The Domestic Cat: Description, Habitat, Sleep, Reproduction, Feeding...
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It may seem hard to believe that your loving domestic cat is distantly related to feral cats. The domestic cat has been part of households for over 4,000 years . The ancient Egyptians 🌾 loved them and many people were buried with their cat from that time.
The size and color of the domestic cat depends on the food 🍅 given to it, the subspecies and the breed, but whatever their breed, they are all members of the same species! So discover in the rest of this article all the secrets of domestic cats , ranging from their description, through their habitat and their reproduction to their diet, their sleep and their behavior.
1) The Domestic Cat in 10 Seconds TOP CHRONO
- COMMON NAME: Cat, House Cat or Domestic Cat
- SCIENTIFIC NAME: Felis catus
- BASIC ANIMAL GROUP: Mammals
- DIET: Carnivore 🍗
- SIZE: 45 to 70 cm
- WEIGHT: 2.5 to 9 kg
- LIFETIME: 10 to 20 years
- HABITAT: Domestic cats are found all over the world
- CONSERVATION STATE: Not Evaluated
2) The Physical Description of the Domestic Cat
The cat, (Felis catus), also called house cat or domestic cat is a domesticated member of the family Felidae, order Carnivora, and is the smallest member of this family. Like all felids, domestic cats are characterized by a supple and low 🤸♀️ body , a finely molded head , a long tail that helps with balance, and specialized teeth and claws that adapt them admirably to an active hunting life. .
Cats possess other characteristics of their wild cousins: they are fundamentally carnivorous, remarkably agile and powerful , and finely coordinated in their movements. They have a small skull and very small teeth. They are fast and agile animals, able to climb and jump. Despite their small size, domestic cats can run up to 50 km/h 🚀 over short distances.
Cats also share the fast metabolism of dogs 🐕🦺, which results in higher heart rate, respiratory rate and temperature than humans.
A- General Characteristics and Special Adaptations
The average weight of the domestic cat ranges from 2.7 to 4.5 kg , although among non-domestic cats weights up to 12.7 kg are not uncommon. The average lengths are 71.1 cm 📏 for males and 50.8 cm for females. In accordance with a carnivorous habit, the cat has a simple intestine; the small intestine is only three times longer than the body.
The cat's skin, made up of dermis and epidermis, regenerates and fights infection quickly. Tiny erector muscles, attached to the hair follicles, allow the cat to bristle all over the surface. So, although the cat is a relatively small animal, it can frighten its enemies by arching its back, bristling and hissing.
B- Coordination, Movement and Musculature
Cats are among the most specialized carnivorous mammals. Their brains are large and well developed. Cats are digitiform, that is to say, they walk on their tiptoes . Unlike the dog and the horse, the cat walks or runs by first moving the front and rear legs to one side, then the front and rear legs to the other side; only the camel and the giraffe move similarly.
The cat's body has great elasticity . Since the vertebrae of the spine are held together by muscles rather than ligaments, as in humans, the cat can lengthen or contract its back, arch it upwards or cause it to oscillate along the vertebral line. The construction of the shoulder joints allows the cat to turn its front paw in almost any direction. Cats are powerful animals 💪 and so well coordinated that they almost always land on their feet if they fall or are dropped.
C- Cats Teeth
Cat teeth are suited for three functions: stabbing 🔪 (canines), anchoring (canines) and cutting (molars). Cats do not have crushing, flat-crowned teeth and therefore cannot chew their food; rather they cut it. With the exception of the canines and molars, the cat's teeth are more or less non-functional; most cheek teeth do not even come together when the mouth is closed.
The dental formula for all cats, for each side of the upper and lower jaws, is as follows: 3/3 incisors, 1/1 canines, 3/2 premolars and 1/1 molars. The total number of teeth 🦷 is 16 in the upper jaw and 14 in the lower jaw . The primary teeth, or milk teeth, are 24 in number; they are replaced by permanent teeth after about five months.
Each half of the jaw is hinged to the skull 💀 by a transverse roller that fits into a groove on the underside of the skull, making grinding movements impossible, even if the cat had teeth suitable for grinding.
