Hey guys, back again with another animal you all might want to check out. Jythier suggested the...
Domestic Cat (AKA cat, house cat, kitty cat, pussycat...and whatever else you people call them) Felis silvestris catus
From the family Felidae, which encompasses all cats large and small.
A more mundane topic, but fascinating nonetheless. I guarantee most people have never though about their cats in an analytical sense. Hope you enjoy this.
The cat does not see you, it sees through you...into your very soul!
A domestic cat typically weighs in the range of 5.5-16lbs (2.5-7 kg). However, some breeds may exceed that weight and hit over 25lbs(~11kg) such as the Maine Coon. Males may reach lengths of 28 in (71 cm), and females are usually about 20 in (51 cm). Again, breeds like the Maine Coon can be larger, up to 40in (~1m).
There are two divisions of cats, shorthaired and longhaired. Aside from that, a cat's coat and patterns can vary greatly according to breed and nonpedigreed mixes. (The Cat Fanciers' Association now recognizes about 37 breeds.) Common colors are white, black, yellow, or gray. Often cats have patterns or more than one color. It's nearly impossible to encompass all the variation that cats come in in relation to coat color.
All domestic cats have retractile claws used for hunting and climbing. (and to tear the hell out of your sofa...just kidding. )
Nearly all cats possess a long tail used for balance when making quick movements and climbing.(There are some bobtailed varieties) They also possess extra lumbar and thoracic vertebrae, compared to humans, which allows for greater spinal flexibility. They have free floating clavicle bones that allow them to pass through any space that's large enough for their skull to fit through.
Their teeth are highly refined for cutting into meat. Able to function as effectively as scissors when ripping and tearing flesh. The tongue is covered in papillae that are shaped like little hooks to help remove fur from a carcass and help to remove meat, they also aid in grooming. These papillae contain keratin which is also in fingernails and toenails as well as hair. (Side note: papillae are those little bumps on your tongue that contain taste buds, so in effect these are modified taste buds. )
(Close up of hooked papillae)
A cat's ears also deserve special mention. Each ear has 32 muscles controlling it and that allows for directional hearing. Also, like a chameleon's eyes, a cat's ears are able to move independently of each other.
Cats have fairly loose skin. This allows them to be able to twist and attack a predator or challenger in a fight even if it is being held down. It also allows for mothers to easily pick up their kittens when moving them. Males also take advantage of the loose skin by holding on to the female during mating, a good idea really since the male's penis has spines on it. Actually, those are supposed to stimulate ovulation when the male withdraws.
A cat's senses are highly attuned for hunting. It surpasses humans in all senses save for daylight vision and the ability to taste sweetness. They can hear an octave higher than a dog, have excellent night vision, a sense of smell 14 times greater than a humans, and possess dozens of movable vibrissae(whiskers) all over their body with a high concentration on their face. They have 3 eyelids and on the roof of their mouth they have a Jacobson's organ like a snake.
Look around, if you or someone you know is a human chances are there are domestic cats not far from you. Since they have been domesticated (Believed to be about 10,000 years ago in the Middle Eastern area) they have been constant companions of humans and have gone where people go and live where people live.
Their ancestor, the African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica) is believed to have evolved in a desert climate. Which may explain the cat's preference for sunning itself and tolerating heat up to 126 °F (52°C ) with no discomfort. They also cannot tolerate moist cold such as fog, cold rain, or snow.
Carnivorous. The domestic cat will hunt and consume over 1,000 different prey items. Basically anything smaller than the cat becomes potential prey. When confined indoors, however, cat food is usually the only choice. Even then, if a cat is allowed outside it will still hunt.
By nature nocturnal, although when living with people it becomes active during the day as well. People often make reference to the high amount of sleeping done by cats, this is due to their metabolism. They try to conserve their energy by sleeping, and because they're efficient hunters this works out rather well for them. They can sleep between 12 and 16 hours a day and easily obtain food with the rest of their time, or if it is a house cat it can eventually make it to the food bowl.
Sociability varies. Stray cats in rural areas can live on their own, but in cities colonies develop though there is no "pack mentality", and when living with people and other pets a social group is already formed whether the cat likes it or not.
