Etymology and naming
The word “cat” may have been derived from the Latin cattus or Egyptian kadīs. The Nubian word kaddîska “wildcat” and Nobiin kadīs are possible sources. The word may have been borrowed from Uralic, where it is possibly related to Hungarian héjja, Finnish kissa, and Estonian kass.
Puss- is of unknown origin, with earliest attestation dating back to 16th century. Puss- has been used for both male and female cats and in some contexts can be used as derogatory term for males who are not neutered. Male cats are called tomcats or gibs when unspayed, while females may be called queens if spayed. A group of cats can be referred to as a clowder or glaring.
Origins of the Domestic Cat
The domestic cat descended from a Middle Eastern wildcat, and Felis catus is the modern species of domesticated cats that we call “house cats.”
The history of the domestication of cats is a long and complicated one. Cats have been around for 10,000-12,000 years, and they began to be associated with humans when rodent populations increased in the Fertile Crescent from agriculture.
The domestication of cats began during the Neolithic period, and was most likely done through humans selecting for tameness in their offspring.
Cats are scavengers, adapting to eat whatever humans have left behind. They are incredibly resourceful creatures, and this has helped them thrive alongside humans for thousands of years.
Today, there are an estimated 600 million domestic cats around the world. They play an important role in our society, both as companions and as pest control agents. Thanks to their long history with us, we now know a great deal about these fascinating creatures!
What are cats? Main Characteristics
Size of Cats
Cats measure their length, height, weight and size relative to a man of equal height 6-foot.
Cats have various body types depending on the breed, but there are three main types. The domestic cats in the House Cat Family have evolved to be a lot smaller compared to the Wild Cat Family. In domestic cat breeds, bone density increases in the maxilla and mandibles, which indicates that they run more frequently compared to the Wild Cat Family.
For example, there are small cats that weigh 2-3 lbs while weight of domestic cats ranges between 4 – 5kg (~ 9 lbs).
Did you know that cats have claws? These sharp, protruding nails help cats climb, hunt, and defend themselves. Cats use their claws in a variety of ways:
When not in use, the claws are sheathed by the skin and fur around their toe pads. This protects both the cat and whatever it’s scratching.
A cat’s skeleton protects the soft parts of its body while allowing it to move quickly and gracefully. Its protruding claws also give it an edge when hunting prey or defending itself from predators or enemies.
Cats have five front paws, and four rear paws. The dewclaw is located proximally on the paw – right next to where a sixth “finger” would be located if cats had one of these extra digits!
Cats have a fondness for sitting in high places. Cats prefer trees when hunting, so they can get an elevated view of their prey. This gives them the advantage of being able to ambush their prey from a distance. In addition, cats can right themselves in a fall from a high place.
They are also able to land on their feet in falls of up to 2 meters (7.6 ft). This helps them survive without injury after falling from heights of up to 10 meters in height.
When it comes to their diet, cats need a high-protein diet in order to thrive. This is because cats have few taste buds and get most of their nutrition from smell. In fact, they can’t taste sugar, which means they have no sweet tooth. Instead, cats taste acids and proteins but not sweets. The mutation that makes cats’ taste buds respond to amino acids instead of sugars is what drives their specific food preference.
Cats also reject refrigerated food as it would signal prey to be long dead and possibly toxic or decomposing. However, they prefer food at 38 degrees Celsius which is similar to that of fresh kill.
How Cats Communicate
House cats communicate with scent posts. They use their urine to mark territory as well as to leave messages for other cats. For example, a cat that has just eaten will often urinate near the food dish to tell other cats that this is his or her food.
Cats also have a vocal repertoire that extends from purrr to screech. This allows them to convey a wide range of emotions, such as happiness, anger, frustration and fear.
How Cats Groom
Cats lick their fur to keep it clean. They have backward facing spines on their tongue, which are called papillae and act like a hairbrush. Cats occasionally regurgitate hairballs of fur from grooming. Hairballs can be prevented with remedies that ease elimination of the hair through the gut. The clumps of fur usually resemble a sausage shape and are about 2-3 cm in length. Regular grooming of your cat’s coat will help prevent hairballs.
How Cats Fight
Male domestic cats are more likely to fight than females. In general, fighting between two male cats is due to competition for a female cat, or over territory within a small home.
Neutering can reduce or eliminate this behavior in many cases. However, it is important to note that cats will typically only fight if their territory is threatened.
Cats use slaps to different parts of the body, bites, and defensive tactics like falling on their back to rake the belly of their opponent with their hind legs as ways of defending themselves during a fight.
Serious damage is rare because fights usually last less than a few minutes and are usually over quickly. However, serious injuries are most often caused by infections from bites which are the main route of transmission of FIV – a virus that can kill cats without treatment if left untreated.
How Cats Hunt
Cats are natural hunters and, as a result, have developed certain skills that help them stalk and capture prey. Some of these abilities include:
- Hunting instincts – Cats are instinctively driven to hunt and kill prey.
- Prey detection – Cats have an outstanding sense of smell which allows them to detect their prey from long distances.
- Agility and balance – Cats are nimble and agile, able to move quickly in pursuit of their prey. They also have an excellent sense of balance, allowing them to jump great distances and climb trees easily.