D- Cat Pads
As in dogs, the lower part of the paw in cats is covered with thick elastic 🐾 pads that cushion the foot and help ensure a good grip on many types of surfaces.
E- Retractable Claws
Cats have much more adapted and complex claws than those of dogs. The claws of felines are very sharp and curved, which makes it easier to grab prey 🐦 when hunting or to slash them when fighting for territory. The claws are retractable, so they don't get in the way or make noise when walking or running.
There is a remarkable mechanism to retract the cat's claws when not in use. The claw is retracted or extended by rotating the terminal toe bone, which bears the claw, over the tip of the next bone. The action that draws the claws also spreads the toes, making the foot more than twice as wide as it normally is and turning it into a truly formidable weapon.
This claw sheathing mechanism is present in all species of the cat family , except in the cheetah 🐆. Although there are no nerve endings in the nail itself, blood capillaries are present in the inner part.
Many cats frequently claw , scratch, or knead furniture, bedding, curtains, and other types of materials in order to remove the outer layers of their front claws and keep them sharp. It is obvious that this habit can be very destructive. The solutions include providing a scratching post as an alternative and periodically clipping the claws.
F- The Cat's Rough Tongue
The tongue of all cats, which has a patch of sharp, backward-pointing spines near its tip, called filiform papillae, looks and feels like a coarse file ; the thorns help the cat to groom itself. The disposition to cleanliness is well established in cats, and they groom themselves extensively, especially after meals.
G- The Senses: Vision, Smell, Touch and Hearing
Cats usually have nocturnal habits 🌝. The retina of the cat's eye is made very sensitive to light by a layer of guanine, which causes the eye to glow at night under strong light. The eyes themselves, large with pupils that expand or contract into simple slits depending on the density of light, do not distinguish colors clearly.
Cats have a third eyelid, or nictitating membrane, commonly called the scale. Its appearance is frequently used as an indicator of a cat's general health. The tapetum lucidum, a reflective layer behind the retina, increases the amount of light for night vision 👀 in many nocturnal vertebrates. It reflects light outwards and thus gives visual pigments a second chance to absorb very low intensity light.
A cat's sense of smell , which is particularly well developed in adults, is crucial for the evaluation of food, so a cat whose nasal passages are blocked as a result of illness may seem to have completely lost its appetite. . Cats can distinguish the smell of nitrogenous substances (for example, fish) with particular acuity.
The sense of touch is acute in cats . Eyebrows, whiskers, cheek hair, and fine tufts of ear hair are all extremely sensitive to vibrational stimulation. The functions of the whiskers (vibrissae) are only partially understood; we know, however, that if they are cut, the cat is temporarily immobilized. The toes and paws, as well as the tip of the nose, are also very sensitive to touch.
Cats also have a keen sense of hearing . Their ears contain nearly 30 muscles 👂 (compared to 6 in humans); therefore, they can turn them much faster in the direction of a sound than a dog can. Cats' ears are receptive to ultrasonic frequencies up to 85,000 vibrations per second, which far exceeds the hearing abilities of dogs, which register 35,000 vibrations per second.
Cats have been known to travel hundreds of miles to find their owners in new homes where they have never been themselves 🤯. Dogs have also performed such feats of so-called psi (psychic) trails. Scientists have been unable to find a physiological or psychological explanation for this ability.
3) Habitat and Distribution of Domestic Cats
The domestic cat can live almost anywhere in the world 🌍 ; it does well in all types of climates. Some are indoor cats that live exclusively in a house or apartment and others live outdoors, but in general, many owners allow them to come in and out as they please. These animals have the freedom to roam and explore!
Not all domestic cats have homes, in many communities a large number of them roam freely , which is a problem. They search for food and find various places where they can shelter and thus the risk of disease is very high within these populations.
4) Habits and Diet of Domestic Cats: Nutrition
Domestic cats remain largely carnivorous , and have evolved a simple gut suitable for raw meat. They also retain the rough tongue which can help them clean every last bit of an animal's bone 🦴 (and groom themselves). Their diet, however, varies according to the whims of humans and can be supplemented by the hunting successes of the cat itself.
Many foods on offer contain some form of meat. There are wet and dry cat foods that vary. Owners often have to experiment with several foods before choosing one that their cat will like. They can be very picky and turn their noses up and not touch anything they don't like.
