Felis catus

domestic cat

Felis catus

domestic cat

Everyone knows the domestic cat, but not everyone knows that this is an invasive species. This means that there are so many domestic cats that they threaten world biodiversity. People breed cats in breeding farms and often unwisely allow them to reproduce completely without control. Domestic cats also thrive in the wild, which is why abandoned cats form colonies and live on the streets.

Description

There are many breeds of domestic cats. The most commonly used catalogue of pedigree cats was created by the Federation Internationale Feline.

Fully recognised breeds – category 1
EXO – Exotic
PER – Persian
RAG – Ragdoll
SBI – Sacred Birman
TUV – Turkish Van

Fully recognised breeds – category 2
ACL – American Curl Longhair
ACS – American Curl Shorthair
LPL – LaPerm Longhair
LPS – LaPerm Shorthair
MCO – Maine Coon
NEM – Neva Masquerade
NFO – Norwegian Forest Cat
SIB – Siberian
TUA – Turkish Angora

Fully recognised breeds – category 3
BEN – Bengal
BLH – British Longhair
BML – Burmilla
BSH – British Shorthair
BUR – Burmese
CHA – Chartreux
CYM – Cymric
EUR – European
KBL – Kurilean Bobtail Longhair
KBS – Kurilean Bobtail Shorthair
KOR – Korat
MAN – Manx
MAU – Egyptian Mau
OCI – Ocicat
SIN – Singapura
SNO – Snowshoe
SOK – Sokoke
SRL – Selkirk Rex Longhair
SRS – Selkirk Rex Shorthair

Fully recognised breeds – category 4
ABY – Abyssinian
BAL – Balinese
CRX – Cornish Rex
DRX – Devon Rex
DSP – Don Sphynx
GRX – German Rex
JBT – Japanese Bobtail
OLH – Oriental Longhair
OSH – Oriental Shorthair
PEB – Peterbald
RUS – Russian Blue
SIA – Siamese
SOM – Somali
SPH – Sphynx
THA – Thai

The cat has great eyesight and hearing, and its smell is four times more sensitive than human’s. Domestic cats have vibrissae, which is hair that can feel. It is located on the muzzle above the lip, on the cheek and above the eyes, but also on the inside of the front paws. Those whiskers help them locate objects and protect them from damage to their eyes, sensing even small movements of the air. Each touch of the vibrissae shuts the eyelids closed unconditionally. The vibrissae protrude on the width of the cat’s body, thanks to which it knows whether it will fit into a given hole.

They have five fingers in the forepaws, and four in the rear. Their claws are very sharp and curved. Like human’s, they grow constantly, and the cat’s way to get rid of them is scratching. Their characteristic feature is the ability to slide into the depth of the paw, which gives the cat the ability to move silently.

The tongue is necessary for survival of the cat. Without this organ, it would not be able to drink or eat. What’s interesting, cats do not feel sweet taste, but only bitter and sour.

Cat’s eyes have slanted pupils and most of them have a film that reflects light in the dark, which may look terrifying. Thanks to this construction cats can see at night, but they do not distinguish all colours.

Behaviour

The cats were originally domesticated for care and worship as divine creatures. It was about 9,500 years ago. Later on, practical thinking and the use of cats to exterminate pests around the home began to prevail.

At present, a lot depends on the character of a given individual and on upbringing. These factors determine the behaviour of the domestic cat as a salon emperor or an agile, independent helper.

Undeniably, however, cats reign on the Internet and are glorified by memes, photos and videos. You can meet them on every continent, except for Antarctica where it’s too cold for them to thrive.

Domestic cats are territorial animals. They mark the area by scratching surrounding objects, urinating on them and rubbing against them. Ungelded cats squirt strategic places with urine consisting pheromones, which gives off a sharp odour and is designed to attract an individual of the opposite sex. This behaviour manifests itself in both male and female cats. Feral males can even fight over territory that covers homes of several females.

Cats are sleepyheads. Some sleep up to 20 hours a day and the average is 14 hours. They are active both during the day and at night.
Cats move their legs variably. As they walk, they move both paws on the left and then both on the right side. It looks different when running, during which they move the paws alternately, the front left with the rear right and vice versa.

Domestic cats feel a big attraction for climbing trees, unfortunately they often don’t know how to descend. They have shorter claws in the rear paws and they cannot turn their paws like some wild cousins. However, cats have a well-balanced body, thanks to which they instinctively rotate and fall on their feet in flight.

Domestic cats become sexually matured around the first birthday. Females begin oestrus two or four times a year. Mother chooses the most secretive hideout for the place of birth. It can be a basement, a garage, a box, or a hollow in the ground. Kittens are blind for the first week or two and therefore completely dependent. For the first three months, kitties only drink milk, after this time they learn to eat meat.

Being social animals, although usually independent, domestic cats have developed many ways to communicate with other living beings. They show their mood mainly through signals sent by their tails. Arranged parallel to the ground, means calm, and pointing upward shows a playful mood. Cats and dogs are rarely able to communicate because they have a different tail communication system. When the cat is waving it, it shows that it is nervous. The dog shows joy and excitement in this way, so it’s easy to imagine a possible conflict in this field. Waving the end of the cat’s tail means interest, and together with the lowered body position – excitement.

For communication cats also use different vocalizations like purring, hissing and meowing. The position of the ears and fur, and the display of the teeth are also important.

They are very clean animals, even though most of them hate water and avoid it like fire. They use rough tongue and saliva as well as moistened paws for washing. They practice this kind of hygiene several times a day.

When in a group, cats do not form a hierarchy or principles of life organization. They live in colonies where each individual cares for its own good. In the human family everything depends on upbringing. The cat can be friendly and quite attached or unpredictable and unpleasant.

Domestic cats usually have a good hunting instinct and love to pursue fast moving targets for fun. Their favourite food are rodents and birds, but they also hunt for crawling and flying worms. They use the technique of sneaking to the victim, chasing or ambushing. They kill by biting the neck, breaking the spinal cord.

Threats

In the Middle Ages, cats were associated with black magic, an evil omen, or even considered to be the embodiment of demons. Fortunately, these superstitions are forgotten today, though some are still afraid of a black cat crossing their trail.

Nowadays, cats land on plates in China, Vietnam, and even in Switzerland as a Christmas dish. However, these are issues unimaginable for most of the human population, as cats are now the leading companions of life.

Cats often die under the wheels of cars, but this is not intentional. However, unwanted kittens are still being killed in Polish villages because people are not aware of how to prevent unwanted pregnancy of an animal. There are also human beings who hurt cats just because they do not like them.

Domestic cats are exposed to infectious diseases, parasites and conflicts with other cats or dogs. Cats are also attacked by wild animals like martens or foxes.

Author: Małgorzata Banaszkiewicz

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