The cat (''Felis catus'') is a domestic
In biology, a species is the basic unit of classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individuals of the appropriate ...
A carnivore , or meat-eater (Latin, ''caro'', genitive ''carnis'', meaning meat or "flesh" and ''vorare'' meaning "to devour"), is an animal or plant whose food and energy requirements derive from animal tissues (mainly muscle, fat and other so ... mammal
Mammals () are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class Mammalia (), characterized by the presence of mammary glands which in females produce milk for feeding (nursing) their young, a neocortex (a region of the brain), fu ...
It is the only domesticated species in the family
Felidae () is the family of mammals in the order Carnivora colloquially referred to as cats, and constitutes a clade. A member of this family is also called a felid (). The term "cat" refers both to felids in general and specifically to the ...
and is commonly referred to as the domestic cat or house cat to distinguish it from the wild members of the family.
Cats are commonly kept as house pets but can also be farm cat
A feral cat or a stray cat is an unowned domestic cat (''Felis catus'') that lives outdoors and avoids human contact: it does not allow itself to be handled or touched, and usually remains hidden from humans. Feral cats may breed over dozens ...
s; the feral cat ranges freely and avoids human contact.
Domestic cats are valued by humans for companionship and their ability to kill
Rodents (from Latin , 'to gnaw') are mammals of the order Rodentia (), which are characterized by a single pair of continuously growing incisors in each of the upper and lower jaws. About 40% of all mammal species are rodents. They are n ...
s. About 60
The following list of cat breeds includes only domestic cat breeds and domestic and wild hybrids. The list includes established breeds recognized by various cat registries, new and experimental breeds, landraces being established as standardize ...
are recognized by various
A cat registry or cat breed registry, also known as a cat fancier organization, cattery federation, or cat breeders' association, is an organization that registers domestic cats (usually purebred) of many breeds, for exhibition and for breedi ...
The cat is similar in
Anatomy () is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organisms and their parts. Anatomy is a branch of natural science that deals with the structural organization of living things. It is an old science, having it ...
to the other felid species: they have a strong flexible body, quick
In biology, a reflex, or reflex action, is an involuntary, unplanned sequence or action and nearly instantaneous response to a stimulus.
Reflexes are found with varying levels of complexity in organisms with a nervous system. A reflex occurs ...
, sharp teeth, and retractable claws
adapted to killing small prey. Their
Night vision is the ability to see in low-light conditions, either naturally with scotopic vision or through a night-vision device. Night vision requires both sufficient spectral range and sufficient intensity range. Humans have poor night ...
and sense of smell are well developed.
Cats need to communicate with each other for bonding, and relating with each other; they need to collaborate, play, and share resources. When they communicate with people, they do so to get what they need or want, such as food, affection, or p ...
A meow or miaow is a cat vocalization. ''Meows'' may have diverse tones and are sometimes chattered, murmured or whispered. Adult cats rarely meow to each other, so an adult cat meowing to human beings is probably a post-domestication extens ...
A purr is a tonal fluttering sound made by some species of felids and two species of genets. It varies in loudness and tone among species and in the same animal. Felids are a family of mammals that belong to the order Carnivora and are inf ...
ing, trilling, hissing,
Growling is a low, guttural vocalization produced by animals as an aggressive warning but can also be found in other contexts such as playful behaviors or mating. Different animals will use growling in specific contexts as a form of communicat ...
, and grunting as well as cat-specific body language
. Although the cat is a
Sociality is the degree to which individuals in an animal population tend to associate in social groups (gregariousness) and form cooperative societies.
Sociality is a survival response to evolutionary pressures. For example, when a mother wa ...
, they are a solitary hunter. As a
Predation is a biological interaction where one organism, the predator, kills and eats another organism, its prey. It is one of a family of common feeding behaviours that includes parasitism and micropredation (which usually do not kill ...
, they are
In zoology, a crepuscular animal is one that is active primarily during the twilight period, being matutinal, vespertine, or both. This is distinguished from diurnal and nocturnal behavior, where an animal is active during the hours of dayli ...
, i.e. most active at dawn and dusk. They can hear sounds too faint or too high in
Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time. It is also occasionally referred to as ''temporal frequency'' for clarity, and is distinct from '' angular frequency''. Frequency is measured in hertz (Hz) which is ...
for human ears, such as those made by
A mouse ( : mice) is a small rodent. Characteristically, mice are known to have a pointed snout, small rounded ears, a body-length scaly tail, and a high breeding rate. The best known mouse species is the common house mouse (''Mus musculus'' ...
and other small mammals.
They also secretes and perceive pheromones
Female domestic cats can have kittens from spring to late autumn, with litter sizes often ranging from two to five kittens.
Domestic cats are bred and shown at events as registered pedigreed cat
s, a hobby known as cat fancy
. Population control
of cats may be affected by
Neutering, from the Latin ''neuter'' ('of neither sex'), is the removal of an animal's reproductive organ, either all of it or a considerably large part. The male-specific term is castration, while spaying is usually reserved for female animals. ...
Neutering, from the Latin ''neuter'' ('of neither sex'), is the removal of an animal's reproductive organ, either all of it or a considerably large part. The male-specific term is castration, while spaying is usually reserved for female animals. ...
, but their proliferation and the abandonment of pets has resulted in large numbers of feral cats worldwide, contributing to the extinction of entire bird, mammal, and reptile species.
It was long thought that cat domestication began in ancient Egypt
, where cats were venerated
from around 3100 BC, but recent advances in archaeology and genetics have shown that their domestication occurred in
Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion of the larger geographical region of Asia, as defined by some academics, UN bodies and other institutions. It is almost entirely a part of the Middle East, and includes An ...
around 7500 BC.
there were an estimated 220 million owned and 480 million stray cats in the world. the domestic cat was the second most popular pet in the
The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major unincorporated territor ...
, with 95.6 million cats owned
and around 42 million households owning at least one cat. In the
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotland, Wales and North ...
, 26% of adults have a cat, with an estimated population of 10.9 million pet cats
Etymology and naming
The origin of the English word ''cat'',
Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers in the mid-5th ...
, is thought to be the
Late Latin ( la, Latinitas serior) is the scholarly name for the form of Literary Latin of late antiquity.Roberts (1996), p. 537. English dictionary definitions of Late Latin date this period from the , and continuing into the 7th century in t ...
word , which was first used at the beginning of the 6th century. It was suggested that is derived from an Egyptian
precursor of Coptic
, "tomcat", or its feminine form suffixed with . The Late Latin word may be derived from another
The Afroasiatic languages (or Afro-Asiatic), also known as Hamito-Semitic, or Semito-Hamitic, and sometimes also as Afrasian, Erythraean or Lisramic, are a language family of about 300 languages that are spoken predominantly in the geographic su ...
The Nilo-Saharan languages are a proposed family of African languages spoken by some 50–60 million people, mainly in the upper parts of the Chari and Nile rivers, including historic Nubia, north of where the two tributaries of the Nile meet. ...
Nubian may refer to:
*Something of, from, or related to Nubia
Nubia () ( Nobiin: Nobīn, ) is a region along the Nile river encompassing the area between the first cataract of the Nile (just south of Aswan in southern Egypt) and the confl ...
word "wildcat" and Nobiin
are possible sources or cognates. The Nubian word may be a loan from
Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C. E.Watson; Walte ...
However, 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". The word may be derived from Germanic and Northern European languages, and ultimately be borrowed from Uralic
, cf. Northern Sami
The stoat (''Mustela erminea''), also known as the Eurasian ermine, Beringian ermine and ermine, is a mustelid native to Eurasia and the northern portions of North America. Because of its wide circumpolar distribution, it is listed as Least Co ...
", and Hungarian
, "lady, female stoat"; from Proto-Uralic
''*käďwä'', "female (of a furred animal)".
The English '' puss
'', extended as ''pussy'' and ''pussycat'', is attested from the 16th century and may have been introduced from Dutch
Low German or Low Saxon (in the language itself: , and other names; german: Plattdeutsch, ) is a West Germanic language variety spoken mainly in Northern Germany and the northeastern part of the Netherlands. The dialect of Plautdietsch is als ...
, related to Swedish
, or Norwegian
, . Similar forms exist in Lithuanian and Irish
or . The etymology of this word is unknown, but it may have arisen from a sound
used to attract a cat.
A male cat is called a ''tom'' or ''tomcat'' (or a ''gib'', if neutered). An unspayed
female is called a ''queen'' (or a ''molly'', if spayed), especially in a cat-breeding context. A juvenile cat is referred to as a '' kitten
Early Modern English
Early Modern English or Early New English (sometimes abbreviated EModE, EMnE, or ENE) is the stage of the English language from the beginning of the Tudor period to the English Interregnum and Restoration, or from the transition from Middle ...
, the word ''kitten'' was interchangeable with the now-obsolete word ''catling''. A group of cats can be referred to as a ''clowder'' or a ''glaring''.
In taxonomy, binomial nomenclature ("two-term naming system"), also called nomenclature ("two-name naming system") or binary nomenclature, is a formal system of naming species of living things by giving each a name composed of two parts, bo ...
''Felis catus'' was proposed by
Carl Linnaeus (; 23 May 1707 – 10 January 1778), also known after his ennoblement in 1761 as Carl von Linné Blunt (2004), p. 171. (), was a Swedish botanist, zoologist, taxonomist, and physician who formalised binomial nomenclature ...
in 1758 for a domestic cat.