Cats should have a diet similar to that of their wild counterparts . They are adapted by nature to be flesh eaters, as shown by their digestive tract and dentition. The cat uses its canines to catch and kill its prey, the molars to cut them. The cat has a short intestine, and its stomach secretes digestive juices which act mainly on the meat. However, like all carnivorous animals, cats occasionally ingest grass and other plants, and small amounts of vegetables can serve as both a laxative and hair remover.
A carnivore's system is not equipped to handle a high proportion of carbohydrates or to digest grain materials. It is therefore prudent to review 🕵♀️ the ingredient list of commercial cat foods , including "prescription" foods, which often contain species-unsuitable ingredients and have no logical place in the diet. a cat's diet.
By getting as close to the natural diet of carnivores as possible by feeding them a meat-based, low-carb diet, many of the most common ailments and diseases 🤢 that are not only painful for cats, can be eliminated , but also quite expensive. Cat experts advise against feeding cats all-dry, manufactured foods, as cats often prefer these foods as they grow up, to the point of refusing other, healthier foods.
5) Breeding Cats
Cats reach breeding age between 7 and 12 months. A breeding female can be in heat, or in estrus, up to five times a year. During these periods, which last about five days, the cat "calls" 🗣️, or moos, intermittently. The gestation period for cats lasts an average of 60 to 67 days , and birth usually takes around two hours.
At birth, babies 👶 cats are called kittens and the litter can be up to 5 kittens and is on average three kittens, but the Abyssinian usually has fewer, the Siamese more. Each kitten is born in a separate amniotic sac which is usually opened at the time of birth. If not, the mother breaks it. She also cuts the umbilical cord and eats the placenta (which in many cases stimulates lactation).
A- The Baby Cat: the Kitten
Kittens are born blind, deaf and helpless, like many other carnivores; their senses begin to function 10 or 12 days after birth. Shortly after birth, the mother licks her kittens; this action cleans them and helps to stimulate their circulation. The young are weaned at around 6 weeks of age. At birth, kittens have no distinctive color ⚪ , and many don't acquire their characteristic markings and colors for weeks. For example, Siamese kittens are born white, while Blue Persians have tabby markings and Black Persians are brown.
B- Sterilization of the Domestic Cat
Unlike wild cats which reproduce once a year, the domestic cat is capable of bearing up to three litters per year. Traditionally, the regulation of the feline population was done by the selective culling of newborns. In modern times, however, sterilization (by means of relatively safe and simple operations called sterilization, castration or alteration) has become commonplace in wealthy societies 🏘. Sterilization is also considered a measure of adaptation to indoor life.
Male spaying , ideally around six or seven months of age, helps control the adult male cat's tendency to "spray", i.e. mark objects in and around the house with his own urine. Castrating the cat can help reduce the incidence of breast cancer, in addition to eliminating uterine disease and unwanted litters.
6- The Lifespan of Cats
The lifespan of the domestic cat can vary considerably. Some of them only live a few years due to injuries or illnesses. Those who have loving 🥰 and caring owners can easily live 15 years . A cat's genetic profile, however, often determines the quality of life. Many of them tend to suffer from diseases such as arthritis, loss of hearing or sight.
Neutered cats live longer than unneutered cats, in part because they have less desire to roam. The average life expectancy of the cat is 10 to 15 years; the oldest registered cat has reached the age of 38 🎅 .
7) The Different Breeds of Domestic Cats
There are many different cat breeds, including Abyssinian, Himalayan, Maine Coon, Manx, Persian, Scottish Fold, and Siamese, to name a few. The Cat Fanciers' Association, which is the world's largest purebred cat registry, recognizes approximately 40 distinct breeds . The most familiar cats are domestic shorthair cats and domestic longhair cats, which are actually mixtures of different breeds.
Cat breeds differ in appearance, coat length, and other characteristics, but vary relatively little in size. If you are interested in cats, you can discover the majority of cat breeds and a lot of information about each of them.
8) The Behavior of Domestic Cats
Many say that the domestic cat has the life we all dream of . Someone who waits for them, the possibility to be alone as much as possible and to relax. Most domestic cats are very independent and they spend a lot of time relaxing in the sun or taking naps.