- Sharp claws and teeth – Cats’ sharp claws and teeth give them a deadly edge when hunting prey.
- Tongue-based drinking – Unlike most other animals, cats lack the necessary suction capabilities in their cheeks needed to drink water normally. So instead, they use their tongues which helps them lick up water more quickly.
- Sensitivity to taste and texture – In addition to having a strong sense of smell, cats also have a heightened sensitivity to taste and texture which helps them determine what is safe to eat.
How Cats Play
Cats, especially young kittens, are known for their love of play. Play fighting may be a way for cats to practice skills necessary for real combat activities and might reduce fear associated with attacking other animals. In fact, some scientists believe that cats use these “fights” as training so they will be better prepared when it comes time to defend themselves or hunt prey.
Cats often prefer to play with objects that resemble prey. String can become caught at the base of the cat’s tongue and then move into the intestines, which is a medical emergency.
As you may know, cats reproduce quite a bit. In fact, a female cat can mate with more than one male and have multiple litters in a year. The gestation period for cats is nine weeks, and they typically give birth to three kittens per litter. Kittens are usually weaned at six or seven weeks of age and reach sexual maturity at 5-10 months for females and 5-7 months for males.
While it’s important to spay or neuter your cat to prevent them from having too many kittens, did you know that there are other benefits to doing so? For instance, neutering a cat before puberty can reduce their risk of developing certain behaviors such as aggression or territory marking and yowling later in life by 50%.
Additionally, cats make the best friends – they’re independent animals who require mental stimulation – without being overly affectionate or sweet. So if you’re looking for an animal companion who will keep you company without requiring constant attention, then a cat is the perfect pet for you!
Cat Health and Common Cat Diseases
There are a number of common diseases that can affect cats, including: cat scratch disease, roundworms, toxoplasmosis, rabies, campylobacteriosis, salmonellosis, cryptosporidiosis (crypto), giardiasis , hookworm , MRSA , plague and ringworm .
Cats can also be affected by tickborne diseases and sporotrichosis.
The Relationship between Cats and Humans
History and mythology
Cats have been around for a long time – in fact, they were worshipped in ancient Egypt. The Egyptians took their cats to the sacred city of Bubastis, where they would be embalmed and buried with full religious ceremony. Herodotus was surprised to see domesticated cats in Ancient Egypt, because he only ever saw wildcats before then.
Humans have had cats as pets for thousands of years – the ancient Greeks and Romans acted as the earliest evidence of domestication, with coins dating to around 500 BC showing two founders playing with their cats. Cats were introduced to Europe by the Greeks, who saw them as a symbol of sexual desire. In fact, one of Athens’ nicknames is “the city that loves cats.”
Cats are associated with some negative associations in ancient Greek religion, such as Artemis and Diana; however, Freyja is known as the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility; she is depicted riding a chariot drawn by cats.
Cats have been drawn to humans since the Middle Ages – often being featured in icons of Annunciation and Holy Family. In fact, there is even an entire church dedicated to Mary’s cat-like appearance called Santa Maria della Catena.
Muslims revere cats as well – Muhammad having a favorite cat named Muezza. The story of the first cat has no origin in early Muslim writers, but the first documented reference to a cat being loved by one of Muhammad’s companions comes from Abu Hurayrah (one of the companions of Muhammad).
The ancient Egyptians mummified cats in the same way as they did people. In fact, there are even entire museums dedicated to Egyptian feline-related artifacts.
Superstitions and rituals
There are many superstitions about cats in different cultures, with the most common being that they’re witches’ familiars used to augment their powers and skills. For example, black cats are associated with good luck in some cultures, but bad luck in others.
Cats have also been burned alive as a form of entertainment. The custom to burn cats started during the Middle Ages, with wealthy people most likely enjoying the spectacle more than others because they could afford to own multiple cats.
In France, there was a midsummer bonfire tradition where cats were burned alive. This custom dates back to the 16th century and it’s believed that cats come back from the dead six times. Some countries believe that cats have nine lives while others believe they only have seven.
Despite all these myths and superstitions, there is no evidence to support the claim that cats are more likely to survive falls than humans.
If you’re in the market for a new cat, you may be wondering what cat breeds are best for families. The good news is that there are many different breeds to choose from. Here’s a brief guide to some of the most popular and interesting choices.
The origin of cat breeds is disputed. Various breeds have a history that reflects different geographical regions and cultures. However, many of today’s popular cat breeds are related to randomly bred cats that were brought to a certain country.
The Southeast Asian breeds have strong links with random bred cats in Vietnam, China, Korea, and Singapore. In the United States, the Siberian cat is a relatively new breed, while the Havana Brown belongs to an entirely different breed. However, most European cat breed associations consider this coloration a shade of the Siamese.
The ancient history of domestication reveals that domestic cats derived from the African wildcat. This genetic variation has only been detected in recent decades, but it is enough to support the theory that domestic cats are descended from an ancient African wildcat.
Although cat breeding is not a new concept, the method of selective breeding has a limited history and has led to distinct subpopulations of cats. For example, the North American Bobtail is much more similar to an African wildcat, while the European Bobtail and Persian are closer to European and Asian cats.