''Felis catus domesticus'' was proposed by Johann Christian Polycarp Erxleben
[ ''Felis daemon'' proposed by Konstantin Alekseevich Satunin in 1904 was a black cat from the Transcaucasus, later identified as a domestic cat.
In 2003, the ] International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature
The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) is an organization dedicated to "achieving stability and sense in the scientific naming of animals". Founded in 1895, it currently comprises 26 commissioners from 20 countries.
Orga ... ruled that the domestic cat is a distinct species, namely ''Felis catus''.
In 2007, it was considered a subspecies
In biological classification, subspecies is a rank below species, used for populations that live in different areas and vary in size, shape, or other physical characteristics ( morphology), but that can successfully interbreed. Not all speci ..., ''F. silvestris catus'', of the European wildcat
The European wildcat (''Felis silvestris'') is a small wildcat species native to continental Europe, Scotland, Turkey and the Caucasus. It inhabits forests from the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Central and Eastern Europe to the Caucasus. Its fur ... (''F. silvestris'') following results of phylogenetic
In biology, phylogenetics (; from Greek φυλή/ φῦλον  "tribe, clan, race", and wikt:γενετικός, γενετικός  "origin, source, birth") is the study of the evolutionary history and relationships among or within groups ... research. In 2017, the IUCN Cat Classification Taskforce followed the recommendation of the ICZN in regarding the domestic cat as a distinct species, ''Felis catus''.
The domestic cat is a member of the Felidae, a
Family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of the family is to maintain the well-being of its members and of society. Idea ... that had a common ancestor
Common descent is a concept in evolutionary biology applicable when one species is the ancestor of two or more species later in time. All living beings are in fact descendants of a unique ancestor commonly referred to as the last universal comm ... about 10–15 million years ago.
Genus ( plural genera ) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms as well as viruses. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family. In binomial n ... ''Felis'' diverged from other Felidae around 6–7 million years ago. Results of phylogenetic
In biology, phylogenetics (; from Greek φυλή/ φῦλον  "tribe, clan, race", and wikt:γενετικός, γενετικός  "origin, source, birth") is the study of the evolutionary history and relationships among or within groups ... research confirm that the wild ''Felis'' species evolved through sympatric
In biology, two related species or populations are considered sympatric when they exist in the same geographic area and thus frequently encounter one another. An initially interbreeding population that splits into two or more distinct species s ... or parapatric speciation, whereas the domestic cat evolved through artificial selection
Selective breeding (also called artificial selection) is the process by which humans use animal breeding and plant breeding to selectively develop particular phenotypic traits (characteristics) by choosing which typically animal or plant m .... The domesticated cat and its closest wild ancestor are diploid
Ploidy () is the number of complete sets of chromosomes in a cell, and hence the number of possible alleles for autosomal and pseudoautosomal genes. Sets of chromosomes refer to the number of maternal and paternal chromosome copies, respecti ... and both possess 38 chromosome
A chromosome is a long DNA molecule with part or all of the genetic material of an organism. In most chromosomes the very long thin DNA fibers are coated with packaging proteins; in eukaryotic cells the most important of these proteins ar ...s and roughly 20,000 genes. The leopard cat
The leopard cat (''Prionailurus bengalensis'') is a small wild cat native to continental South, Southeast, and East Asia. Since 2002 it has been listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List as it is widely distributed although threatened by h ... (''Prionailurus bengalensis'') was tamed independently in China around 5500 BC. This line of partially domesticated cats leaves no trace in the domestic cat populations of today.
The earliest known indication for the taming of an
The African wildcat (''Felis lybica'') is a small wildcat species native to Africa, West and Central Asia up to Rajasthan in India and Xinjiang in China. It has been listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List in 2022.
In Cyprus, an Africa ... (''F. lybica'') was excavated close by a human Neolithic
The Neolithic period, or New Stone Age, is an Old World archaeological period and the final division of the Stone Age. It saw the Neolithic Revolution, a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several p ... grave in Shillourokambos, southern Cyprus
Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country located south of the Anatolian Peninsula in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Its continental position is disputed; while it is g ..., dating to about 7500–7200 BC. Since there is no evidence of native mammalian fauna
Fauna is all of the animal life present in a particular region or time. The corresponding term for plants is '' flora'', and for fungi, it is '' funga''. Flora, fauna, funga and other forms of life are collectively referred to as '' biota''. Z ... on Cyprus, the inhabitants of this Neolithic village most likely brought the cat and other wild mammals to the island from the Middle East
The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233: ) is a geopolitical region commonly encompassing Arabia (including the Arabian Peninsula and Bahrain), Asia Minor (Asian part of Turkey except Hatay Province), East Thrace (Eu ...ern mainland. Scientists therefore assume that African wildcats were attracted to early human settlements in the Fertile Crescent
The Fertile Crescent ( ar, الهلال الخصيب) is a crescent-shaped region in the Middle East, spanning modern-day Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Jordan, together with the northern region of Kuwait, southeastern region of ... by rodents, in particular the house mouse
The house mouse (''Mus musculus'') is a small mammal of the order Rodentia, characteristically having a pointed snout, large rounded ears, and a long and almost hairless tail. It is one of the most abundant species of the genus '' Mus''. Although ... (''Mus musculus''), and were tamed by Neolithic farmers. This mutual relationship between early farmers and tamed cats lasted thousands of years. As agricultural practices spread, so did tame and domesticated cats. [ Wildcats of Egypt contributed to the maternal ] gene pool
The gene pool is the set of all genes, or genetic information, in any population, usually of a particular species.
A large gene pool indicates extensive genetic diversity, which is associated with robust populations that can surv ... of the domestic cat at a later time.
The earliest known evidence for the occurrence of the domestic cat in Greece
Greece,, or , romanized: ', officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country in Southeast Europe. It is situated on the southern tip of the Balkans, and is located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Greece shares land borders wi ... dates to around 1200 BC. Greek, Phoenicia
Phoenicia () was an ancient thalassocratic civilization originating in the Levant region of the eastern Mediterranean, primarily located in modern Lebanon. The territory of the Phoenician city-states extended and shrank throughout their hist ...n, Carthaginian and Etrusca
The Etruscan civilization () was developed by a people of Etruria in ancient Italy with a common language and culture who formed a federation of city-states. After conquering adjacent lands, its territory covered, at its greatest extent, rough ...n traders introduced domestic cats to southern Europe. During the Roman Empire
The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post- Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings around the Mediter ... they were introduced to Corsica
Corsica ( , Upper , Southern ; it, Corsica; ; french: Corse ; lij, Còrsega; sc, Còssiga) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 18 regions of France. It is the fourth-largest island in the Mediterranean and lies southeast of ... and Sardinia
Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna, label= Italian, Corsican and Tabarchino ; sc, Sardigna , sdc, Sardhigna; french: Sardaigne; sdn, Saldigna; ca, Sardenya, label= Algherese and Catalan) is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, a ... before the beginning of the 1st millennium. By the 5th century BC, they were familiar animals around settlements in Magna Graecia
Magna Graecia (, ; , , grc, Μεγάλη Ἑλλάς, ', it, Magna Grecia) was the name given by the Romans to the coastal areas of Southern Italy in the present-day Italian regions of Calabria, Apulia, Basilicata, Campania and Sicily; th ... and Etruria
Etruria () was a region of Central Italy, located in an area that covered part of what are now most of Tuscany, northern Lazio, and northern and western Umbria.
The ancient people of Etruria
are identified as Etruscans. Th .... By the end of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, the Egyptian domestic cat lineage had arrived in a Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that is enclosed by Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Sweden and the North and Central European Plain.
The sea stretches from 53°N to 66°N latitude and ... port in northern Germany
Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is situated betwe ....
During domestication, cats have undergone only minor changes in anatomy and behavior, and they are still capable of surviving in the wild. Several natural behaviors and characteristics of wildcats may have pre-adapted them for domestication as pets. These traits include their small size, social nature, obvious body language, love of play and relatively high intelligence. Captive '' Leopardus'' cats may also display affectionate behavior toward humans but were not domesticated. House cats often mate with feral cats. Hybridisation between domestic and other Felinae species is also possible, producing hybrids such as the Kellas cat in Scotland
Scotland (, ) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a border with England to the southeast and is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean t ....
Development of cat breeds
The following list of cat breeds includes only domestic cat breeds and domestic and wild hybrids. The list includes established breeds recognized by various cat registries, new and experimental breeds, landraces being established as standardize ... started in the mid 19th century. An analysis of the domestic cat genome
In the fields of molecular biology and genetics, a genome is all the genetic information of an organism. It consists of nucleotide sequences of DNA (or RNA in RNA viruses). The nuclear genome includes protein-coding genes and non-coding g ... revealed that the ancestral wildcat genome was significantly altered in the process of domestication, as specific mutation
In biology, a mutation is an alteration in the nucleic acid sequence of the genome of an organism, virus, or extrachromosomal DNA. Viral genomes contain either DNA or RNA. Mutations result from errors during DNA or viral replication, ...s were selected to develop cat breeds. Most breeds are founded on random-bred domestic cats. Genetic diversity
Genetic diversity is the total number of genetic characteristics in the genetic makeup of a species, it ranges widely from the number of species to differences within species and can be attributed to the span of survival for a species. It is dis ... of these breeds varies between regions, and is lowest in purebred populations, which show more than 20 deleterious genetic disorder
A genetic disorder is a health problem caused by one or more abnormalities in the genome. It can be caused by a mutation in a single gene (monogenic) or multiple genes (polygenic) or by a chromosomal abnormality. Although polygenic disorders ...s.
