The cat is a carnivorous feline and four-footed mammal, which has lived with humans for about 9500 years, occupying a prominent place in the early culture of ancient societies.
There are dozens of breeds of cats, with pronounced morphological and character differences, but in its totality the species presents behavioral traits typical of a predator, with pronounced intelligence and agility. Hence the saying that the cat always lands on its feet.
The domestic cat is related to the big African cats, it is estimated that its closest relative is the wild cats of the Middle East. The first registered case of domestication of a cat is presumed on the island of Cyprus, in antiquity.
Characteristics Of Cats
Phylogenetic studies published in 2007 in scientific publications affirm that the different breeds of cats, fruit of hybridization and centuries of artificial selection, contain traces of the genetics of five first wild cats that were domesticated almost 10,000 years ago in the Middle East.
It is often thought that the ancient Egyptians would be the first to include the cat in their domestic life, as well as in their religious representations, in which they enjoyed an important place. But they may well have been the ancient Assyrians or some predecessor culture.
Scientific deductions suggest that the process of domestication would have begun in antiquity, motivated by the easy hunting of rodents that parasitized human settlements.
2. Life cycle
Cats are born in litters of 1 to 10 pups, after a gestation period of about two months, and newborn pups will accompany the mother for a period of at least 30 days.
Sexual maturity is reached after 4 to 5 months in the female and 6 to 7 in the male. The heat lasts 4 to 7 days, several times a year, during which the female meows much more frequently and the males compete for the right to copulate. Finally, the winner must then confront the female, who will resist the union until finally submitted.
Fertilization seldom occurs at the first attempt. Once the copulation is over, the female undertakes a period of grooming during which she is particularly hostile.
3. Life expectancy
The life expectancy of the average cat is about 12 to 14 years, but the females can even live a couple of years more. Sterilization and captivity may prolong the period, although street cats in urban environments usually do not exceed two years of age.
The old age of the cat is abrupt, unlike the human, and usually lasts a whole year, until death occurs. During this stage the animal will show few dowries of energy and will sleep most of the time.
4. Behavior and sociability
Cats are born hunters and are little given to the constitution of communities. They have a strong territorial instinct and are highly independent, the latter makes them popular as pets. A marked contrast with its wild variant, whose tendency to social grouping is much more pronounced.
Their communication is established from meows and body language, mainly, although males are given to urination as a form of territorial marking, which accuses a communicative system based on odors, similar to canine. They are also highly sensitive to stress, being able to develop erratic and aggressive behaviors.
The coat of the cat can be as varied as its race, but broadly distinguishes two types of race: those with short hair and long hair, both held by mestizas. The percentage of purebred cats in the world does not exceed 10% of the total individuals.
Regarding the coloration, the coat can vary between monochrome, combinations of colors and various tint colors (called roman cats). However, the incidence of three or four colors in the same cat tends to favor females, while males tend to monochromy or bichromy.
The artificial selection imposed as a result of its domestication has favored the proliferation of certain tones, shapes and colors of fur on others. However, studies reveal that the greatest variation of color occurred in the species during the initial moments of its domestication, before the emergence of the numerous existing breeds.
Cats are animals with high energetic wear, so they usually sleep in abundance throughout the day. Their nocturnal nature activates them at sundown, so they can be more energetic and demanding after that time.
The breeds of short hair, in broad strokes, tend to be much thinner and restless, while those with long hair tend to gravity and lethargy. In general, they tend to a fast cardiac cycle, conserving a body temperature between 38 and 39 centigrade, slightly higher than that of humans.
As an inheritance of its purely carnivorous past, cats are unable to synthesize some of the essential fatty acids. Hence also that their livers are particularly sensitive to fat and are less effective than the human or canine to detoxify the bloodstream. Consequently, foods such as chocolate, with too high levels of theobromine, could be lethal for a cat.
7. Scientific classification
The scientific name of the animal commonly called cat is Felis silvestris catus, which supposes a domestic subspecies of wild cats. However, the scientific literature accepts the use of Felis silvestris for free-living cats and Felis catus for those who live among us.
Related to the great feline predators, the cats inherited their excellent sense of vision and hearing, as well as a slender and agile body endowed with fangs and retractable claws.
There is no specific nomenclature in Spanish for sets of cats as it exists for dogs (pack), or for cats in their stage of breeding. “Colony” and “puppy” are used, respectively, by default.
8. Most common diseases
Since the cat groomes itself by constant licking, which makes it extremely practical in terms of hygiene, it tends to ingest its own hair and accumulate it inside the stomach, where it is then regurgitated and expelled. If these balls of hair could not be discarded in this way, they could accumulate and block the intestine, requiring surgical intervention.
On the other hand, overweight is common in home cats that have low daily activity and / or excess food. While the breed and size of the animal should be taken into account, a healthy cat should not exceed 4.5 kilograms in weight. Obesity in cats, as in humans, leads to diabetes mellitus, hepatic lipidosis and vascular risks.
Other common diseases are toxoplasmosis, transmissible to man and particularly dangerous for the health of pregnancy. Toxoplasmosis is transmitted by contact with the feces of the infected cat, and this in turn by other cats or by feeding on infected rodents. The best method of prevention is to accustom it to feeding exclusively on controlled foods, and to have the relevant tools for the elimination of their feces.
Finally, it is known in cats the transmission of the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), a cat variant of AIDS; of the Feline Leukemia Virus (VLF); of rabies and numerous internal and external parasites, such as the mite that produces scabies.
9. Place in culture
Since entering the circle of human civilization, the cat has been an enigmatic animal, attractive and disturbing at the same time. For the ancient Egyptians they represented animals highly associated with the sacred: not for nothing did their goddess Bastet, responsible for the protection of the home and of everyday harmony and happiness, be represented with a feline head.
Eastern traditions are regarded as guardians of wisdom, as in the Tibetan tradition, or as funerary companions in the transit to the world of the dead.
He was also linked at the time (which survives to this day), with a symbolic model of aggressive femininity, taciturn, present in the feline part of the sphinxes, for example.
The Judeo-Christian tradition, on the other hand, which prevailed in the West during the Middle Ages, always looked upon the cat with a bad eye, perhaps rejecting its Asian origin or its close connection to pagan religious representations.
He was an ally of witchcraft and occultism, a mascot of dark alchemists and priests, and he used to burn them alive or throw them from the roofs of buildings. From there, also, its association with the bad omen (in the case of black cats) or the attribution of its seven or nine lives, which still lasts.
10. Classification of races
Although it is estimated that there are more than 50 different breeds of cats, the best known can be classified into four lines, according to their complexion and appearance:
Short hair, body not very long and heavy. For example the Persian or the Himalayan.
Semi-long hair. Quite numerous. Like the Turkish Angora or the Maine Coon.
Short hair. The most common of all, covers 18 different races, such as the European, the Russian Blue or the Sphynx.
Oriental type. Slender and muscular, like the Siamese.