Cats seem to have an awareness about their human owners not being a cat and conversely them not being human based on their interactions with people and other cats. Whereas when interacting with other cats body language and tones which humans can't hear are used, a cat will go out of it's way to use an audible "Meow!" to get human attention as well as body language. Cats possess many vocalizations in addition to meowing including purring, hissing, growling, squeaking, chirping, clicking, and grunting. Purring professes contentment, hissing is a warning(along with arching the back and laying the ears flat against the head) and the other sounds may mean several different things such as frustration, interest, and greetings.
Body language is just as varied as vocalization if not more. Biting can be playful, aggressive, or contentedness. Kneading of the claws(usually into your flesh) is a throwback to when the kitten was suckling and stimulating milk flow, this is thought to convey happiness and relaxedness. Blinking and yawning convey trust and affection to an owner. Touching noses or rubbing against the owner also shows affection and also functions as a greeting. Licking another cat or person is part of bonding behavior. The most telltale body language of a cat comes through it's tail. Cats will twitch the tips of their tails when hunting or angry, while frequent, exaggerated twitching indicates displeasure. Tails also twitch when playing. A tail held high is either a greeting or a sign of happiness depending on the context. A frightened cat may puff up it's tail, and the hair along it's back may stand up and shift it's body sideways, to appear larger.
This kitty is angry.
Cats are very efficient and effective hunters. They will often share excess kills with their owners, either dead or injured. This may be a product of pecking order(i.e. it's a gift) or it's demonstrating it's ability and wants praise or approval.
Burying their waste seems to be a common theme with cats, and in fact are trained to use litter boxes. This may be a way of hiding their presence, but it seems they really prefer to bury. (Good thing to, that shit stinks on a different level than normal shit)
Cats spend a lot of time grooming themselves with the help of their papillae. They are meticulous about their hygiene. Their saliva functions as a powerful cleaning agent and deodorant. This sometimes leads to hairballs, but they can be prevented with regular brushing and/or specialized cat food that allows for the breakdown(or just smooth sailing) of hair in the digestive tract.
Scratching is also a common behavior and may become a problem if a proper alternative is not provided to one's furniture. The cat scratches anything rough to help remove the outer sheath of their claws keeping them sharp.
A fondness for heights has been observed. It is thought that perhaps a higher place gives a better vantage point and offer a possible ambush position.
Reproduction is pretty interesting for cats. Females are polyestrous, meaning that they can go into heat several times throughout the year. Males will fight over females and the victor earns the right to mate. The female will groom herself after mating and after she is done the male will mate again. As mentioned before the spines on the male's penis help to induce ovulation. Cats are superfecund, meaning that in one litter there can be multiple fathers if a female mates with more than one male when she's in heat. Gestation is a little over a month(63-65 days) and an average litter size is 3-5 kittens. At six to seven weeks the kittens are weaned and can go to a new home after 12 weeks. Sexual maturity is reached at 4-10 months for females and 5-7 months for males. Males are found of marking their territory by spraying urine.
The average lifespan of an outdoor-only cat is about 3 to 5 years while an indoor-only cat can live 16 years or longer.
Domestic cats are capable of sprinting at about 31 miles per hour.
When cats walk or run, they step with both left legs, then both right legs, and so forth. Most mammals alternate their legs.
Cats are prone to polydactyly, and may have six or seven toes as opposed to the normal five.
When grooming, cats lose almost as much fluid through saliva as they do when they urinate.
A group of cats is referred to as a clowder, a male cat is called a tom (or a gib, if neutered), and a female is called a queen. The male progenitor of a cat, especially a pedigreed cat, is its sire, and its female progenitor is its dam.
Cats are capable of jumping 5 times as high as they are tall.
It has been scientifically proven that owning cats is good for our health and can decrease the occurrence of high blood pressure and other illnesses.
Ailurophile is the word cat lovers are officially called.
The breeding, appreciation, and promotion is called "Cat Fancy." (Fancy can apply to any animal)
Feral cats are notorious for killing off native species, especially in isolated ecosystems like islands. Australia has been hit pretty hard with cats(as well as other feral species).
Whew, there's a lot more to cats than you thought, huh? There's a lot more that I left out...I figure this is long enough as it is.