cat (Patas) is a domestic animal which seems to go back around Egyptian civilization. During that time they were considered sacred animals to the gods, and consequently they were worshiped by everyone in Egypt. Since then they have accompanied the human being and have become one more member of many current families around the world.

They are similar to other felines with a strong, flexible body with quick reflexes, sharp retractable claws, and teeth adapted to kill small prey. We can find more than 70 recognized cat breeds.

Domestic cat
Domestic cat

Cat breeds

  • Abisinio
  • American Curl
  • Turkish Angora
  • Russian blue
  • Balinese
  • Bengali
  • Bombay
  • Norwegian Forest
  • British shorthair
  • British Short Hair Blue
  • British long hair
  • Burmese
  • Burmilla
  • Carthusian
  • Cornish rex
  • Devon rex
  • European Short Hair
  • Exotic short hair
  • German Rex
  • Highland Fold
  • Himalayo
  • Javanese
  • Korat
  • Maine Coon
  • M
  • Egyptian Mau
  • Neva Masquerade
  • Ocicat
  • Oriental Short Hair
  • Persian
  • Peterbald
  • Ragdoll
  • Burma Sacred
  • Scottish Fold
  • Selkirk Rex
  • Siamese
  • Siberian
  • Snowshoe
  • Somali
  • Sphynx
  • Van Turco

Features

The domestic cat, like humans, has increased its life expectancy as medicine has evolved. In the 80s the cat lived for about 7 years and in 1995 it increased to 9,4 years and today they can live up to 15 years. However, some cats can live for more than 30 years, such as the cat named Creme Puff who died at a verified age of 38.

They are very similar to other felines with a size between 23 - 25 cm in height and about 46 cm in length (only head and body) with about 30 cm of tail, weighing between 4 and 5 kg, some breeds have reached records of about 11 kg and stray cats that have more limited access to food than domestic cats tend to be lighter, reaching adult cats weighing less than 2 kg. The world record for the heaviest cat is 21 kg.

They have 13 thoracic vertebrae (one more than humans), 7 lumbar vertebrae (5 for humans), 3 sacral vertebrae (5 for humans), and a varying number of caudal vertebrae located on the tail, which humans do not have. These additional vertebrae allow the cat great mobility and flexibility that is complemented by the fact that its front legs are attached to the shoulder by freely floating clavicle bones, making it easy for them to pass their entire body through any space where their head passes.

They are able to walk precisely with great precision because they place each hind leg (almost) directly into the corresponding front leg footprint, allowing them to minimize noise and visible footprints. This also provides them with a secure base for their hind legs that will help them navigate rough terrain. When cats walk, they move both legs on one side of the body before the legs on the other, a trait they share with giraffes and camels. As the cat's walk accelerates, the cat's gait becomes a "diagonal stalk", as in other mammals, where it will move the front and rear legs diagonally opposite simultaneously.

An adult specimen has about 30 teeth made up of 12 incisors, 4 canines, 10 premolars and 4 molars, which allow them to bite and tear the flesh like a pair of scissors. When it grabs its prey, it will drive its two long canine teeth between two of the prey's vertebrae causing irreversible paralysis and death. Domestic cats have closely spaced canines because they have adapted to their preferred prey, small rodents.

Although their tongue has spikes with which they clean any remaining meat from the bones, which is very beneficial for the cat to maintain its oral hygiene, its teeth are also prepared with a thicker layer of enamel, less harmful saliva, less accumulation of food between the teeth and a diet lacking in sugar.

As in all cats, its claws are sharp (more in the front than in the back), used to grab its prey effectively. They are retractable which allows them not to touch the ground when it is not necessary and thus keep them sharp. They are also used for climbing. On their legs they have soft pads located on the underside of their legs that allow them to walk smoothly and run quickly.

Another ability of the cat is the so-called "righting reflex" which helps the cat to turn its body during a fall and straighten up using its keen sense of balance and flexibility. The minimum height necessary for this to occur is about 90 cm. Tailless cats such as the Manx and Cymric breeds also have this ability, since it only depends on their body and the movement of their legs, the tail being almost unnecessary for this skill. If we were to throw a cat about 3 feet high, it would straighten up and land on its feet.

