of the English word cat (Old English catt) and its counterparts in other Germanic languages (such as German Katze), descended from Proto-Germanic *kattōn-, is controversial. It has traditionally thought to be a borrowing from Late Latin cattus "domestic cat", from catta(used around 75 AD by Martial), compare also Byzantine Greek κάττα, Portuguese and Spanish gato, French chat, Maltese qattus, Lithuanian katė, and Old Church Slavonic kotъ (kotka), among others. The Late Latin word is generally thought to originate from an Afro-Asiatic language, but every proposed source word has presented problems. Many references refer to "Berber" (Kabyle) kaddîska "wildcat" and "Nubian kadīs" as possible sources or cognates, but M. Lionel Bender says the Nubian term is a loan from Arabic قِطَّة qiṭṭa. Jean-Paul Savignac suggests the Latin word is from an Egyptian precursor of Coptic ϣⲁⲩ (šau) "tomcat" or its feminine form suffixed with -t, but John Huehnergard says "the source [...] was clearly not Egyptian itself, where no analogous form is attested." Huehnergard opines it is "equally likely that the forms might derive from an ancient Germanic word, imported into Latin and thence to Greek and to Syriac and Arabic". Guus Kroonen also considers the word to be native to Germanic (due to morphological alternations) and Northern Europe, and suggests that it might ultimately be borrowed from Uralic, cf. Northern Sami gađfe "female stoat" and Hungarian hölgy "stoat; lady, bride" from Proto-Uralic *käďwä "female (of a fur animal)". In any case, cat is a classic case of a Wanderwort.
Taxonomy and evolutionEdit
The domestic cat is believed to have evolved from the Near Eastern wildcat, whose range covers vast portions of the Middle East westward to the Atlantic coast of Africa. Between 70,000 and 100,000 years ago the animal gave rise to the genetic lineage that eventually produced all domesticated cats, having diverged from the Near Eastern wildcat around 8,000 BC in the Middle East.
The domesticated cat and its closest wild ancestor are both diploid organisms that possess 38 chromosomes and roughly 20,000 genes. About 250 heritable genetic disorders have been identified in cats, many similar to human inborn errors. The high level of similarity among the metabolism 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 as animal models in the study of the human diseases.
Domestic cats are similar in size to the other members of the genus Felis, typically weighing between 4 and 5 kg (9 and 10 lb) Some breeds, such as the Maine Coon, can occasionally exceed 11 kg (24 lb). Conversely, very small cats, less than 2 kg (4 lb), have been reported. The world record for the largest cat is 21 kg (50 lb). The smallest adult cat ever officially recorded weighed around 1 kg (2 lb). Feral cats tend to be lighter as they have more limited access to food than house cats. In the Boston area, the average feral adult male will weigh 4 kg (9 lb) and average feral female 3 kg (7 lb). Cats average about 23–25 cm (9–10 in) in height and 46 cm (18 in) in head/body length (males being larger than females), with tails averaging 30 cm (12 in) in length.
Cats are familiar and easily kept animals, and their physiology has been particularly well studied; it generally resembles those of other carnivorous mammals, but displays several unusual features probably attributable to cats' descent from desert-dwelling species. For instance, cats are able to tolerate quite high temperatures: Humans generally start to feel uncomfortable when their skin temperature passes about 38 °C (100 °F), but cats show no discomfort until their skin reaches around 52 °C (126 °F), and can tolerate temperatures of up to 56 °C (133 °F) if they have access to water.
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. This is because their livers are less effective at some forms of detoxification than those of other animals, including humans and dogs. Some of the most common causes of poisoning in cats are antifreeze and rodent baits. It has also been suggested that cats may be particularly sensitive to environmental pollutants. When a cat has a sudden or prolonged serious illness without any obvious cause, it is 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. 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. 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. 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.
Free-ranging cats are active both day and night, although they tend to be slightly more active at night. 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. House cats have territories that vary considerably in size, in one study ranging from seven to 28 hectares (69 acres). 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. Cats conserve energy by sleeping more than most animals, especially as they grow older. The daily duration of sleep varies, usually 12–16 hours, with 13–14 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 lexicon—someone 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.
Hunting and feedingEdit
Cats usually hunt Mice or small birds. At home, they eat standard cat food.
Cats love to play with cat toys.
Impact on prey speciesEdit
Impact on birdsEdit
Cats and humansEdit
Cats are very good around humans. They purr when they are happy or are trying to calm down. They meow when they are threatened.