The domestic cat has a smaller
The skull is a bone protective cavity for the brain. The skull is composed of four types of bone i.e., cranial bones, facial bones, ear ossicles and hyoid bone. However two parts are more prominent: the cranium and the mandible. In humans, t ... and shorter bones than the European wildcat
The European wildcat (''Felis silvestris'') is a small wildcat species native to continental Europe, Scotland, Turkey and the Caucasus. It inhabits forests from the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Central and Eastern Europe to the Caucasus. Its fur ....
It averages about in head-to-body length and in height, with about long tails. Males are larger than females.
Adult domestic cats typically weigh between .
Cats have seven
In tetrapods, cervical vertebrae (singular: vertebra) are the vertebrae of the neck, immediately below the skull. Truncal vertebrae (divided into thoracic and lumbar vertebrae in mammals) lie caudal (toward the tail) of cervical vertebrae. In sa ... (as do most mammals
Mammals () are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class Mammalia (), characterized by the presence of mammary glands which in females produce milk for feeding (nursing) their young, a neocortex (a region of the brain), fu ...); 13 thoracic vertebrae
In vertebrates, thoracic vertebrae compose the middle segment of the vertebral column, between the cervical vertebrae and the lumbar vertebrae. In humans, there are twelve thoracic vertebrae and they are intermediate in size between the cervica ... (humans have 12); seven lumbar vertebrae
The lumbar vertebrae are, in human anatomy, the five vertebrae between the rib cage and the pelvis. They are the largest segments of the vertebral column and are characterized by the absence of the foramen transversarium within the transver ... (humans have five); three sacral vertebrae
The sacrum (plural: ''sacra'' or ''sacrums''), in human anatomy, is a large, triangular bone at the base of the spine that forms by the fusing of the sacral vertebrae (S1S5) between ages 18 and 30.
The sacrum situates at the upper, back part ... (as do most mammals, but humans have five); and a variable number of caudal vertebrae
The spinal column, a defining synapomorphy shared by nearly all vertebrates, Hagfish are believed to have secondarily lost their spinal column is a moderately flexible series of vertebrae (singular vertebra), each constituting a characteristi ... in the tail (humans have only three to five vestigial caudal vertebrae, fused into an internal coccyx
The coccyx ( : coccyges or coccyxes), commonly referred to as the tailbone, is the final segment of the vertebral column in all apes, and analogous structures in certain other mammals such as horses. In tailless primates (e.g. humans and ot ...). 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
The pelvis (plural pelves or pelvises) is the lower part of the trunk, between the abdomen and the thighs (sometimes also called pelvic region), together with its embedded skeleton (sometimes also called bony pelvis, or pelvic skeleton).
The .... Unlike human arms, cat forelimbs are attached to the shoulder by free-floating clavicle
The clavicle, or collarbone, is a slender, S-shaped long bone approximately 6 inches (15 cm) long that serves as a strut between the shoulder blade and the sternum (breastbone). There are two clavicles, one on the left and one on the ri ... bones which allow them to pass their body through any space into which they can fit their head.
The cat skull is unusual among mammals in having very large eye sockets and a powerful specialized jaw.
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
In mammalian oral anatomy, the canine teeth, also called cuspids, dog teeth, or (in the context of the upper jaw) fangs, eye teeth, vampire teeth, or vampire fangs, are the relatively long, pointed teeth. They can appear more flattened however ..., inserting them between two of the prey's vertebra
The spinal column, a defining synapomorphy shared by nearly all vertebrates, Hagfish are believed to have secondarily lost their spinal column is a moderately flexible series of vertebrae (singular vertebra), each constituting a characterist ...e and severing its spinal cord
The spinal cord is a long, thin, tubular structure made up of nervous tissue, which extends from the medulla oblongata in the brainstem to the lumbar region of the vertebral column (backbone). The backbone encloses the central canal of the sp ..., causing irreversible paralysis
Paralysis (also known as plegia) is a loss of motor function in one or more muscles. Paralysis can also be accompanied by a loss of feeling (sensory loss) in the affected area if there is sensory damage. In the United States, roughly 1 in 5 ... and death. Compared to other felines, domestic cats have narrowly spaced canine teeth relative to the size of their jaw, which is an adaptation to their preferred prey of small rodents, which have small vertebrae.
The premolars, also called premolar teeth
A tooth (plural, : teeth) is a hard, calcification, calcified structure found in the jaws (or mouths) of many vertebrates and used to Mastication, break down food. Some animals, particularly carnivore ... and first molar together compose the carnassial
Carnassials are paired upper and lower teeth modified in such a way as to allow enlarged and often self-sharpening edges to pass by each other in a shearing manner. This adaptation is found in carnivorans, where the carnassials are the modified ... 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, and cats are largely incapable of mastication. Although cats tend to have better teeth than most humans, with decay generally less likely because of a thicker protective layer of enamel, a less damaging saliva, less retention of food particles between teeth, and a diet mostly devoid of sugar, they are nonetheless subject to occasional tooth loss and infection.
Cats have protractible and retractable claws.
In their normal, relaxed position, the claws are sheathed with the skin and fur around the paw's toe pads. This keeps the claws sharp by preventing wear from contact with the ground and allows for the silent stalking of prey. The claws on the forefeet are typically sharper than those on the hindfeet. 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. Cats shed the outside layer of their claw sheaths when scratching rough surfaces.
Most cats have five claws on their front paws and four on their rear paws. The dewclaw
A dewclaw is a digit – vestigial in some animals – on the foot of many mammals, birds, and reptiles (including some extinct orders, like certain theropods). It commonly grows higher on the leg than the rest of the foot, such that in dig ... is proximal
Standard anatomical terms of location are used to unambiguously describe the anatomy of animals, including humans. The terms, typically derived from Latin or Greek roots, describe something in its standard anatomical position. This position pr ... to the other claws. More proximally is a protrusion which appears to be a sixth "finger". This special feature of the front paws on the inside of the wrists has no function in normal walking but is thought to be an antiskidding device used while jumping. Some cat breeds are prone to having extra digits (" polydactyly
Polydactyly or polydactylism (), also known as hyperdactyly, is an anomaly in humans and animals resulting in supernumerary fingers and/or toes. Polydactyly is the opposite of oligodactyly (fewer fingers or toes).
Signs and symptoms
In huma ..."). Polydactylous cats occur along North America's northeast coast and in Great Britain.
The cat is
In terrestrial vertebrates, digitigrade () locomotion is walking or running on the toes (from the Latin ''digitus'', 'finger', and ''gradior'', 'walk'). A digitigrade animal is one that stands or walks with its toes (metatarsals) touching the groun .... It walks on the toes, with the bones of the feet making up the lower part of the visible leg. Unlike most mammals, it uses a "pacing" gait
Gait is the pattern of movement of the limbs of animals, including humans, during locomotion over a solid substrate. Most animals use a variety of gaits, selecting gait based on speed, terrain, the need to maneuver, and energetic efficien ... and moves both legs on one side of the body before the legs on the other side. It registers directly by placing each hind paw close to the track of the corresponding fore paw, minimizing noise and visible tracks. This also provides sure footing for hind paws when navigating rough terrain. As it speeds up from walking to trotting, its gait changes to a "diagonal" gait: The diagonally opposite hind and fore legs move simultaneously.
Most breeds of cat are notably fond of sitting in high places, or ''perching''. A higher place may serve as a concealed site from which to hunt; domestic cats strike prey by pouncing from a perch such as a tree branch. Another possible explanation is that height gives the cat a better observation point, allowing it to survey its territory. A cat falling from heights of up to can right itself and land on its paws.
During a fall from a high place, a cat reflexively twists its body and rights itself to land on its feet using its acute sense of balance and flexibility. This reflex is known as the cat righting reflex. A cat always rights itself in the same way during a fall, if it has enough time to do so, which is the case in falls of or more. [ ] How cats are able to right themselves when falling has been investigated as the " falling cat problem".
The cat family (Felidae) can pass down many colors and patterns to their offsprings. The domestic cat genes ''MC1R'' and ''ASIP'' allow for the variety of color in coats. The feline ASIP gene consists of three coding exons. Three novel
A microsatellite is a tract of repetitive DNA in which certain DNA motifs (ranging in length from one to six or more base pairs) are repeated, typically 5–50 times. Microsatellites occur at thousands of locations within an organism's genome. ... markers linked to ASIP were isolated from a domestic cat BAC clone containing this gene and were used to perform linkage analysis in a pedigree of 89 domestic cats that segregated for melanism
The term melanism refers to black pigment and is derived from the gr, μελανός. Melanism is the increased development of the dark-colored pigment melanin in the skin or hair.
Pseudomelanism, also called abundism, is another variant of pi ....