Senses

The senses are one of the best in the animal world. They have excellent night vision, but their daytime vision is worse than human. This is because it reflects any light that passes through your retina back to your eye. The color gamut is quite poor, as they have two types of cones optimized for sensitivity to blue and yellowish green, with red and green being very limited.

Hearing is also excellent, being able to detect an extremely wide range of frequencies from 55 Hz to 79.000 Hz, a range of 10,5 octaves. You can hear the ultrasound that is used to detect rodents that use them to communicate. Its large ears amplify sounds and distinguish the direction of noise.

Smell is acute due to its developed olfactory bulb with an olfactory mucosa surface of 5,8 cm2, which is twice that of humans. This allows them to communicate through urine by being able to recognize the phermone 3-mercapto-3-methylbutan-1-ol.

Their sense of taste is less developed and they have very few taste buds compared to humans (470 for cats, compared to 9.000 for humans). This limits them when it comes to perceiving certain flavors such as sweetness, however they can taste acids, amino acids such as proteins and bitter flavors.

The cat's whiskers are extremely sensitive to touch and most of them are located on the face. They are mobile and help them to get information about the width of the gaps and the location of objects in the dark. They do not need to touch them with their whiskers, because they are also capable of detecting them by drafts. Whiskers also help the cat to protect its eyes from damage by activating blinking reflexes.

Diseases

Domestic cats are monitored by a veterinarian as they can be affected by various diseases such as infections, parasites, injuries and chronic diseases. The cat will be vaccinated to eliminate parasites such as worms and fleas.

Behavior

Cats are active both during the day and at night, although they tend to be more nocturnal. Due to living with humans, their activity may vary as it will be influenced by that of the human being.

He spends almost the day sleeping an average of 18 hours a day, and the time he is awake is spent looking for food. Some domestic cats enjoy the company of a human and other animals (such as dogs), some can even show affection towards other humans. Ethologically, the cat can see the human who cares for it as its mother and will use watery sounds imitating the cries of a human baby to ask for food, this cry is super effective since it is difficult for humans to ignore. Cats are believed to rub themselves together to establish social bonds.

The vast majority have a fascination for settling in high places or on perches. In the wild, a higher place can serve as a hiding place, a place to search for the next prey or to monitor their territory. For a domestic cat, like a leopard, it is easy to hit its prey by jumping from a tree branch.

Communication

To communicate with other cats or humans they will use purrs, trills, hisses, growls and various forms of meows. It will also communicate with various types of body language, indicating its mood with the position of its tail, ears, and kneading of its legs. For example, a raised tail indicates a friendly greeting and flattened ears indicate hostility. If they are in a group, the lifting of the tail indicates the place of hierarchy that it has.

Domestic cat sleeping
Domestic cat sleeping

Personal cleanliness

Cat grooming is well known, as they spend a lot of time licking their hair to keep clean. The tongue is special because its papillae contain keratin that makes them rigid and acts like a hairbrush.

Cats with longer hair often vomit hairballs. This is because they swallow the remains of hair that have accumulated on their papillae when grooming, for this reason it is advisable to brush occasionally.

Aggressiveness

Some domestic cats can be aggressive, males will be more likely to be than females. In stray cats the most common reason is the fight between two male cats to mate with a female. In domestic cats the most common reason may be the dispute between territories in a small home or the protection of kittens.

When a cat is aggressive it will show an arched back, hair up and will hiss showing its teeth to further intimidate its opponent. The ears will point back to protect the rear, as the cat will be focused on its front. Normally in fights they try to slap and grab the opponent in the face and body using their front legs and if the situation requires it they will bite. They can also use their hind legs to defend themselves by diving to the ground to rake the belly.

Serious damage rarely occurs, as the fights are short and the loser will flee with little more than a couple of scratches on the face. However, the most severe fights do exist and take place during the mating season and the fights can include deep wounds and lacerations, which can become infected and if not treated could kill the cat. We also have to take into account that bites are the main route of transmission of the feline immunodeficiency virus. The cats most affected by fighting are sexually active males.

To prevent aggressive behaviors, it is best to go for sterilization, since most cases the aggressiveness in a domestic cat comes from sex hormones.

