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Cats

Satisfactory Essays
Cats

All cats, from jungle cats to house cats, belong to the cat family,

Felidae, order Carnivora. The cat family, Felidae, order Carnivora, contains about 36

species that are usually grouped into two to four genera, depending on the classification

system used. According to one common system, four genera exist: Panthera (jaguar,

leopard , lion, tiger), Neofelis (clouded leopard), Acinomyx (cheetah), and Felis (puma,

lynx, and smaller cats such as the domestic cat, Pallas's cat, and the wildcat). Cats are

native to all continents except Australia and Antarctica.

We've all heard that cats have nine lives, that bit of folklore is fitting for a creature

that has survived some 30 million years of environmental changes. A key factor is their

ability to balance between general survival and specialized skills. Strong muscles for

example, allow cats to climb.

Cats have short, rounded heads, erect ears, and large eyes with vertical-slit pupils.

The pupils are considered adaptations for nocturnal existence. There are 28 to 30 teeth,

depending on the species. The canines, or fangs, are large and strong and used for

stabbing prey. The carnassials, a pair of teeth on each side of the jaw--the last upper

premolar and the first lower molar--are formed into large, cross-shearing blades for

cutting meat. The tongue is covered with sharp, curved projections (papillae) used for

rasping meat off bones, cleaning the fur, and drinking. The neck is thick and heay to

withstand he shocks of the violent actions of the head and teeth.

Cats have five toes on each front foot and four toes on each hind foot

and are known as digitigrade--that is, they walk on their toes; the fifth digit, or thumb

(dewclaw), is carried high on the leg. All cats except the cheetah have large, curved, sharp

claws that can be retracted into sheaths on the toes to prevent them from becoming

blunted, but many cats walk by placing the hind feet in the tracks of the forefeet.

Cat's coats often camouflage them, yet the same environment can shelter cats with

wildly different markings. Patterns may help individuals recognize mates and kin. Color

blotches on an ear or tail may help young cats spot their mother while trudging though

long grass.

A cat's keen sight is the best known of its senses, lets it stalk and hunt in the

darkness. Cat's have binocular vision like us, binocular vision enhances cat's depth

perception which is an important tool for pinpointing prey.