Cats have excellent
Night vision is the ability to see in low-light conditions, either naturally with scotopic vision or through a night-vision device. Night vision requires both sufficient spectral range and sufficient intensity range. Humans have poor night ... and can see at only one-sixth the light level required for human vision. This is partly the result of cat eyes having a '' tapetum lucidum'', which reflects any light that passes through the retina
The retina (from la, rete "net") is the innermost, light-sensitive layer of tissue of the eye of most vertebrates and some molluscs. The optics of the eye create a focused two-dimensional image of the visual world on the retina, which then ... back into the eye, thereby increasing the eye's sensitivity to dim light. Large pupils are an adaptation to dim light. The domestic cat has slit pupils, which allow it to focus bright light without chromatic aberration. At low light, a cat's pupils expand to cover most of the exposed surface of its eyes. The domestic cat has rather poor color vision
Color vision, a feature of visual perception, is an ability to perceive differences between light composed of different wavelengths (i.e., different spectral power distributions) independently of light intensity. Color perception is a part of ... and only two types of cone cell
Cone cells, or cones, are photoreceptor cells in the retinas of vertebrate eyes including the human eye. They respond differently to light of different wavelengths, and the combination of their responses is responsible for color vision. Con ...s, optimized for sensitivity to blue and yellowish green; its ability to distinguish between red and green is limited. A response to middle wavelengths from a system other than the rod cell
Rod cells are photoreceptor cells in the retina of the eye that can function in lower light better than the other type of visual photoreceptor, cone cells. Rods are usually found concentrated at the outer edges of the retina and are used in pe ...s might be due to a third type of cone. This appears to be an adaptation to low light levels rather than representing true trichromatic vision. Cats also have a nictitating membrane
The nictitating membrane (from Latin '' nictare'', to blink) is a transparent or translucent third eyelid present in some animals that can be drawn across the eye from the medial canthus to protect and moisten it while maintaining vision. Al ..., allowing them to blink without hindering their vision.
The domestic cat's hearing is most acute in the range of 500 Hz to 32 kHz. It can detect an extremely broad range of frequencies ranging from 55 Hz to 79 kHz. It can hear a range of 10.5
In music, an octave ( la, octavus: eighth) or perfect octave (sometimes called the diapason) is the interval between one musical pitch and another with double its frequency. The octave relationship is a natural phenomenon that has been refer ...s, while humans and dogs can hear ranges of about 9 octaves.
Its hearing sensitivity is enhanced by its large movable outer ears, the pinnae, which amplify sounds and help detect the location of a noise. It can detect ultrasound
Ultrasound is sound waves with frequencies higher than the upper audible limit of human hearing. Ultrasound is not different from "normal" (audible) sound in its physical properties, except that humans cannot hear it. This limit varies ..., which enables it to detect ultrasonic calls made by rodent
Rodents (from Latin , 'to gnaw') are mammals of the order Rodentia (), which are characterized by a single pair of continuously growing incisors in each of the upper and lower jaws. About 40% of all mammal species are rodents. They are n ... prey. Recent research has shown that cats have socio-spatial cognitive abilities to create mental maps of owners' locations based on hearing owners' voices.
Cats have an acute sense of smell, due in part to their well-developed
The olfactory bulb (Latin: ''bulbus olfactorius'') is a neural structure of the vertebrate forebrain involved in olfaction, the sense of smell. It sends olfactory information to be further processed in the amygdala, the orbitofrontal cortex (OF ... and a large surface of olfactory mucosa
The olfactory mucosa is located in the upper region of the nasal cavity and is made up of the olfactory epithelium and the underlying lamina propria, connective tissue containing fibroblasts, blood vessels, Bowman's glands and bundles of fine ..., about in area, which is about twice that of humans. Cats and many other animals have a Jacobson's organ in their mouths that is used in the behavioral process of flehmening. It allows them to sense certain aromas in a way that humans cannot. Cats are sensitive to pheromones such as 3-mercapto-3-methylbutan-1-ol, which they use to communicate through urine spraying and marking with scent glands. Many cats also respond strongly to plants that contain nepetalactone, especially catnip, as they can detect that substance at less than one part per billion. About 70–80% of cats are affected by nepetalactone. This response is also produced by other plants, such as silver vine ('' Actinidia polygama'') and the herb valerian; it may be caused by the smell of these plants mimicking a pheromone and stimulating cats' social or sexual behaviors.
Cats have relatively few
Taste buds contain the taste receptor cells, which are also known as gustatory cells. The taste receptors are located around the small structures known as papillae found on the upper surface of the tongue, soft palate, upper esophagus, the c ...s compared to humans (470 or so versus more than 9,000 on the human tongue). Domestic and wild cats share a taste receptor gene mutation that keeps their sweet taste buds from binding to sugary molecules, leaving them with no ability to taste sweetness
Sweetness is a basic taste most commonly perceived when eating foods rich in sugars. Sweet tastes are generally regarded as pleasurable. In addition to sugars like sucrose, many other chemical compounds are sweet, including aldehydes, keto .... Their taste buds instead respond to acid
In computer science
Computer science is the study of computation, automation, and information. Computer science spans theoretical disciplines (such as algorithms, theory of computation, information theory, and automation) to pract ...s, amino acid
Amino acids are organic compounds that contain both amino and carboxylic acid functional groups. Although hundreds of amino acids exist in nature, by far the most important are the alpha-amino acids, which comprise proteins. Only 22 alpha ...s like protein, and bitter tastes. Cats also have a distinct temperature preference for their food, preferring food with a temperature around which is similar to that of a fresh kill and routinely rejecting food presented cold or refrigerated (which would signal to the cat that the "prey" item is long dead and therefore possibly toxic or decomposing).
To aid with navigation and sensation, cats have dozens of movable whiskers (vibrissae) over their body, especially their faces. 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.
Outdoor cats are active both day and night, although they tend to be slightly more active at night. Domestic cats spend the majority of their time in the vicinity of their homes but can range many hundreds of meters from this central point. They establish
A territory is an area of land, sea, or space, particularly belonging or connected to a country, person, or animal.
In international politics, a territory is usually either the total area from which a state may extract power resources or an ... that vary considerably in size, in one study ranging from . The timing of cats' activity is quite flexible and varied, which means house cats may be more active in the morning and evening, as a response to greater human activity at these times.
Cats conserve energy by sleeping more than most animals, especially as they grow older. The daily duration of sleep varies, usually between 12 and 16 hours, with 13 and 14 being the average. Some cats can sleep as much as 20 hours. The term "cat nap" for a short rest refers to the cat's tendency to fall asleep (lightly) for a brief period. While asleep, cats experience short periods of rapid eye movement sleep
Rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep or REMS) is a unique phase of sleep in mammals and birds, characterized by random rapid movement of the eyes, accompanied by low muscle tone throughout the body, and the propensity of the sleeper to dre ... often accompanied by muscle twitches, which suggests they are dreaming.
The social behavior of the domestic cat ranges from widely dispersed individuals to feral cat colonies that gather around a food source, based on groups of co-operating females.
Within such groups, one cat is usually dominant over the others. Each cat in a colony holds a distinct territory, with sexually active males having the largest territories, which are about 10 times larger than those of female cats and may overlap with several females' territories. These territories are marked by urine spraying, by rubbing objects at head height with secretions from facial glands, and by defecation
Defecation (or defaecation) follows digestion, and is a necessary process by which organisms eliminate a solid, semisolid, or liquid waste material known as feces from the digestive tract via the anus. The act has a variety of names ranging f .... 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
Growling is a low, guttural vocalization produced by animals as an aggressive warning but can also be found in other contexts such as playful behaviors or mating. Different animals will use growling in specific contexts as a form of communicat ... and, if that does not work, by short but noisy and violent attacks. Despite this colonial organization, cats do not have a social survival strategy or a pack mentality, and always hunt alone.
Life in proximity to humans and other domestic animals has led to a symbiotic social adaptation in cats, and cats may express great affection toward humans or other animals. Ethologically, a cat's human keeper functions as if a mother surrogate. Adult cats live their lives in a kind of extended kittenhood, a form of behavioral neoteny
Neoteny (), also called juvenilization,Montagu, A. (1989). Growing Young. Bergin & Garvey: CT. is the delaying or slowing of the physiological, or somatic, development of an organism, typically an animal. Neoteny is found in modern humans compar .... Their high-pitched sounds may mimic the cries of a hungry human infant, making them particularly difficult for humans to ignore. Some pet cats are poorly socialized. In particular, older cats show aggressiveness toward newly arrived kittens, which include biting and scratching; this type of behavior is known as feline asocial aggression.
Redirected aggression is a common form of aggression which can occur in multiple cat households. In redirected aggression there is usually something that agitates the cat: this could be a sight, sound, or another source of stimuli which causes a heightened level of anxiety or arousal. If the cat cannot attack the stimuli, it may direct anger elsewhere by attacking or directing aggression to the nearest cat, dog, human or other being.
Domestic cats' scent rubbing behavior toward humans or other cats is thought to be a feline means for social bonding.
