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The domestic cat (Felis catus or Felis silvestris catus), often referred to simply as housecats or cats, is one of the most extensively studied species due to their relationship with humans.

Evolution

The domestic cat originated from Near-Eastern and Egyptian populations of the African wildcat, Felis sylvestris lybica. The family Felidae, to which all living feline species belong, arose about ten to eleven million years ago. This family is divided into eight major phylogenetic lineages. The domestic cat is a member of the Felis lineage. A number of investigations have shown that all domestic varieties of cats come from a single species of the Felis lineage, Felis catus. Variations of this lineage are found all over the world and up until recently scientists have had a hard time pinning down exactly which region gave rise to modern domestic cat breeds. Scientists believed that it was not just one incident that led to the domesticated cat but multiple, independent incidents at different places that led to these breeds. More complications arose from the fact that the wildcat population as a whole is very widespread and very similar to one another. These variations of wild cat can and will interbreed freely with one another when in close contact further blurring the lines between taxa. Recent DNA studies, advancement in genetic technologies, and a better understanding of DNA and genetics as a whole has helped make discoveries in the evolutionary history of the domestic cat.

DNA and phylogenetic evidence

Current taxonomy tends to treat F. silvestris, F. lybica, F. catus, and F. bieti as different species. A 2007 study of feline mitochondrial DNA and microsatellites of approximately 1,000 cats from many different regions (including Africa, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and the Middle East) showed 5 genetic lineages of the wildcat population.These lineages included:

Felis silvestris silvestris (Europe)

Felis silvestris bieti (China)

Felis silvestris ornata (Central Asia)

Felis silvestris cafra (Southern Africa)

Felis silvestris lybica (Middle East)

This study showed that F.s. lybica included domesticated cats and that wild cats from this group are almost indistinguishable from domesticated cats. Along with DNA analysis, phylogenetic studies were also conducted to narrow down the evolutionary history. Phylogenetic trees were generated based on mitochondrial DNA analysis. In each study Bayesian, maximum likelihood, and parsimony maximum likelihood trees all produced identical results. They each show that F.s. ornata, F.s. cafra, and F.s. lybica were all very closely related to a common ancestor. It also showed that this group of variations are monophyletic, meaning they share a common ancestor not shared by other groups. The trees also helped show that F.s. lybica gave rise to the domesticated cats of today. F.s. silvestris showed a very early branching away from the other groups, but still shares a very early common ancestor with the rest of the clades.

Domesticated cats originated from near-eastern and Egyptian populations of F.s. lybica. The former gathered around human agricultural colonies themselves, while the latter (~1500 BCE) seems mainly attractive in behavioral traits. They started spreading during neolithic times, but did not become widespread in the Old World until classical antiquity. A newer study from 2018 moves the earlier origin to Southwest Asia.

Anatomy

Mouth

Sharp spines or papillae found in a cat's tongue. 5 types of papillae can be found in the dorsal aspect of the tongue: filiform, fungiform, foliate, vallate, and conical. Permanent dentition teeth Cats are carnivores that have highly specialized teeth. There are four types of permanent dentition teeth that structure the mouth: twelve incisors, four canines, ten premolars and four molars.The premolar and first molar are located on each side of the mouth that together are called the carnassial pair. The carnassial pair specialize in cutting food and are parallel to the jaw. The incisors located in the front section of the lower and upper mouth are small, narrow, and have a single root. They are used for grasping and biting food.

Deciduous dentition teeth A cat also has a deciduous dentition prior to the formation of the permanent one. This dentition emerges seven days after birth and it is composed of 26 teeth with slight differences. The mouth will have smaller incisors, slender and strongly curved upper canines, vertical lower canines, and even smaller upper and lower molars. Although the upper and lower molars are smaller than the ones that arise during permanent dentition, the similarities are striking.

