Cats Kill Other Animals for food, which means they are part of the order Carnivora (meat eaters) along with about 200 other species, including bears, Pandas, dogs, hyenas, raccoons, and weasels. There are four groups within the cat family: the small cats, which includes 28 different Species including domestic cats and cats as diverse as the small black-footed cat and the large puma; the large cats (the lion,tiger jaguar, leopard, and snow leopard); and two groups consisting of only one cat each, the cheetah and the clouded leopard. Wildcats are native to every continent except Australia, where they have been introduced by humans, and Antartica. The domestic cat is descended from one species of small wildcat, Pelis silvestris, which is still found today in parts of Europe, western Asia, and Africa. The small cats differ from the large cats not only because they are smaller but also because they are unable to roar. Cats have remarkably well-developed senses, fast movements, and very sharp teeth, and are the most highly specialized meat eaters of all the carnivores.
ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES
Carl von Linné (Linnaeus;1707-1778) was a Swedish botanist. He invented the system of giving Latin names to plants and animals. He called the domestic cat Felis Catus and the lion Felis Leo.
The puma, or cougar, is an oversized small cat that can purr like a tabby. It lives in North and South America. The first European settlers thought it was a lion but couldn’t understand what had happened to its man
This inhabitant of North America looks like a lynx without the long ear tufts. It is the most common wild cat in North America but is seldom seen.
Today, there are nearly as many breeds of domestic cats as there are breeds of dogs. They are all descended from the wildcat (Felis silvestris).
Small cats include all the smaller wild cats as well as the domestic cat. All the small cats live on their own and hunt by night. They are found all over the world in a great variety of habitats, and tragically, many have been hunted almost to extinction for their soft, beautifully patterned fur.
The big cats are at the top of the hunting pyramid and require a great deal o meat. They have always been fewer in number than the small cats, which are more easily able to find .sufficient food for their needs.
Odd cats out
Two members of the cat family are distinct from all others — the Clouded leopard and the cheetah. The Clouded leopard is a large animal but does not roar like the other big cats, nor does it groom or rest like a small cat. The cheetah is unique because it is a running cat; all others are
The tiger is the largest and heaviest of all the cats. It is a night hunter, preying on animals smaller than itself. Tigers are found from tropical India to icy Siberia.
ON THE SCREEN
The lion has often been used as a symbol of quality. One of the best-known advertising cats is the MGM lion, seen here practicing his roar.
THE DESCENT OF THE CAT
The relationships and fossil history of the different cats are not fully understood. In this diagram, the cheetah is separated from all the others and is called a running cat because it is unique in being able to chase its prey at incredible speed. However, it kills its prey in the same way as all cats — by leaping on it and biting into its neck. All other cats are called leaping cats because they slowly stalk their prey and then leap on it.
The cheetah is unlike all other cats — it does not have sheaths over its claws (pp. 14—15) and it can run at great speed. This ability is an adaptation to life as a hunter on the African grasslands where there are many other competing carnivores.
The clouded leopard is about the size of a small leopard but is not closely related. It lives in the forests of Southeast Asia but is rarely seen and is in danger of extinction. Like the true leopard, it often climbs trees.
Read More Articles: THE HISTORY OF CAT FROM THE FIRST DAY ON EARTH