Domestic cats use many vocalizations for communication, including
A purr is a tonal fluttering sound made by some species of felids and two species of genets. It varies in loudness and tone among species and in the same animal. Felids are a family of mammals that belong to the order Carnivora and are inf ...ing, trilling, hissing, growling/snarling, grunting, and several different forms of meowing. [ Their ] body language
Body language is a type of communication in which physical behaviors, as opposed to words, are used to express or convey information. Such behavior includes facial expressions, body posture, gestures, eye movement, touch and the use of space. ..., including position of ears and tail, relaxation of the whole body, and kneading of the paws, are all indicators of mood. The tail and ears are particularly important social signal mechanisms in cats. A raised tail indicates a friendly greeting, and flattened ears indicates hostility. Tail-raising also indicates the cat's position in the group's social hierarchy
Social stratification refers to a society's categorization of its people into groups based on socioeconomic factors like wealth, income, race, education, ethnicity, gender, occupation, social status, or derived power (social and political). A ..., with dominant individuals raising their tails less often than subordinate ones. Feral cats are generally silent. Nose-to-nose touching is also a common greeting and may be followed by social grooming
Social grooming is a behavior in which social animals, including humans, clean or maintain one another's body or appearance. A related term, allogrooming, indicates social grooming between members of the same species. Grooming is a major soci ..., which is solicited by one of the cats raising and tilting its head.
Purring may have developed as an evolutionary advantage as a signaling mechanism of reassurance between mother cats and nursing
Nursing is a profession within the health care sector focused on the care of individuals, families, and communities so they may attain, maintain, or recover optimal health and quality of life. Nurses may be differentiated from other health c ... kittens, who are thought to use it as a care-soliciting signal.
Post-nursing cats also often purr as a sign of contentment: when being petted, becoming relaxed, or eating. Even though purring as popularly interpreted as indicative of pleasure, it has been recorded in a wide variety of circumstances, most of which involve physical contact between the cat and another, presumably trusted individual. Some cats have been observed to purr continuously when
chronically ill or in apparent pain.
The exact mechanism by which cats purr has long been elusive, but it has been proposed that purring is generated via a series of sudden build-ups and releases of pressure as the glottis
The glottis is the opening between the vocal folds (the rima glottidis). The glottis is crucial in producing vowels and voiced consonants.
From Ancient Greek ''γλωττίς'' (glōttís), derived from ''γλῶττα'' (glôtta), va ... is opened and closed, which causes the vocal folds
In humans, vocal cords, also known as vocal folds or voice reeds, are folds of throat tissues that are key in creating sounds through vocalization. The size of vocal cords affects the pitch of voice. Open when breathing and vibrating for speec ... to separate forcefully. The laryngeal muscles in control of the glottis
are thought to be driven by a neural oscillator which generates a cycle of contraction and release every 30-40
milliseconds (giving a frequency of 33 to 25 Hz).
Cats are known for spending considerable amounts of time licking their coats to keep them clean.
The cat's tongue has backward-facing spines about 500 μm long, which are called papillae. These contain keratin
Keratin () is one of a family of structural fibrous proteins also known as ''scleroproteins''. Alpha-keratin (α-keratin) is a type of keratin found in vertebrates. It is the key structural material making up scales, hair, nails, feathers, ... which makes them rigid so the papillae act 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 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. [
Among domestic cats, males are more likely to fight than females.
Among feral cats, the most common reason for cat fighting is competition between two males to mate with a female. In such cases, most fights are won by the heavier male. Another common reason for fighting in domestic cats is the difficulty of establishing territories within a small home. Female cats also fight over territory or to defend their kittens. Neutering will decrease or eliminate this behavior in many cases, suggesting that the behavior is linked to sex hormones.
When cats become aggressive, they try to make themselves appear larger and more threatening by raising their fur, arching their backs, turning sideways and hissing or spitting. 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. Cats may also vocalize loudly and bare their teeth in an effort to further intimidate their opponents. Fights usually consist of grappling and delivering powerful slaps to the face and body with the forepaws as well as bites. Cats also throw themselves to the ground in a defensive posture to rake their opponent's belly with their powerful hind legs.
Serious damage is rare, as the fights are usually short in duration, with the loser running away with little more than a few scratches to the face and ears. Fights for mating rights are typically more severe and injuries may include deep puncture wounds and lacerations. Normally, serious injuries from fighting are 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. Sexually active males are usually involved in many fights during their lives, and often have decidedly battered faces with obvious scars and cuts to their ears and nose. Cats are willing to threaten animals larger than them to defend their territory, such as dogs and foxes.
Hunting and feeding
The shape and structure of cats' cheeks is insufficient to allow them to take in liquids using suction. Therefore, when drinking they lap with the tongue to draw liquid upward 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 like a corkscrew, drawing water upward.
Feral cats and free-fed house cats consume several small meals in a day. The frequency and size of meals varies between individuals. They select food based on its temperature, smell and texture; they dislike chilled foods and respond most strongly to moist foods rich in amino acids, which are similar to meat. Cats reject novel flavors (a response termed neophobia) and learn quickly to avoid foods that have tasted unpleasant in the past. It is also a common misconception that cats like milk/cream, as they tend to avoid sweet food and milk. Most adult cats are lactose intolerant; the sugar in milk is not easily digested and may cause soft stools or diarrhea
Diarrhea, also spelled diarrhoea, is the condition of having at least three loose, liquid, or watery bowel movements each day. It often lasts for a few days and can result in dehydration due to fluid loss. Signs of dehydration often begin .... Some also develop odd eating habits and like to eat or chew on things like wool, plastic, cables, paper, string, aluminum foil, or even coal. This condition, pica, can threaten their health, depending on the amount and toxicity of the items eaten.
Cats hunt small prey, primarily birds and rodents, and are often used as a form of pest control. Cats use two hunting strategies, either stalking prey actively, or waiting in ambush until an animal comes close enough to be captured. The strategy used depends on the prey species in the area, with cats waiting in ambush outside burrows, but tending to actively stalk birds. Domestic cats are a major predator of wildlife in the United States, killing an estimated 1.3 to 4.0 billion birds and 6.3 to 22.3 billion mammals annually.
Certain species appear more susceptible than others; in one English village, for example, 30% of house sparrow mortality was linked to the domestic cat. In the recovery of ringed robins ('' Erithacus rubecula'') and dunnocks ('' Prunella modularis'') in Britain, 31% of deaths were a result of cat predation. In parts of North America, the presence of larger carnivores such as coyote
The coyote (''Canis latrans'') is a species of canine native to North America. It is smaller than its close relative, the wolf, and slightly smaller than the closely related eastern wolf and red wolf. It fills much of the same ecological ...s which prey on cats and other small predators reduces the effect of predation by cats and other small predators such as opossum
Opossums () are members of the marsupial order Didelphimorphia () endemic to the Americas. The largest order of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere, it comprises 93 species in 18 genera. Opossums originated in South America and entered North A ...s and raccoon
The raccoon ( or , ''Procyon lotor''), sometimes called the common raccoon to distinguish it from other species, is a mammal native to North America. It is the largest of the procyonid family, having a body length of , and a body weight of ...s on bird numbers and variety.
Perhaps the best-known element of cats' hunting behavior, which is commonly misunderstood and often appalls cat owners because it looks like torture, is that cats often appear to "play" with prey by releasing and recapturing it. This cat and mouse behavior is due to an instinctive imperative to ensure that the prey is weak enough to be killed without endangering the cat.
Another poorly understood element of cat hunting behavior is the presentation of prey to human guardians. One explanation is that cats adopt humans into their social group and share excess kill with others in the group according to the dominance hierarchy
In biology, a dominance hierarchy (formerly and colloquially called a pecking order) is a type of social hierarchy that arises when members of animal social groups interact, creating a ranking system. A dominant higher-ranking individual is so ..., in which humans are reacted to as if they are at or near the top. Another explanation is that they attempt to teach their guardians to hunt or to help their human as if feeding "an elderly cat, or an inept kitten". This hypothesis is inconsistent with the fact that male cats also bring home prey, despite males having negligible involvement in raising kittens.
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. Cats 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.
Cats also tend to play with toys more when they are hungry. 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 to a toy they have played with before. String is often used as a toy, but if it is eaten, it can become caught at the base of the cat's tongue and then move into the
The gastrointestinal tract (GI tract, digestive tract, alimentary canal) is the tract or passageway of the digestive system that leads from the mouth to the anus. The GI tract contains all the major organs of the digestive system, in humans an ...s, a medical emergency which can cause serious illness, even death. Owing to the risks posed by cats eating string, it is sometimes replaced with a laser pointer's dot, which cats may chase.
Female cats, called queens, are polyestrous with several
The estrous cycle (, originally ) is the set of recurring physiological changes that are induced by reproductive hormones in most mammalian therian females. Estrous cycles start after sexual maturity in females and are interrupted by anestrous ... cycles during a year, lasting usually 21 days. They are usually ready to mate between early February and August.
Several males, called tomcats, are attracted to a female in heat. They fight over her, and the victor wins the right to mate. At first, the female rejects the male, but eventually, the female allows the male to mate. The female utters a loud yowl as the male pulls out of her because a male cat's penis
A penis (plural ''penises'' or ''penes'' () is the primary sexual organ that male animals use to inseminate females (or hermaphrodites) during copulation. Such organs occur in many animals, both vertebrate and invertebrate, but males d ... has a band of about 120–150 backward-pointing penile spines, which are about long; upon withdrawal of the penis, the spines may provide the female with increased sexual stimulation, which acts to induce ovulation.