They are very playful as kittens , but as they get older this need seems to disappear. They purr 🔊 often, which is a sound that their owners have come to take to mean that they are very relaxed.
A- Cat Communication: Purring
The cat has a subtle repertoire of facial expressions , vocal sounds , and tail and body postures that express its emotional state 😃 and intentions. These different signals serve to increase, decrease or maintain social distance.
Cats communicate by marking trees, fence posts, or furniture with their claws or trash. These scent posts are meant to inform others about a cat's home range . Domestic cats use a vocal repertoire that ranges from purring to crying.
A particular social behavior is rubbing the side of the head, lips, chin, or tail against its owner and against furniture. These regions of the cat's body contain scent glands that seem to play a role in establishing a familiar smell in the cat's environment.
While lions 🦁 and other big cats roar, domestic cats and other species of felines purr. Purring has been described as a low, continuous, crackling buzz and is often interpreted as an expression of pleasure or contentment. However, purring also occurs in injured and suffering cats , so this vocalization can be considered the cat's "mantra" - that is, a relaxing, comforting sound and a friendly signal that conveys the mood.
B- Hunting Abilities
Like their wild relatives, domestic cats are natural hunters able to stalk their prey and pounce with sharp claws and teeth. They are particularly effective at night 💫, when their light-reflecting eyes allow them to see better than most of their prey. Cats also like to have acute hearing. All cats are nimble and nimble, and their long tails promote their exceptional balance.
C- The Sleep of the Domestic Cat
Cat sleep habits 💤 are different from those of dogs and humans. Both dogs and humans have long periods of REM sleep (rapid eye movements), the stage that is associated with dreaming. On the other hand, the cat rarely falls into REM sleep. On the contrary, he has a lighter, episodic sleep pattern that allows him to rest but be instantly alert.
D- The Behavior of a Sick Cat
When sick, the cat tends to withdraw into itself and become inactive, which helps it conserve its energy. A sick cat may seem lifeless ☠️ , but it recovers after a few days of withdrawal, which is one of the reasons why cats are said to have nine lives. (A sick cat should always be taken to a veterinarian, however).
E- Temperature Regulation
Cats retain heat better than they cool, although their small size relative to their large surface area provides more efficient cooling than dogs. Cats lose heat 🔥 by external radiation . They have sweat glands that promote evaporative cooling, and licking their fur further enhances this process.
Heat is also lost through panting, although this is not as efficient a method of cooling as in dogs. Cats also look for dark and cool places 🍃 to shelter from the heat of the day. Like all animals, cats should never be locked in a car or other warm, confined space. This can lead to heatstroke and death.
F- Behavioral Problems
In the conditions of domestication, the cat is subject to various factors which result in behavior indicating emotional distress and difficulties in adapting to the family environment 🏡. Some behaviors are not abnormal but are difficult for owners to accept.
The Feeling of Insecurity in Cats
The most common behavior problem in pet cats is that they sometimes urinate and defecate outside the litter box in the house. Organic causes include feline urological syndrome (inflammation of the bladder and urinary stones, or calculi, in the urinary tract), blocked or affected anal glands, and constipation.
Emotional causes include the addition of a new family member - another cat, child or spouse. Such changes can cause a feeling of insecurity in the cat, which then deposits urine and feces in the house, possibly as a territorial mark of security.
Cats 🐱 are creatures of habit , and any change in family structure or daily routine - resulting, for example, from moving house or even rearranging furniture - can be stressful.
Domestic Cats Scratch a Bit of Everything
Another common behavior problem in cats is their natural desire to rake objects such as curtains and furniture with their claws . Surgical removal of front claws to prevent property damage is normally repugnant to cat lovers. To satisfy this behavioral need, cats can be trained to use carpeted scratching posts around the house, which can be a combination of cleaning and sharpening the claws and territorial marking.
Healthy, active cats often run around the house like they're crazy. These "evening boobies" 🤪 (which can also break out early in the morning) result from the old rhythm of the cat actively hunting at dawn and dusk. In the home environment, this normal, instinctive behavior still often occurs, much to the dismay of some owners who fear their cat may have rabies, a brain tumor, or an unstable personality.