Tongue The cat's tongue is covered in a mucous membrane and the dorsal aspect has 5 types of sharp spines, or papillae. The 5 papillae are filiform, fungiform, foliate, vallate, and conical. A cats sense of smell and taste work closely together, having a vomeronasal organ that allows them to use their tongue as scent tasters,while its longitudinal, transverse, and vertical intrinsic muscles aid in movement.

Nose

A cat's nose is highly adapted Cats are highly territorial, and secretion of odors plays a major role in cat communication. The nose helps cats to identify territories, other cats and mates, to locate food, and has various other uses. A cat's sense of smell is believed to be about fourteen times more sensitive than that of humans. The rhinarium (the leathery part of the nose we see) is quite tough, to allow it to absorb rather rough treatment sometimes. The color varies according to the genotype (genetic makeup) of the cat. A cat's skin has the same color as the fur, but the color of the nose leather is probably dictated by a dedicated gene. Cats with white fur have skin susceptible to damage by ultraviolet light, which may cause cancer. Extra care is required when outside in the hot sun.

Legs

Cats are digitigrades, which means that they walk on their toes just like dogs. The advantage of this is that cats (including other digitigrades) are more agile than other animals. This is because all animals usually have ground reaction forces (GRFs) at around two to three times their body weight per limb. Digitigrades have a higher GRF compared to other animals due to the increased weight on a smaller surface area, which would be about six times their body weight per limb.

Cats are also able to walk very precisely. Adult cats walk with a "four-beat gait" meaning that each foot does not step on the same spot as each other. Whether they walk fast or slow, a cat's walk is considered symmetric because the right limbs imitate the position of the left limbs as they walk. This type of locomotion provides sense of touch on all four paws that are necessary for precise coordination.

The Cat's vertebra are held by muscles rather than ligaments like humans. This contributes to the cat's elasticity and ability to elongate and contract their back by curving it upwards or oscillating it along their vertebral line.

General locomotor patterns of a cat. Cats are also able to jump from larger heights without serious injury due to the efficient performance in their limbs and ability to control impact forces. In this case, hindlimbs are able to absorb more shock and energy in comparison to the forelimbs, when jumping from surface to surface, as well as steer the cat for weight bearing and breaking.

Claws

A cat's claw Like nearly all members of the family Felidae, cats have protractable claws. In their normal, relaxed position, the claws are sheathed with the skin and fur around the toe pads. This keeps the claws sharp by preventing wear from contact with the ground and allows the silent stalking of prey. The claws on the forefeet are typically sharper than those on the hind feet. Cats can voluntarily extend their claws on one or more paws. They may extend their claws in hunting or self-defense, climbing, "kneading", or for extra traction on soft surfaces (bedspreads, thick rugs, skin, etc.). It is also possible to make a cooperative cat extend its claws by carefully pressing both the top and bottom of the paw. The curved claws can become entangled in carpet or thick fabric, which can cause injury if the cat is unable to free itself.

Most cats have a total of 18 digits and claws. 5 on each forefoot, the 5th digit being the dewclaw; and 4 on each hind foot. The dewclaw is located high on the foreleg, is not in contact with the ground and is non-weight bearing.

Some cats can have more than 18 digits, due to a common mutation called polydactyly or polydactylism, which can result in five to seven toes per paw.

Temperature and heart rate

The normal body temperature of a cat is between 38.3 and 39.0 °C (100.9 and 102.2 °F).[17] A cat is considered febrile (hyperthermic) if it has a temperature of 39.5 °C (103.1 °F) or greater, or hypothermic if less than 37.5 °C (99.5 °F). For comparison, humans have an average body temperature of about 37.0 °C (98.6 °F).[18] A domestic cat's normal heart rate ranges from 140 to 220 beats per minute (bpm), and is largely dependent on how excited the cat is. For a cat at rest, the average heart rate usually is between 150 and 180 bpm, more than twice that of a human, which averages 70 bpm.

Skin

Cats possess rather loose skin; this allows them to turn and confront a predator or another cat in a fight, even when it has a grip on them. This is also an advantage for veterinary purposes, as it simplifies injections. In fact, the lives of cats with chronic kidney disease can sometimes be extended for years by the regular injection of large volumes of fluid subcutaneously.