After mating, the female cleans her vulva
The vulva (plural: vulvas or vulvae; derived from Latin for wrapper or covering) consists of the external female sex organs. The vulva includes the mons pubis (or mons veneris), labia majora, labia minora, clitoris, vestibular bulbs, v ... thoroughly. If a male attempts to mate with her at this point, the female attacks him. After about 20 to 30 minutes, once the female is finished grooming, the cycle will repeat. Because ovulation is not always triggered by a single mating, females may not be impregnated by the first male with which they mate. 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.
A morula (Latin, ''morus'': mulberry) is an early-stage embryo consisting of a solid ball of cells called blastomeres, contained in mammals, and other animals within the zona pellucida shell. The blastomeres are the daughter cells of the zygote ... forms 124 hours after conception. At 148 hours, early blastocyst
The blastocyst is a structure formed in the early embryonic development of mammals. It possesses an inner cell mass (ICM) also known as the ''embryoblast'' which subsequently forms the embryo, and an outer layer of trophoblast cells called the ...s form. At 10–12 days, implantation occurs. The gestation
Gestation is the period of development during the carrying of an embryo, and later fetus, inside viviparous animals (the embryo develops within the parent). It is typical for mammals, but also occurs for some non-mammals. Mammals during pr ... of queens lasts between 64 and 67 days, with an average of 65 days.
Data on the reproductive capacity of more than 2,300 free-ranging queens were collected during a study between May 1998 and October 2000. They had one to six kittens per litter
Litter consists of waste products that have been discarded incorrectly, without consent, at an unsuitable location. Litter can also be used as a verb; to litter means to drop and leave objects, often man-made, such as aluminum cans, paper cup ..., with an average of three kittens. They produced a mean of 1.4 litters per year, but a maximum of three litters in a year. Of 169 kittens, 127 died before they were six months old due to a trauma caused in most cases by dog attacks and road accidents.
The first litter is usually smaller than subsequent litters. Kittens are weaned between six and seven weeks of age. Queens normally reach sexual maturity at 5–10 months, and males at 5–7 months. This varies depending on breed. Kittens reach puberty
Puberty is the process of physical changes through which a child's body matures into an adult body capable of sexual reproduction. It is initiated by hormonal signals from the brain to the gonads: the ovaries in a girl, the testes in a ... at the age of 9–10 months.
Cats are ready to go to new homes at about 12 weeks of age, when they are ready to leave their mother. They can be surgically sterilized (spayed or castrated
Castration is any action, surgical, chemical, or otherwise, by which an individual loses use of the testicles: the male gonad. Surgical castration is bilateral orchiectomy (excision of both testicles), while chemical castration uses pharmac ...) as early as seven weeks to limit unwanted reproduction. 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 before puberty
Puberty is the process of physical changes through which a child's body matures into an adult body capable of sexual reproduction. It is initiated by hormonal signals from the brain to the gonads: the ovaries in a girl, the testes in a ..., at about three to six months. In the United States, about 80% of household cats are neutered.
Lifespan and health
The average lifespan of pet cats has risen in recent decades. In the early 1980s, it was about seven years,
rising to 9.4 years in 1995 [ and about 15 years in 2021. Some cats have been reported as surviving into their 30s,] [Example: ] with the oldest known cat, Creme Puff, dying at a verified age of 38.
Neutering increases life expectancy: one study found castrated male cats live twice as long as intact males, while spayed female cats live 62% longer than intact females. [ Having a cat neutered confers health benefits, because castrated males cannot develop testicular cancer, spayed females cannot develop uterine or ] ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer is a cancerous tumor of an ovary. It may originate from the ovary itself or more commonly from communicating nearby structures such as fallopian tubes or the inner lining of the abdomen. The ovary is made up of three different ..., and both have a reduced risk of mammary cancer.
About 250 heritable
A genetic disorder is a health problem caused by one or more abnormalities in the genome. It can be caused by a mutation in a single gene (monogenic) or multiple genes (polygenic) or by a chromosomal abnormality. Although polygenic disorders ...s have been identified in cats, many similar to human inborn errors of metabolism. The high level of similarity among the metabolism
Metabolism (, from el, μεταβολή ''metabolē'', "change") is the set of life-sustaining chemical reactions in organisms. The three main functions of metabolism are: the conversion of the energy in food to energy available to run ... 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 model
An animal model (short for animal disease model) is a living, non-human, often genetic-engineered animal used during the research and investigation of human disease, for the purpose of better understanding the disease process without the risk of ha ...s in the study of the human diseases. Diseases affecting domestic cats include acute infections, parasitic infestations, injuries, and chronic diseases such as kidney disease
Kidney disease, or renal disease, technically referred to as nephropathy, is damage to or disease of a kidney. Nephritis is an inflammatory kidney disease and has several types according to the location of the inflammation. Inflammation can b ..., thyroid disease
Thyroid disease is a medical condition that affects the function of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located at the front of the neck and produces thyroid hormones that travel through the blood to help regulate many other organs, meaning ..., and arthritis
Arthritis is a term often used to mean any disorder that affects joints. Symptoms generally include joint pain and stiffness. Other symptoms may include redness, warmth, swelling, and decreased range of motion of the affected joints. In so .... Vaccinations
Vaccination is the administration of a vaccine to help the immune system develop immunity from a disease. Vaccines contain a microorganism or virus in a weakened, live or killed state, or proteins or toxins from the organism. In stimulating ... are available for many infectious diseases, as are treatments to eliminate parasites such as worms, ticks, and fleas.
The domestic cat is a
In biogeography, cosmopolitan distribution is the term for the range of a taxon that extends across all or most of the world in appropriate habitats. Such a taxon, usually a species, is said to exhibit cosmopolitanism or cosmopolitism. The ext ... and occurs across much of the world. It is adaptable and now present on all continents except Antarctica
Antarctica () is Earth's southernmost and least-populated continent. Situated almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle and surrounded by the Southern Ocean, it contains the geographic South Pole. Antarctica is the fifth-largest conti ..., and on 118 of the 131 main groups of islands, even on the isolated Kerguelen Islands
The Kerguelen Islands ( or ; in French commonly ' but officially ', ), also known as the Desolation Islands (' in French), are a group of islands in the sub-Antarctic constituting one of the two exposed parts of the Kerguelen Plateau, a l .... Due to its ability to thrive in almost any terrestrial habitat, it is among the world's most invasive species
An invasive species otherwise known as an alien is an introduced organism that becomes overpopulated and harms its new environment. Although most introduced species are neutral or beneficial with respect to other species, invasive species ad .... It lives on small islands with no human inhabitants. Feral cats can live in forests, grasslands, tundra, coastal areas, agricultural land, scrublands, urban areas, and wetlands.
The unwantedness that leads to the domestic cat being treated as an invasive species
An invasive species otherwise known as an alien is an introduced organism that becomes overpopulated and harms its new environment. Although most introduced species are neutral or beneficial with respect to other species, invasive species ad ... is twofold. On one hand, as it is little altered from the wildcat, it can readily interbreed with the wildcat. This hybridization poses a danger to the genetic distinctiveness of some wildcat populations, particularly in Scotland
Scotland (, ) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a border with England to the southeast and is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean t ... and Hungary
Hungary ( hu, Magyarország ) is a landlocked country in Central Europe. Spanning of the Carpathian Basin, it is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine to the northeast, Romania to the east and southeast, Serbia to the south, C ..., possibly also the Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula (),
* Aragonese and Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica''
* french: Péninsule Ibérique
* mwl, Península Eibérica
* eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a peninsula in southwestern Europe, defi ..., and where protected natural areas are close to human-dominated landscapes, such as Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is a South African National Park and one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers an area of in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in northeastern South Africa, and extends from north to south and from ... in South Africa
South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by of coastline that stretch along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring count .... On the other hand, and perhaps more obviously, its introduction to places where no native felines are present contributes to the decline of native species. [
Feral cats are domestic cats that were born in or have reverted to a wild state. They are unfamiliar with and wary of humans and roam freely in urban and rural areas.
The numbers of feral cats is not known, but estimates of the United States feral population range from 25 to 60 million. Feral cats may live alone, but most are found in large colonies
In modern parlance, a colony is a territory subject to a form of foreign rule. Though dominated by the foreign colonizers, colonies remain separate from the administration of the original country of the colonizers, the '' metropolitan state' ..., which occupy a specific territory and are usually associated with a source of food. Famous feral cat colonies are found in Rome around the Colosseum
The Colosseum ( ; it, Colosseo ) is an oval amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy, just east of the Roman Forum. It is the largest ancient amphitheatre ever built, and is still the largest standing amphitheatre in the world to ... and Forum Romanum
The Roman Forum, also known by its Latin name Forum Romanum ( it, Foro Romano), is a rectangular forum (plaza) surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. Citizens of the ancien ..., with cats at some of these sites being fed and given medical attention by volunteers.
Public attitudes toward feral cats vary widely, from seeing them as free-ranging pets to regarding them as vermin.
Some feral cats can be successfully socialized and 're-tamed' for adoption; young cats, especially kittens and cats that have had prior experience and contact with humans are the most receptive to these efforts.
Impact on wildlife
On islands, birds can contribute as much as 60% of a cat's diet.
