History of The Cat


Cats pretty much domesticated themselves. They learned over time that humans could be beneficial, in that they were excellent sources of food (either due to humans directly feeding them, or because the humans' own food sources inevitably attracted rodents, which were also a source of food for cats).

So-- why, and how, did cats became domesticated? Because of food!

All of the below facts were mined from other sources, which can be found on the References page.

More images of the page mascot, Graybie:

Graybie on a bicycle Graybie close up Graybie under a Christmas tree Graybie with a skirt Graybie as a kitten Graybie stuck indoors Graybie playing Connect 4 Graybie ventures outside

Common Characteristics of Cats

Cat Characteristics
General Characteristics:
Latin Name: Number of cat breeds: Popular American Names: Lifespan: Fun Fact:
Felis catus Over 70! Oliver, Leo, Simba, Luna, Chloe 15 years (Domesticated) Spaying or neutering increases life expectancy
Cat Eyes
Characteristics & Facts
Vision: Limitations: Anatomy: Colors: Fun Fact:
Cats can see at only one-sixth the light level required for human vision Domestic cats have poor color vision Cat eyes have a special layer of issue in their eyes that reflects light through the retina and back, increasing sensitivity to dim light Domestic cats' eye colors range from blue, green, yellow, orange and brown Cat owners should slowly blink or wink when directly looking at their cats. This sends a message they're not a threat
Cats cannot see in total darkness Cats are sensitive to blue & yellow-green, less so to red and green Domestic cats have slit pupils There is generally little relation between fur color and eye color Cats interpret staring as intimidation and rivalry
Cats have a greater range of peripheral vision than humans Cat vision is sharpest 2-3 feet away from their face It is the special layer of tissue in their eyes that causes cat eyes to glow in a camera flash White cats are more likely to have blue eyes than cats of other color When cats are relaxed, their eyes become half-opened as if they're falling asleep
Extra cells in cat eyes allow cats to sense motion in the dark Cats don't see detail like humans do, but they are better at seeing fast moving objects A cat's pupils will expand to cover most of the surface of its eyes when light levels are low A kitten’s true eye color is usually apparent as it reaches 4 months old A cat's pupil indicates emotional state: a narrow pupil can mean anger or irritation, a wide pupil shows fear or excitement
Cat Ears
Characteristics & Facts
Hearing: Limitations: Anatomy: Numbers: Fun Fact:
Cats can hear higher-pitched sounds than either dogs or humans Folded or curled ears are caused by genetic mutations Large movable outer ears ("pinnae"), amplify sounds & help detect the direction of a noise Cats have over 20 muscles that control their ears Flattened ears indicates hostility
Cats can hear ultrasound (important in hunting) The ears are critical to a cat's balance Hair tufts in the ear keep out debris & help direct sound into the ear Cats can hear sounds at great distances (four or five times farther than humans) A mutation causes deafness in blue-eyed white cats
Sensitive hearing is useful especially for non-domesticated cats for hunting & safety Kittens are born with ear canals that are closed (effectively deaf) Cats can move their ears separately Cats can hear 100,000 hertz (five times that of humans) The deaf ear will always be on the side with the blue eye(s)
Ear mites are the most common disease of the feline ear A cat with a tipped ear means they are likely feral, & have been spayed or neutered
Cat Tails
Characteristics & Facts
Function: Behavior: Anatomy: No Tail: Fun Fact:
A cat's tail is used to indicate mood, & warnings A raised tail acts as a friendly greeting Tails average around 30 cm (12 in) in length The Manx breed of cat have varying lengths of tails The domestic cat is the only feline that can hold its tail in a vertical position while walking
The primary purpose of your cat’s tail is balance A tail curved beneath the body signals fear 20 bones are located in the tail for flexibility Manx cats carry one gene for a full tail, and one for taillessness; they can have kittens with or without tails Most tail movements are voluntary, however some are not
The tail acts as a counterweight A puffed up tail indicates a cat is severely agitated & frightened Cats have scent glands along their tail The lack of a tail also affects the development the spine & spinal cord The cat's tail is an extension of the spine
Domesticated cats use their tails to communicate with people & other cats A tail curved like a question mark indicates a playful mood A cat's tail can be broken, or kinked (a hereditary trait) The Manx is thought to have an especially sensitive vestibular apparatus (inner ear organ), which helps them adjust during a fall Some cats have a habit of sucking their tail, possibly a throwback to kittenhood
Cat Mouth (Muzzle)
Characteristics & Facts
Teeth: Whiskers: Tongue: Nose & Breath: Fun Fact:
Cat teeth are adapted for killing prey & tearing meat Whiskers aid in navigation and sensation Cats have fewer taste buds than humans Cats lose heat by evaporation through their mouths (panting) Cats have a distinct temperature preference for their food (roughly 100° F)
Cats' small molars cannot chew food well Whiskers are moveable & can be found all over a cat's body, but mostly on their face Cats have no ability to taste sweetness Cats have an acute sense of smell (2x better than humans) Domestic cats use many vocalizations for communication (purring, hissing, growling, meowing)
Cats have 30 adult teeth and 26 baby teeth Whiskers detect the width of gaps, & the location of objects in the dark A cat's tongue has backwards-facing spines, which act like a hairbrush during grooming About 70% to 80% of cats are affected by the organic compound nepetalactone (found in catnip!) After a cat has eaten its prey, it will groom to remove all traces of scent
Cavities are rare in cats Whiskers sense both by touching objects directly & by sensing air currents Cats use a lapping method with their tongue to draw liquid upwards into their mouths The cat has no unique anatomical feature that is clearly responsible for purring! The texture, size & shape of food determine whether a cat likes or rejects it
Cat Feet
Characteristics & Facts
Paws: Legs: Claws: De-clawing: Fun Fact:
Cats walk directly on their toes Free-floating clavicle bones which allow cats to squeeze through any space that fits their head Cats have protractable and retractable claws Scratching is normal cat behavior: to remove the dead husks from claws, mark territory, & stretch muscles Cats are capable of walking very precisely, one foot behind the other, thereby minimizing noise & tracks
Sweat glands are located in their paw pads Cats use a "pacing" gait, moving the two legs on one side of the body before the legs on the other side (like a camel or giraffe) When relaxed, claws are sheathed with the skin & fur around the toe pads Declawing involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe Outdoor unneutered males (Tom Cats) cover 3 to 5 miles of previously marked territory every day
Cats can be left-pawed or right-pawed, like humans A cat's gait changes to a "diagonal" gait as they speed up, like other mammals (diagonally opposite hind & fore legs move simultaneously) Most cats have five claws on their front paws, & four on their rear paws Removing claws changes the way a cat's foot meets the ground, causing pain while walking A healthy domestic cat can reach speeds up to 31 miles per hour for a short period
A cat's paws are very sensitive, which is why they don't like it when they're touched A cat can jump up to six times its length Cats' claws grow continuously, just like human nails To keep cats from scratching, train them on scratching posts, use sticky tape on furniture, or research nail caps like SoftPaws Some breeds of cats are prone to polydactyly (extra toes and claws)!