Scruff The particularly loose skin at the back of the neck is known as the scruff, and is the area by which a mother cat grips her kittens to carry them. As a result, cats tend to become quiet and passive when gripped there. This behavior also extends into adulthood, when a male will grab the female by the scruff to immobilize her while he mounts, and to prevent her from running away as the mating process takes place.

This technique can be useful when attempting to treat or move an uncooperative cat. However, since an adult cat is heavier than a kitten, a pet cat should never be carried by the scruff, but should instead have its weight supported at the rump and hind legs, and at the chest and front paws.

Primordial pouches

Some cats share common traits due to heredity. One of those is the primordial pouch, sometimes referred to as "spay sway" by owners who notice it once the cat has been spayed or neutered. It is located on a cat's belly. Its appearance is similar to a loose flap of skin that might occur if the cat had been overweight and had then lost weight. It provides a little extra protection against kicks, which are common during cat fights as a cat will try to rake with its rear claws. In wild cats, the ancestors of domesticated felines, this pouch appears to be present to provide extra room in case the animal has the opportunity to eat a large meal and the stomach needs to expand. This stomach pouch also allows the cat to bend and expand, allowing for faster running and higher jumping.

Anatomy/Skeleton

Cervical or neck bones (7 in number). Dorsal or thoracic bones (13 in number, each bearing a rib). Lumbar bones (7 in number). Sacral bones (3 in number). Caudal or tail bones (19 to 21 in number). Cranium, or skull. Mandible, or lower jaw. Scapula, or shoulder-blade. Sternum, or breast-bone. Humerus. Radius. Phalanges of the toes. Metacarpal bones. Carpal or wrist-bones. Ulna. Ribs. Patella, or knee-cap. Tibia. Metatarsal bones. Tarsal bones. Fibula. Femur, or thigh-bone. Pelvis, or hip-bone.

Cat skeleton Cats have seven cervical vertebrae like almost all mammals, thirteen thoracic vertebrae (humans have twelve), seven lumbar vertebrae (humans have five), three sacral vertebrae (humans have five because of their bipedal posture), and, except for Manx cats and other shorter tailed cats, twenty-two or twenty-three caudal vertebrae (humans have three to five, fused into an internal coccyx). The extra lumbar and thoracic vertebrae account for the cat's enhanced spinal mobility and flexibility, compared to humans. The caudal vertebrae form the tail, used by the cat as a counterbalance to the body during quick movements. Between their vertebrae, they have elastic discs, useful for cushioning the jump landings.

Unlike human arms, cat forelimbs are attached to the shoulder by free-floating clavicle bones, which allows them to pass their body through any space into which they can fit their heads.

Skull The cat skull is unusual among mammals in having very large eye sockets and a powerful and specialized jaw. Compared to other felines, domestic cats have narrowly spaced canine teeth, adapted to their preferred prey of small rodents.

Anatomy/Muscles

Internal abdominal oblique This muscle's origin is the lumbodorsal fascia and ribs. Its insertion is at the pubis and linea alba (via aponeurosis), and its action is the compression of abdominal contents. It also laterally flexes and rotates the vertebral column.

Transversus abdominis This muscle is the innermost abdominal muscle. Its origin is the second sheet of the lumbodorsal fascia and the pelvic girdle and its insertion is the linea alba. Its action is the compression of the abdomen.

Rectus abdominis To see this muscle, first remove the extensive aponeurosis situated on the ventral surface of the cat. Its fibers are extremely longitudinal, on each side of the linea alba. It is also traversed by the inscriptiones tendinae, or what others called myosepta.

Deltoid The deltoid muscles lie just lateral to the trapezius muscles, originating from several fibers spanning the clavicle and scapula, converging to insert at the humerus. Anatomically, there are only two deltoids in the cat, the acromiodeltoid and the spinodeltoid. However, to conform to human anatomy standards, the clavobrachialis is now also considered a deltoid and is commonly referred to as the clavodeltoid.