Speed

Cats are agile and flexible, but they are also incredibly fast. The average house cat can out-speed the average house dog (excluding breeds born to run like the greyhound) in a sprint. In medium and long distance races the dog will win, that is why the most effective thing for the cat is to quickly find an unattainable shelter for a dog.

The fastest cat breeds are the Egyptian Mau, the Abyssinian cat, the Somali cat, the Bengal cat, the Savannah cat, the Manx cat (capable of speeding up and jumping for the hunt like there is no tomorrow with twists jerks), the Siamese cat, the ocicat cat and the Oriental Shorthair.

Games

House cats are very playful. For younger cats this behavior mimics hunting and is very important for their development as it will help them learn to stalk, capture, kill their prey or confront other cats.

Due to the similarities, cats prefer toys that imitate their prey, especially those furry ones that move quickly, although when they get used to it they will get bored of the toy. Another common toy is a ball of wool, but this can cause problems since it can be swallowed (the thread) and can cause problems for the cat, including surgical intervention. Although it can be replaced by a laser pointer.

Stray cats

Their behavior is highly variable, ranging from widely dispersed individuals to colonies of feral expenditure that congregate around a food source and cooperating females. Within those groups there will be a dominant cat. These groups will form large territories marked by urine where the territories of the males will be three times as large as that of the females.

If a cat enters a territory, its owners will try to scare it away by staring at it, hissing and growling, if it does not work it will proceed to attack it with short attacks. However, there are also neutral territories where they greet each other without any conflict. Despite belonging to large colonies, the cat does not have the feeling of a pack and is very lonely, so it will hunt alone.

However, some cats do not socialize very well, particularly older ones, who can become aggressive towards newly arrived cats, attacking them. This type of behavior is called "feline asocial aggression"

Habitat

The cat is a very adaptable animal and can live in the highest mountains and in the hottest deserts and that is why they are found all over the world, with the exception of Antarctica. Stray cats can live in forests, grasslands, tundra, the coast, farmland, urban areas, and wetlands. The domestic cat still has certain similarities with its close relatives such as the African wildcat and the Arabian sand cat that inhabit desert environments, making it the most invasive animal species in the world.

Food

The cat's vision during the day does not differ much from human sight, therefore they prefer to hunt small rodents and birds at night, since their night vision is more developed. They prefer food with a temperature around 38 ° C, which is very similar to that of a freshly killed prey. If the food is cold or frozen, it will indicate to the cat that the prey is not recent and may be toxic, decaying or lethal.

Predators

You may think that cats do not have predators, as they are in the care of humans, but that does not mean that they are not out of danger. In urban areas they can be hunted by dogs or by humans who look bad for the pests that they cause or are victims of chemicals. Outdoors or in country areas they can be easy prey for birds of prey, owls or large mammals such as coyotes, wolves or other cats such as the bobcat.

Reproduction

Cats are seasonally polyester, that is, they can have several periods of heat that last between 4 - 7 days occurring every two weeks beginning in spring and ending in late autumn.

Courtship

The male cats will fight over the females and the winning cat will earn the right to mate with her. At first the female will reject the male, but will eventually let him mate. In the mating process, the female will emit a loud howl because the male's penis has about 120 - 150 spines (1 mm long) pointing backwards and when withdrawing the penis, it will tear the walls of the cat's vagina, which which acts as an ovulation inducer. It also serves to clean the vagina of other foreign sperm, in case the female has mated with others, thus increasing the probability of conception.

Mating

After mating, the cat will clean her vulva. While doing it, the female will reject other males attacking her, but after about 30 minutes (once she has cleaned herself) she will be ready to mate again.

In cats ovulation is not discouraged by a single mating, as the female will appear with several males while she is in heat and they cannot be impregnated by the first male they mate with. In addition, cats are superfect, therefore, a female mating with several males can lead to a litter having different parents.

Gestation

Gestation lasts between 64 and 67 days with an average of 66 days. The litter has between three to five kittens and they can have two or three litters a year, so in a decade a cat can have up to 150 kittens but the size of the litter will vary since the first one will be smaller than the following.

