Domestic Cat

Common Name:
Domestic Cat
Scientific Name:
Felis catus
Type:
Mammals
Diet:
Carnivore
Size:
28 inches
Weight:
5 to 20 pounds
IUCN Red List Status:
Not evaluated
Current Population Trend:
Unknown

Domestic cats, no matter their breed, are all members of one species.

Relationship with Humans

Felis catus has had a very long relationship with humans. Ancient Egyptians may have first domesticated cats as early as 4,000 years ago. Plentiful rodents probably drew wild felines to human communities. The cats' skill in killing them may have first earned the affectionate attention of humans. Early Egyptians worshipped a cat goddess and even mummified their beloved pets for their journey to the next world—accompanied by mummified mice! Cultures around the world later adopted cats as their own companions.

Hunting Abilities

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.

Communication

Cats communicate by marking trees, fence posts, or furniture with their claws or their waste. These scent posts are meant to inform others of a cat's home range. House cats employ a vocal repertoire that extends from a purr to a screech.

Diet

Domestic cats remain largely carnivorous, and have evolved a simple gut appropriate for raw meat. They also retain the rough tongue that can help them clean every last morsel from an animal bone (and groom themselves). Their diets vary with the whims of humans, however, and can be supplemented by the cat's own hunting successes.

This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
Photograph by David Rothbard, National Geographic Your Shot

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