Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cat

All cats, from large jungle cats to small house cats, belong to the cat family, Felidae, order Carnivora. This article discuss about the domestic cat, Felis cetus, a species indigenous to the Old World that includes such relates forms as the European Wildcat, F. catus sylvetris, the African Wildcat, F. catus lybica, and perhaps some other distinct groups. The domestic cat is apparently not a separate species; there is evidence of hybridization and interfertility between it and the wild races.


Cat History


The domestic cat has evolve as an urban scavenger and may have originated about 8000 BC, when nomadic human settled into village life. From archaeological and anatomical evidence, however, it is impossible to distinguish wild from domestic types until New Kingdom times (1570-1085 BC) in Egypt. The cat was then bred by a religious cult and worship as a sacred animal, but this episode of cultism has perhaps been exaggerated; it was not critical in bringing about the domestication of the species. The Egyptians domesticated many species, and the cat may simply have been bred to protect granaries from rodents. Because cat mummies are so numerous, in fact, it has been killed for votive offering.



The spread of domestic cats appears to have followed the pattern of progressive urbanization. Domestic cats now inhabit every continent except Antarctica and most of the world's oceanic islands. Cats have reverted to a wild state in many habitats where they were not originally found.



The Cat as Scavenger


Apart from a decrease in body size, the most notable anatomical contrast between domesticated and wild cats is the increased intestinal length in the former. This may correlate with the domesticated cat's turning from chiefly predatory to chiefly scavenging habits, and the resulting reliance on a low-protein diet; theoretically; increased small-intestinal length would maximize absorption of amino acids. One study of the stomach contents of stray city cats revealed that only 3 percent of their diet comprised rodents; the balance was garbage. Many studies have been devoted to the question of the depredations of cats on birds. Cats would seem to have only a modest effect, and generalization are risky.



Breeding Habits


The breeding cycle is controlled by sensitivity to light. At equatorial latitude, cats may breed throughout the year and have three or four litters. In temperature latitudes, they normally have one litter in the early spring and another in late summer. Domestic cats living under artificial light may breed at any time. Reproductive life begins at 7 ½ months and continues until advantage age 15 years or more. The gestation period is usually 63 days, and the average litter is four kittens.

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