In nearly all cases, 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; where the suppression of top carnivores creates an abundance of smaller predators that cause a severe decline in their shared prey. Domestic cats are 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 rail, and the New Zealand merganser are a few from a long list, with the most extreme case being the flightless Lyall's wren, which was driven to extinction only a few years after its discovery.
One feral cat in New Zealand killed 102 New Zealand lesser short-tailed bats in seven days. In the US, feral and free-ranging domestic cats kill an estimated 6.3 – 22.3 billion mammals annually.
In Australia, the impact of cats on mammal populations is even greater than the impact of habitat loss. More than one million reptiles are killed by feral cats each day, representing 258 species. Cats have contributed to the extinction of the Navassa curly-tailed lizard and '' Chioninia coctei.''
Interaction with humans
Cats are common pets throughout the world, and their worldwide population as of 2007 exceeded 500 million.
Cats have been used for millennia to control rodents, notably around grain stores and aboard ships, and both uses extend to the present day.
As well as being kept as pets, cats are also used in the international fur trade
The fur trade is a worldwide industry dealing in the acquisition and sale of animal fur. Since the establishment of a world fur market in the early modern period, furs of boreal, polar and cold temperate mammalian animals have been the mo ... and leather industries for making coats, hats, blankets, and stuffed toys; and shoes, gloves, and musical instruments respectively (about 24 cats are needed to make a cat-fur coat). This use has been outlawed in the United States since 2000 and in the European Union (as well as the United Kingdom) since 2007.
Cat pelts have been used for superstitious purposes as part of the practice of witchcraft
Witchcraft traditionally means the use of magic or supernatural powers to harm others. A practitioner is a witch. In medieval and early modern Europe, where the term originated, accused witches were usually women who were believed to have us ..., and are still made into blankets in Switzerland
). Swiss law does not designate a ''capital'' as such, but the federal parliament and government are in Bern, while other federal institutions, such as the federal courts, are in other cities (Bellinzona, Lausanne, Luzern, Neuchâtel, St. Gall ... as traditional medicine
Traditional medicine (also known as indigenous medicine or folk medicine) comprises medical aspects of traditional knowledge that developed over generations within the folk beliefs of various societies, including indigenous peoples, before the ... thought to cure rheumatism
Rheumatism or rheumatic disorders are conditions causing chronic, often intermittent pain affecting the joints or connective tissue. Rheumatism does not designate any specific disorder, but covers at least 200 different conditions, including art ....
A few attempts to build a cat census have been made over the years, both through associations or national and international organizations (such as that of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies ) and over the Internet, but such a task does not seem simple to achieve. General estimates for the global population of domestic cats range widely from anywhere between 200 million to 600 million. Walter Chandoha made his career photographing cats after his 1949 images of ''Loco'', an especially charming stray taken in, were published around the world. He is reported to have photographed 90,000 cats during his career and maintained an archive of 225,000 images that he drew from for publications during his lifetime.
A cat show is a judged event where the owners of cats compete to win titles in various cat registering organizations by entering their cats to be judged after a breed standard. Both pedigreed and companion (or moggy) cats are admissible, althou ... is a judged event in which the owners of cats compete to win titles in various cat-registering organizations by entering their cats to be judged after a breed standard. It is often required that a cat must be healthy and vaccinated in order to participate in a cat show. Both pedigreed and non- purebred
Purebreds are " cultivated varieties" of an animal species achieved through the process of selective breeding. When the lineage of a purebred animal is recorded, that animal is said to be " pedigreed". Purebreds breed true-to-type which means ... companion ("moggy") cats are admissible, although the rules differ depending on the organization. Competing cats are compared to the applicable breed standard, and assessed for temperament.
Cats can be infected or infested with
A virus is a submicroscopic infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of an organism. Viruses infect all life forms, from animals and plants to microorganisms, including bacteria and archaea.
Since Dmitri Ivanovs ...es, bacteria
Bacteria (; singular: bacterium) are ubiquitous, mostly free-living organisms often consisting of one biological cell. They constitute a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria were a ..., fungus
A fungus ( : fungi or funguses) is any member of the group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, separately from ..., protozoans, arthropod
Arthropods (, (gen. ποδός)) are invertebrate animals with an exoskeleton, a segmented body, and paired jointed appendages. Arthropods form the phylum Arthropoda. They are distinguished by their jointed limbs and cuticle made of chiti ...s or worms that can transmit diseases to humans. In some cases, the cat exhibits no symptoms
Signs and symptoms are the observed or detectable signs, and experienced symptoms of an illness, injury, or condition. A sign for example may be a higher or lower temperature than normal, raised or lowered blood pressure or an abnormality showin ... of the disease. The same disease can then become evident in a human. The likelihood that a person will become diseased depends on the age and immune
In biology, immunity is the capability of multicellular organisms to resist harmful microorganisms. Immunity involves both specific and nonspecific components. The nonspecific components act as barriers or eliminators of a wide range of pathoge ... status of the person. Humans who have cats living in their home or in close association are more likely to become infected. Others might also acquire infections from cat feces
Feces ( or faeces), known colloquially and in slang as poo and poop, are the solid or semi-solid remains of food that was not digested in the small intestine, and has been broken down by bacteria in the large intestine. Feces contain a rela ... and parasite
Parasitism is a close relationship between species, where one organism, the parasite, lives on or inside another organism, the host, causing it some harm, and is adapted structurally to this way of life. The entomologist E. O. Wilson ...s exiting the cat's body. Some of the infections of most concern include salmonella
''Salmonella'' is a genus
Genus ( plural genera ) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms as well as virus
A virus is a submicroscopic infectious agent that replicates only ins ..., cat-scratch disease and toxoplasmosis
Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease caused by ''Toxoplasma gondii'', an apicomplexan. Infections with toxoplasmosis are associated with a variety of neuropsychiatric and behavioral conditions. Occasionally, people may have a few weeks or months ....
History and mythology
In ancient Egypt, cats were worshipped, and the goddess Bastet often depicted in cat form, sometimes taking on the war-like aspect of a lioness. The Greek historian
Herodotus ( ; grc, , }; BC) was an ancient Greek historian and geographer from the Greek city of Halicarnassus, part of the Persian Empire (now Bodrum, Turkey) and a later citizen of Thurii in modern Calabria ( Italy). He is known ... reported that killing a cat was forbidden, and when a household cat died, the entire family mourned and shaved their eyebrows. Families took their dead cats to the sacred city of Bubastis
Bubastis ( Bohairic Coptic: ''Poubasti''; Greek: ''Boubastis'' or ''Boubastos''), also known in Arabic as Tell-Basta or in Egyptian as Per-Bast, was an ancient Egyptian city. Bubastis is often identified with the biblical ''Pi-Beseth'' ( ..., where they were embalmed and buried in sacred repositories. Herodotus expressed astonishment at the domestic cats in Egypt, because he had only ever seen wildcats.
Ancient Greeks and Romans kept weasel
Weasels are mammals of the genus ''Mustela'' of the family Mustelidae. The genus ''Mustela'' includes the least weasels, polecats, stoats, ferrets and European mink. Members of this genus are small, active predators, with long and slender bod ...s as pets, which were seen as the ideal rodent-killers. The earliest unmistakable evidence of the Greeks having domestic cats comes from two coins from Magna Graecia
Magna Graecia (, ; , , grc, Μεγάλη Ἑλλάς, ', it, Magna Grecia) was the name given by the Romans to the coastal areas of Southern Italy in the present-day Italian regions of Calabria, Apulia, Basilicata, Campania and Sicily; th ... dating to the mid-fifth century BC showing Iokastos and Phalanthos, the legendary founders of Rhegion and Taras respectively, playing with their pet cats. The usual ancient Greek word for 'cat' was , meaning 'thing with the waving tail'. Cats are rarely mentioned in ancient Greek literature
Ancient Greek literature is literature written in the Ancient Greek language from the earliest texts until the time of the Byzantine Empire. The earliest surviving works of ancient Greek literature, dating back to the early Archaic period, are .... Aristotle
Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatetic school of ... remarked in his '' History of Animals
''History of Animals'' ( grc-gre, Τῶν περὶ τὰ ζῷα ἱστοριῶν, ''Ton peri ta zoia historion'', "Inquiries on Animals"; la, Historia Animalium, "History of Animals") is one of the major texts on biology by the ancient Gr ...'' that "female cats are naturally lecherous." The Greeks later syncretized their own goddess Artemis
In ancient Greek mythology and religion, Artemis (; grc-gre, Ἄρτεμις) is the goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, wild animals, nature, vegetation, childbirth, care of children, and chastity. She was heavily identified with Selen ... with the Egyptian goddess Bastet, adopting Bastet's associations with cats and ascribing them to Artemis. In Ovid
Pūblius Ovidius Nāsō (; 20 March 43 BC – 17/18 AD), known in English as Ovid ( ), was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was a contemporary of the older Virgil and Horace, with whom he is often ranked as one of the ...'s '' Metamorphoses
The ''Metamorphoses'' ( la, Metamorphōsēs, from grc, μεταμορφώσεις: "Transformations") is a Latin narrative poem from 8 CE by the Roman poet Ovid. It is considered his '' magnum opus''. The poem chronicles the history of the ...'', when the deities flee to Egypt and take animal forms, the goddess Diana turns into a cat.