Changes in animal behavior should therefore not be viewed as psychological (or as mere disobedience, such as when a cat suddenly becomes undomesticated), as there may be an underlying physical cause. Nevertheless, abnormal behavior in animals often has a non-physical, psychological, or emotional origin , which should always be considered in the diagnosis and treatment of pet diseases.
9) The Origin and History of Cats
The "cat model", established very early in the evolution of modern mammals, has been successful: the first cats already had a typical form at a time when the ancestors of most other types of modern mammals were barely recognizable. They first appeared during the Early Pliocene 🦕 (5.3 to 3.6 million years ago), and they continued with remarkably little change until modern times.
Interestingly, the ancestors of the other common domestic animal, the dog, were social animals that lived together in packs in which there was subordination to a leader, and the dog easily transferred its allegiance as leader from pack to human master.
The cat, however, did not give in to submission so easily . Therefore, the domestic cat is able to return to full autonomy 🐅 faster and more successfully than most domestic dogs. For an account of the cat family's relationship to other carnivores, see carnivore.
10) The Cat's Relationship with Humans: Domestication
Although the origin of the domesticated cat is hidden in antiquity, studies involving mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) suggest that there have been two lineages of Felis catus . A lineage (F. silvestris silvestris) appeared in Asia Minor 🌏 probably 6,400 years ago and spread to northern and western Europe.
The other lineage appeared in Egypt some time ago, between 6,400 and 1,000 years ago, before spreading throughout the Mediterranean (possibly by human introduction) along paths parallel to the trade routes 🚢 of the region . Cats of both lineages continued to mate with the African wildcat (F. silvestris lybica) during their respective dispersals.
A- The First Association Between the Cat and the Human
The oldest known association between cats and humans probably dates back to the origins of agriculture 👨🌾 in the Middle East, around 9,500 years ago . A cat skeleton accompanying that of a human from this time has been discovered in southern Cyprus. Although some sources note that this find suggests that cats had undergone some degree of domestication in this location, other sources argue that cats may have domesticated by choosing to live in human-modified landscapes.
B- Cats: Rodent Eaters and Harvest Saviors for Humans
Fossil evidence found in China, dating back around 5,300 years, has revealed that cats similar in size to modern house cats fed on small grain-eating animals , such as rodents, and millet in agricultural settings.
Although research suggests that these cats were actually leopard cats (Prionailurus bengalensis), which were replaced by modern domestic cats (F. catus) before 3000 BC, this discovery suggests that humans allowed cats to hunt mice 🐭 and other rodents that threatened grain supplies and may have fed the cats or allowed them to eat leftover food.
C- Cats and Egyptians
Although the cat 🐈 was proclaimed a sacred animal in Egypt during the 5th and 6th Dynasties (c. 2465-c. 2150 BC), it had not necessarily been domesticated at that time. It is likely that the ancient Egyptians became associated with the cat because they realized its value in protecting granaries from rodents. Their affection and respect for this predator led to the development of religious cat cults and the worship of cats in temples. For example, Bastet , an Egyptian goddess had a cat's head. However, there are no authentic records of domestication prior to 1500 BC.
D- The Cat in Other Cultures
Cats have long been known in other cultures. In Crete, wall tiles dating from 1600 BC depict hunting cats. Evidence from art and literature indicates that the cat was present in Greece from the 5th century BC, and tiles depicting cats appeared in China from 500 BC.
In India, the cat is mentioned in Sanskrit writings around 100 BC, while the Arabs and Japanese 🇯🇵 were only introduced to the cat around 600 AD . The first mention of cats in Britain dates back to around 936 AD, when Howel Dda, Prince of South Central Wales, enacted laws for their protection.
11) Cat Stuffed Animals
You may be surprised to learn that the domestic cat is one of the most popular pets in the United States. They are more common than dogs because they are easier to care for. But another species, cat stuffed animals are even more widespread in France .
While these stuffed animals are not often thought of when talking about stuffed animals, cat stuffed animals don't need much care, just cuddles and time to play with your child. So let your child adopt a cat plush 🧸 right now!