Cats, were domesticated early in times as pets for killing rats and mice. Although individual cat breeds vary significantly, two broad category types exist: large and small. With some exceptions, big felines exhibit round pupils, eat lying down, and have elastic segment to hyoid bone, thus a roar. Small felines show a slit pupil, eat standing, and hard hyoid bone allowing them to purr.
The cat (Felis catus), also known as the domestic cat or house cat to distinguish it from other felines, is a small carnivorous species of crepuscular mammal that is often valued by humans for its companionship and its ability to hunt vermin. It has been associated with humans for at least 9,500 years.
A skilled predator, the cat is known to hunt over 1,000 species for food. It is intelligent and can be trained to obey simple commands. Individual cats have also been known to learn on their own to manipulate simple mechanisms, such as doorknobs. Cats use a variety of vocalizations and types of body language for communication, including meowing, purring, hissing, growling, squeaking, chirping, clicking, and grunting. Cats are popular pets and are also bred and shown as registered pedigree pets. This hobby is known as the "Cat Fancy".
Until recently the cat was commonly believed to have been domesticated in ancient Egypt, where it was a cult animal. However a study by the National Cancer Institute published in the journal Science found that all house cats are probably descended from a group of as few as five self-domesticating desert wildcats Felis silvestris lybica circa 8000 BC, in the Near East.Physiology of Pet Cats and Kittens
Cats typically weigh between 2.5 and 7 kg (5.5-16 pounds); however, some breeds, such as the Maine Coon, can exceed 11.3 kg (25 pounds). Some have been known to reach up to 23 kg (50 pounds) due to overfeeding. Conversely, very small cats (less than 1.8 kg / 4.0 lb) have been reported.
Cat senses are attuned for hunting. Cats have highly advanced hearing, eyesight, taste, and touch receptors, making the cat extremely sensitive among mammals. Cats' night vision is superior to humans although their vision in daylight is inferior. Humans and cats have a similar range of hearing on the low end of the scale, but cats can hear much higher-pitched sounds, up to 64 kHz, which is 1.6 octaves above the range of a human, and even one octave above the range of a dog. A domestic cat's sense of smell is about fourteen times as strong as a human's. To aid with navigation and sensation, cats have dozens of movable vibrissae (whiskers) over their body, especially their face. Due to a mutation in an early cat ancestor, one of two genes necessary to taste sweetness may have been lost by the cat family.
Cats conserve energy by sleeping more than most animals, especially as they grow older. The daily duration of sleep varies, usually 12-16 hours, with 13-14 being the average. Some cats can sleep as much as 20 hours in a 24-hour period. The term cat nap refers to the cat's ability to fall asleep (lightly) for a brief period and has entered the English lexicon - someone who nods off for a few minutes is said to be "taking a cat nap".
Due to their crepuscular nature, cats are often known to enter a period of increased activity and playfulness during the evening and early morning, dubbed the "evening crazies", "night crazies", "elevenses" or "mad half-hour" by some.Feeding and Diet of Pet Cats and Kittens
Cats are classified as obligate carnivores, because their physiology is geared toward efficient processing of meats, and lacks the efficient processes for digesting plant matter. The cat cannot produce the amino acid taurine, and, as it is contained in flesh, the cat must eat flesh to survive. Similarly as with its teeth, a cat's digestive tract has become specialized over time to suit meat eating, having shortened in length only to those segments of intestine best able to break down proteins and fats from animal flesh. This trait severely limits the cat's ability to properly digest, metabolize, and absorb plant-derived nutrients, as well as certain fatty acids. For example, taurine is scarce in plants but abundant in meats. It is a key amino sulfonic acid for eye health in cats. Taurine deficiency can cause a condition called macular degeneration wherein the cat's retina slowly degenerates, eventually causing irreversible blindness.
The liver of a cat is less effective at detoxification than those of other animals, including humans and dogs; therefore exposure to many common substances considered safe for households may be dangerous to them. In general, the cat's environment should be examined for the presence of such toxins and the problem corrected or alleviated as much as possible; in addition, where sudden or prolonged serious illness without obvious cause is observed, the possibility of toxicity must be considered, and the veterinarian informed of any such substances to which the cat may have had access
For instance, the common painkiller paracetamol or acetaminophen, sold under brand names such as Tylenol and Panadol, is extremely toxic to cats; because they naturally lack enzymes needed to digest it, even minute portions of doses safe for humans can be fatal and any suspected ingestion warrants immediate veterinary attention. Even aspirin, which is sometimes used to treat arthritis in cats, is much more toxic to them than to humans and must be administered cautiously. Similarly, application of minoxidil (Rogaine) to the skin of cats, either accidental or by well-meaning owners attempting to counter loss of fur, has sometimes proved fatal.
In addition to such obvious dangers as insecticides and weed killers, other common household substances that should be used with caution in areas where cats may be exposed to them include mothballs and other naphthalene products, as well as phenol-based products often used for cleaning and disinfecting near cats' feeding areas or litter boxes, such as Pine-Sol, Dettol (Lysol), hexachlorophene, etc. which, although they are widely used without problem, have been sometimes seen to be fatal. Ethylene glycol, often used as an automotive antifreeze, is particularly appealing to cats, and as little as a teaspoonful can be fatal. Essential oils are toxic to cats and there have been reported cases of serious illnesses caused by tea tree oil, and tea tree oil-based flea treatments and shampoos.
Many human foods are somewhat toxic to cats; theobromine in chocolate can cause theobromine poisoning, for instance, although few cats will eat chocolate. Toxicity in cats ingesting relatively large amounts of onions or garlic has also been reported. Even such seemingly safe items as cat food packaged in pull tab tin cans have been statistically linked to hyperthyroidism; although the connection is far from proven, suspicion has fallen on the use of bisphenol A-based plastics, another phenol-based product as discussed above, to seal such cans.
Many houseplants are at least somewhat toxic to many species, cats included and the consumption of such plants by cats is to be avoided.