Cats eventually displaced weasel
Weasels are mammals of the genus ''Mustela'' of the family Mustelidae. The genus ''Mustela'' includes the least weasels, polecats, stoats, ferrets and European mink. Members of this genus are small, active predators, with long and slender bod ...s as the pest control of choice because they were more pleasant to have around the house and were more enthusiastic hunters of mice. During the Middle Ages
In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire ..., many of Artemis's associations with cats were grafted onto the Virgin Mary
Mary; arc, ܡܪܝܡ, translit=Mariam; ar, مريم, translit=Maryam; grc, Μαρία, translit=María; la, Maria; cop, Ⲙⲁⲣⲓⲁ, translit=Maria was a first-century Jewish woman of Nazareth, the wife of Joseph and the mother of .... Cats are often shown in icons of Annunciation
The Annunciation (from Latin '), also referred to as the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Annunciation of Our Lady, or the Annunciation of the Lord, is the Christian celebration of the biblical tale of the announcement by the ange ... and of the Holy Family and, according to Italian folklore, on the same night that Mary gave birth to Jesus
Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew/Aramaic ( AD 30 or 33), also referred to as Jesus Christ or Jesus of Nazareth (among other names and titles), was a first-century Jewish preacher and religiou ..., a cat in Bethlehem
Bethlehem (; ar, بيت لحم ; he, בֵּית לֶחֶם '' '') is a city in the central West Bank, Palestine, about south of Jerusalem. Its population is approximately 25,000,Amara, 1999p. 18.Brynen, 2000p. 202. and it is the capital ... gave birth to a kitten. Domestic cats were spread throughout much of the rest of the world during the Age of Discovery
The Age of Discovery (or the Age of Exploration), also known as the early modern period, was a period largely overlapping with the Age of Sail, approximately from the 15th century to the 17th century in European history, during which seaf ..., as ships' cats were carried on sailing ship
A sailing ship is a sea-going vessel that uses sails mounted on masts to harness the power of wind and propel the vessel. There is a variety of sail plans that propel sailing ships, employing square-rigged or fore-and-aft sails. Some ships ...s to control shipboard rodents and as good-luck charms. [
Several ancient religions believed cats are exalted souls, companions or guides for humans, that are all-knowing but mute so they cannot influence decisions made by humans. In Japan, the cat is a symbol of good fortune. In ] Norse mythology
Norse, Nordic, or Scandinavian mythology is the body of myths belonging to the North Germanic peoples, stemming from Old Norse religion and continuing after the Christianization of Scandinavia, and into the Nordic folklore of the modern per ..., Freyja
In Norse paganism, Freyja (Old Norse "(the) Lady") is a goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, sex, war, gold, and seiðr (magic for seeing and influencing the future). Freyja is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen, rides a ch ..., the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, is depicted as riding a chariot drawn by cats. In Jewish legend, the first cat was living in the house of the first man Adam
Adam; el, Ἀδάμ, Adám; la, Adam is the name given in Genesis 1-5 to the first human. Beyond its use as the name of the first man, ''adam'' is also used in the Bible as a pronoun, individually as "a human" and in a collective sense as ... as a pet that got rid of mice
A mouse ( : mice) is a small rodent. Characteristically, mice are known to have a pointed snout, small rounded ears, a body-length scaly tail, and a high breeding rate. The best known mouse species is the common house mouse (''Mus musculus'' .... The cat was once partnering with the first dog before the latter broke an oath they had made which resulted in enmity between the descendants of these two animals. It is also written that neither cats nor foxes are represented in the water, while every other animal has an incarnation species in the water. Although no species are sacred in Islam, cats are revered by Muslims. Some Western writers have stated Muhammad
Muhammad ( ar, مُحَمَّد; 570 – 8 June 632 CE) was an Arab religious, social, and political leader and the founder of Islam. According to Islamic doctrine, he was a prophet divinely inspired to preach and confirm the mono ... had a favorite cat, '' Muezza''. He is reported to have loved cats so much, "he would do without his cloak rather than disturb one that was sleeping on it". The story has no origin in early Muslim writers, and seems to confuse a story of a later Sufi
Sufism ( ar, ''aṣ-ṣūfiyya''), also known as Tasawwuf ( ''at-taṣawwuf''), is a mystic body of religious practice, found mainly within Sunni Islam but also within Shia Islam, which is characterized by a focus on Islamic spirituality, ... saint, Ahmed ar-Rifa'i, centuries after Muhammad. One of the companions of Muhammad was known as Abu Hurayrah ("father of the kitten"), in reference to his documented affection to cats.
Superstitions and rituals
Many cultures have negative
A superstition is any belief or practice considered by non-practitioners to be irrational or supernatural, attributed to fate or magic, perceived supernatural influence, or fear of that which is unknown. It is commonly applied to beliefs ...s about cats. An example would be the belief that encountering a black cat ("crossing one's path") leads to bad luck, or that cats are witches' familiars used to augment a witch's powers and skills. The killing of cats in Medieval Ypres
Ypres ( , ; nl, Ieper ; vls, Yper; german: Ypern ) is a Belgian city and municipality in the province of West Flanders. Though
the Dutch name is the official one, the city's French name is most commonly used in English. The municipalit ..., Belgium
Belgium, ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Northwestern Europe. The country is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to th ..., is commemorated in the innocuous present-day Kattenstoet (cat parade). In mid-16th century France, cats would be burnt alive as a form of entertainment. According to Norman Davies
Ivor Norman Richard Davies (born 8 June 1939) is a Welsh-Polish historian, known for his publications on the history of Europe, Poland and the United Kingdom. He has a special interest in Central and Eastern Europe and is UNESCO Professor a ..., the assembled people "shrieked with laughter as the animals, howling with pain, were singed, roasted, and finally carbonized".
James Frazer wrote that "It was the custom to burn a basket, barrel, or sack full of live cats, which was hung from a tall mast in the midst of the bonfire; sometimes a fox was burned. The people collected the embers and ashes of the fire and took them home, believing that they brought good luck. The French kings often witnessed these spectacles and even lit the bonfire with their own hands. In 1648 Louis XIV
, house = Bourbon
, father = Louis XIII
, mother = Anne of Austria
, birth_date =
, birth_place = Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
, death_date =
, death_place = Palace of Ver ..., crowned with a wreath of roses and carrying a bunch of roses in his hand, kindled the fire, danced at it and partook of the banquet afterwards in the town hall. But this was the last occasion when a monarch presided at the midsummer bonfire in Paris. At Metz
Metz ( , , lat, Divodurum Mediomatricorum, then ) is a city in northeast France located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Seille rivers. Metz is the prefecture of the Moselle department and the seat of the parliament of the Grand Est ... midsummer fires were lighted with great pomp on the esplanade, and a dozen cats, enclosed in wicker
Wicker is the oldest furniture making method known to history, dating as far back as 5,000 years ago. It was first documented in ancient Egypt using pliable plant material, but in modern times it is made from any pliable, easily woven material. ... cages, were burned alive in them, to the amusement of the people. Similarly, at Gap, in the department of the Hautes-Alpes
Hautes-Alpes (; oc, Auts Aups; en, Upper Alps) is a department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of Southeastern France. It is located in the heart of the French Alps, after which it is named. Hautes-Alpes had a population of 141,2 ..., cats used to be roasted over the midsummer bonfire."
According to a myth in many cultures, cats have multiple lives. In many countries, they are believed to have nine lives, but in Italy, Germany, Greece, Brazil and some Spanish-speaking regions, they are said to have seven lives, while in Arabic traditions, the number of lives is six. The myth is attributed to the natural suppleness and swiftness cats exhibit to escape life-threatening situations. 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. [ (Press release.)]
File:Persian Baby Cat.jpg, alt=Baby Persian Cat, A Persian kitten.
* Aging in cats
* Animal testing on cats
* Animal track
* Cancer in cats
* Cat bite
* Cat café
A cat collar is a piece of material put around the neck of a cat. Cat collars are used for identification, fashion, protection (as from fleas), restraint, or to warn off prey, and may be worn by cats that are indoor-only as well as cats with outdoo ...
* Cat lady
* Cat lover culture
* Cat meat
* Cats and the Internet
* Cats in Australia
* Cats in New Zealand
* Cats in the United States
* Dog–cat relationship
* Dried cat
* List of cat breeds
The following list of cat breeds includes only domestic cat breeds and domestic and wild hybrids. The list includes established breeds recognized by various cat registries, new and experimental breeds, landraces being established as standardiz ...
* List of cat documentaries
* List of individual cats
* List of fictional cats and felines
* Pet door
* Pet first aid
* Popular cat names
High-Resolution Images of the Cat Brain
Biodiversity Heritage Library bibliography
for ''Felis catus''
Catpert. The Cat Expert
nbsp;– Cat articles
* View th
Ensembl genome database project is a scientific project at the European Bioinformatics Institute, which provides a centralized resource for geneticists, molecular biologists and other researchers studying the genomes of our own species and other v ...
* Scientific American
''Scientific American'', informally abbreviated ''SciAm'' or sometimes ''SA'', is an American popular science magazine. Many famous scientists, including Albert Einstein and Nikola Tesla, have contributed articles to it. In print since 1845, i ...,
The Origin of the Cat
, 20 August 1881, pp. 120
Mammals described in 1758
Articles containing video clips
Taxa named by Carl Linnaeus