Birth

Kittens are weaned between six and seven weeks of age, reaching sexual maturity at 5 - 10 months in females and 5 - 7 in males, although it will change according to the breed of cat. At 12 weeks they are ready to abandon their mother and live on their own and at seven weeks they can be neutered to avoid unwanted reproductions and all the undesirable behavior that accompanies the reproduction of the cat.

State of conservation

The domestic cat is classified as a species of least concern, as it is widespread throughout the world and inhabits many homes. In many cases it can even be considered a pest and specimens can be sacrificed or controlled since it is a very invasive species.

Relationship with humans

Cats are very common pets around the world and their population now exceeds 500 million. Although in the past cats were associated with women, a 2007 Gallup poll in the United States assigned the same probability of having a cat between men and women.

In addition to being used as pets, they are also useful in the industry since they are useful to create skins and leathers to make coats, hats, blankets and stuffed toys, shoes, gloves, musical instruments respectively (it takes 24 cats to make it) but this use has been prohibited in the United States, Australia, and the European Union.

Cat contests

Cat contests are held to compete for beauty, agility, and temperament. The cats will be compared with a series of requirements that they must meet according to the breed standard and the closest cat will win and its owner will receive a prize. In some countries, points accumulated in various local competitions are added to award regional and national prizes. Both pedigree and non-pedigree cats compete, although they will be judged differently based on breed and organization.

Coffee for cats

This type of coffee uses cats as a claim. The client pays by the hour and can pet and play with the cats for as long as they have paid, basically it is like a supervised cat rental. These types of coffee are very popular in Japan where having a pet is very expensive.

Ailurofobia

Although the term is associated with humans who hate cats, Ailurophobia is actually a human phobia of cats.

Cat bites

Cats can bite when provoked during play with them or when they are aggressive. A cat bite is very different from other pets and can become complicated. This is because the cat's teeth, being sharp and pointed, pierce the skin deeply, and generally, the skin closes over the bite, locking the bacteria in the body and causing infection.

Infections transmitted from cats to humans

Cats can transmit infections to humans and infect them with bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, arthropods or worms that can lead to serious diseases. The humans most likely to be infected by a cat are its owners, and to a lesser extent, outsiders through feces and parasites that leave the cat's body, but it will also depend on age and immune status. The most dangerous diseases are salmonella, cat scratch disease, and toxoplasmosis.

History and mythology

It has always been believed that the cat was domesticated 3.600 years ago, in Egypt due to all the paintings of domestic cats that have been found but in 2004 a Neolithic tomb was found in Shillourokambos, Cyprus that contained the skeleton of a human and a cat that was quite large, very similar, to the current African wild cat. It is estimated that this cave is about 9.5000 years old, which forces us to displace the origin of the domestication of the cat. This discovery, together with genetic studies, places the beginning of domestic cats in the Middle East, in the Fertile Crescent around the time of the development of agriculture, and then they were brought to Cyprus and Egypt.

In ancient Egypt the cat was a sacred animal, like the Ibis.. The goddess Bastet was often depicted in the form of a cat and killing a cat was absolutely forbidden. The historian Herodotus reported that when a domestic cat died the whole family would cry and shave their eyebrows. The cats were taken to Bubastis (the sacred city of cats) where they were embalmed and buried in sacred deposits.

Cats and the Black Death

If the Egyptians considered cats as gods, long ago, in the Middle Ages they were classified as companions of witches and sorcerers (between 1180 and 1200). The Catholic Church considered that Satan was reincarnated in cats to advise her devilish minions. By 1400, cats were practically exterminated in Europe.

But in 1348 Medieval Europe paid dearly for ignorance and the Black Death spread throughout the territory for 200 years (approximately), causing the death of a quarter of the population, that is, of the 100 million European inhabitants 25 millions died. The families were greatly affected as each had more than one death.

The cause of the Black Death was the bacterium called Yersinia Pestis that infected rats and was transmitted to humans through their fleas, then it was transmitted from human to human. And who was keeping the rat population at bay? The cats, but with the burning of cats by the Church the rat population increased and the rat flea had a free way to spread to humans. The reaction of the humans of the time was to consider the Black Death as a witch spell and the killings of cats multiplied.

It was not until the XNUMXth century that the gató flourished again in Europe, bringing the continent back to its natural balance and eradicating the Black Death.

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