There is an abundance of cat information out there. To make it easier for you, I have compiled several bits of cat information for you to enjoy, all in one place.
As an owner of two amazing cats, I’m always interested in learning new things about cats.
After sharing more than ten years with my two kitties, I’ve learned a lot about cats. Things such as their characteristics and their behavior, for example. And yet, there’s always something new to learn about cats.
General cat information
Even though the term cat can be used to describe any of the felines that belong to the Felidae family, in this article the term cat is used to refer to the domestic cat. Here's some general cat information:
- The cat’s scientific name (subspecies) is felis silvestris catus or felis silvestris domesticus. Cats belong to the Felidae family, which also includes the lion, lynx, ocelot, tiger and leopard.
- Cats are obligate carnivores. This means that cats primarily eat meat, though they do eat grass and leaves. The best known "cat grass" is catnip.
- If you own a cat you know that cats are extremely agile hunters. In fact, cats are one of the best predators among carnivores. Their bodies are extremely flexible and are designed for hunting.
Physical characteristics of cats
Every time I look at my cats, I’m fascinated by their grace and beauty. No wonder cats’ beautiful shape has inspired many an artist.
Indeed, cats have appeared in art throughout history. Cats have captured the imagination of painters, sculptors, writers, cartoonists, and even musicians. Cats are truly beautiful animals.
Here are some of the physical characteristics of cats:
- Cats have round heads, wide faces and small muzzles.
- They have pointy ears and highly sensitive whiskers around their mouths.
- Cats have large eyes and excellent eyesight. They are able to see very well in dim light. They also have excellent night vision. In bright light, the iris will close to reduce the amount of light on the retina.
- Felines have short jaws with sharp canine teeth and strong molars.
- Cats’ tongues have very sharp small protuberances (known as papillae), which are very useful for grooming, and for removing meat from their prey.
- The cat’s sense of taste is highly developed. According to scientists, however, cats can’t detect sweetness.
- Felines’ sense of hearing is excellent but their sense of smell is not as developed as in dogs.
- Domestic felines have very sharp claws, which they can retract when not in use. Cats use their claws for fighting, climbing trees, hunting and capturing their prey. They can also use their claws to scratch your furniture and anything "scratch-able" (drapes, bedding, etc.) That is why having a scratching post is so important.
- Cats’ bodies are extremely agile. They can run very fast and they are excellent jumpers. Cats also enjoy climbing trees.
- Domestic cats vary in size. Male cats might weigh from 9-14 lbs. Females can weigh from 6-10 lbs. There have been reports of cats weighing more than 25 lbs, but this is unhealthy for the cat. One exception is the Maine Coon cat, which can weight from 13 to 25 pounds.
- Cats’ coats also vary in length and color: white, brown, black, orange and gray. In addition, a cat’s coat can have stripes, spots or patches of varying colors. One of the most common patterns is the tabby, which resembles the coat pattern of the cat's ancestors. This pattern comes in different colors: orange, silver, and gray.
The domestication of felines
Cats’ domestication is relatively recent - compared to the domestication of dogs. I've read that cats have been domesticated for at least five millenia. Artifacts found on a Neolithic grave showed that cats were in contact with humans around that time.
Ancient Egyptians domesticated cats to protect their barns from mice and rats. Most likely, the ancient Egyptian domestic cat was a descendant of the North African wildcats (Felis lybica).
Indeed, cats were held in high regard in ancient Egypt. They were believed to be divine beings. Cats were venerated by the ancient Norse culture as well.
Today, cats are one of the most popular pets in the world. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, in the United States alone there are more than 70 million cats.
More fun morsels about cats
- Domestic cats usually sleep from 12-16 hours.
- Cats are very clean animals and will groom themselves regularly. Sometimes cats will vomit hairballs, which are balls of fur that they have ingested during their grooming.
- Indoor cats can live between 15 to 20 years.
Fun cat information
Cats are one of the most popular pets, if not the most popular pet, in the U.S., and they have managed to become a very important part of our lives. Here are some fun tidbits of cat information:
- A purebred cat (sometimes also called a show cat) is a cat whose ancestry has been recorded. Interestingly, less than one percent of the cat population is purebred. It must be pointed out that not all show cats are purebred.
- Famous cartoon cats include: Felix the Cat, Garfield, and Sylvester the Cat.
- Famous literary cats include: Puss in Boots, The Cheshire Cat (from Alice in Wonderland), Crookshanks (Hermione’s cat in the Harry Potter book series), and who can forget the memorable cats in T.S. Eliot's poem Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.
More Cat Info - Cat Breeds
This is a very short list of cat breeds:
- American Bobtail
- American Shorthair
- British Longhair
- British Shorthair
- European Shorthair
- Maine Coon
- Russian Blue
For more info on cats and breeds, also check...
--We Are Siamese - All about the beautiful and enigmatic Siamese cat.
--Cat facts - interesting feline trivia
--More facts about cats
Books on Cats
For additional cats information, here are a few books you might enjoy. These books also make wonderful gifts for cat lovers.
The Encyclopedia of the Cat by Michael Pollard
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Cat Breeds by Angela Rixon
Why Do Cats Always Land on Their Feet?: 101 of the Most Perplexing Questions Answered about Feline Unfathomables, Medical Mysteries and Befuddling Behaviors by Marty Becker and Gina Spadafori
For more books about cat information and other cat topics visit our cat book page.
More cat information
Why do cats purr? Learn about it here
How do cats purr?
Learn About the Importance of a Balanced Cat Diet
Cat care information
Plants that are poisonous to cats
Cat myths and legends
The feline mating game
How long are cats pregnant?
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