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The domestic cat (Felis catus) is one of the most recently evolved species within the Felidae family. The Felidae family is split into three different groups;
Made up of the cats which roar; lions, tigers, jaguars as well as leopards of every kind.
The cheetah is the only extant member of the acinonyx group.
The group that includes all small cats including domestic ones.
The domestic cat is almost certainly descended
from the small wildcat, Felis sylvestris, which is still found
throughout Europe, Africa and southern Asia. Throughout this wide
geographical range, numerous different subspecies of the wildcat have
evolved as they adapted to local environment and climate.
It has taken a while for scientists to piece together just when and where cats first became domesticated. Piecing
together the history of the domestic cat has been tricky because the
skeletons of wildcats and house cats are virtually indistinguishable. It seems most likely that the original ancestor of the domestic cat was the African wildcat, Felis sylvestris libyca, which literally means "cat of the woods. This cat is only slightly larger than the domestic cat, and is often found living close to people.
The first real evidence of cats living close to humans was over 10,000 years ago. As people
settled permanently to farm the land they stored grain and this
attracted rodents. Taking advantage of this new, abundant food source,
Middle Eastern wildcats, or Felix silvestris lybica, preyed on the
rodents and decided to stick around these early towns, scavenging the
rubbish that all human societies produce—just as feral cats do today!
Over thousands of years, a new species of cat eventually evolved that naturally made its home around people.
All cats, whether domesticated or wild, have over
time evolved as predatory mammals. They all boast incredibly keen senses
of smell, hearing and sight. From only a few
weeks of age the kittens of all species of cat (including our
domesticated varieties) show instinctive behaviour typical of
hunter-killers. They are extremely alert to sounds and movements, stalk,
ambush, convert rigid stillness into rapid movements to pounce on their
prey, and they demonstrate the typical biting and clawing actions
needed to bring down and kill prey quickly.
Like their wild
relatives, domestic cats are natural hunters able to stalk 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
much of their prey. Cats also enjoy acute hearing. All cats are nimble
and agile, and their long tails aid their outstanding balance.
In the thousands of
years that cats have lived alongside people, indoor-only cats have only
become common in the last 50 or 60 years.
Throughout human history, cats have always lived
and thrived outside. It is only recently that we have begun to introduce
reproduction control like spaying and neutering to bring them indoors.
And also, bringing the outdoors to them: using canned food and litter
trays to satisfy biological needs developed over thousands of years of
Pans filled with dirt or
newspapers were used indoors by a few cats owners, but it wasn’t until
the 1960’s when the first clay cat litter was marketed in America, that
cat litter really caught on. With the invention of cat litter, cats
rocketed to popularity as indoor pets, but their outdoor survival skills
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