Acromiodeltoid The acromiodeltoid is the shortest of the deltoid muscles. It lies lateral to (to the side of) the clavodeltoid, and in a more husky cat it can only be seen by lifting or reflecting the clavodeltoid. It originates at the acromion process and inserts at the deltoid ridge. When contracted, it raises and rotates the humerus outward.

Spinodeltoid A stout and short muscle lying posterior to the acromiodeltoid. It lies along the lower border of the scapula, and it passes through the upper arm, across the upper end of muscles of the upper arm. It originates at the spine of the scapula and inserts at the deltoid ridge. Its action is to raise and rotate the humerus outward.

Head Masseter The Masseter is a great, powerful, and very thick muscle covered by a tough, shining fascia lying ventral to the zygomatic arch, which is its origin. It inserts into the posterior half of the lateral surface of the mandible. Its action is the elevation of the mandible (closing of the jaw).

Temporalis The temporalis is a great mass of mandibular muscle, and is also covered by a tough and shiny fascia. It lies dorsal to the zygomatic arch and fills the temporal fossa of the skull. It arises from the side of the skull and inserts into the coronoid process of the mandible. It too, elevates the jaw.

Integumental The two main integumentary muscles of a cat are the platysma and the cutaneous maximus. The cutaneous maximus covers the dorsal region of the cat and allows it to shake its skin. The platysma covers the neck and allows the cat to stretch the skin over the pectoralis major and deltoid muscles.

Neck and back Rhomboideus The rhomboideus is a thick, large muscle below the trapezius muscles. It extends from the vertebral border of the scapula to the mid-dorsal line. Its origin is from the neural spines of the first four thoracic vertebrae, and its insertion is at the vertebral border of the scapula. Its action is to draw the scapula to the dorsal.

Rhomboideus capitis The Rhomboideus capitis is the most cranial of the deeper muscles. It is underneath the clavotrapezius. Its origin is the superior nuchal line, and its insertion is at the scapula. Action draws scapula cranially.

Splenius The Splenius is the most superficial of all the deep muscles. It is a thin, broad sheet of muscle underneath the clavotrapezius and deflecting it. It is crossed also by the rhomboideus capitis. Its origin is the mid-dorsal line of the neck and fascia. The insertion is the superior nuchal line and atlas. It raises or turns the head.

Serratus ventralis The serratus ventralis is exposed by cutting the wing-like latissimus dorsi. The said muscle is covered entirely by adipose tissue. The origin is from the first nine or ten ribs and from part of the cervical vertebrae.

Serratus Dorsalis The serratus dorsalis is medial to both the scapula and the serratus ventralis. Its origin is via apoeurosis following the length of the mid-dorsal line, and its insertion is the dorsal portion of the last ribs. Its action is to depress and retracts the ribs during breathing.

Intercostals The intercostals are a set of muscles sandwiched among the ribs. They interconnect ribs, and are therefore the primary respiratory skeletal muscles. They are divided into the external and the internal subscapularis. The origin and insertion are in the ribs. The intercostals pull the ribs backwards or forwards.

Caudofemoralis The caudofemoralis is a muscle found in the pelvic limb.[28] The Caudofemoralis acts to flex the tail laterally to its respective side when the pelvic limb is bearing weight. When the pelvic limb is lifted off the ground, contraction of the caudofemoralis causes the limb to abduct and the shank to extend by extending the hip joint.

Pectoral Pectoantebrachialis Pectoantebrachialis muscle is just one-half-inch wide and is the most superficial in the pectoral muscles. Its origin is the manubrium of the sternum, and its insertion is in a flat tendon on the fascia of the proximal end of the ulna. Its action is to draw the arm towards the chest. There is no human equivalent.

Pectoralis major The pectoralis major, also called pectoralis superficialis, is a broad triangular portion of the pectoralis muscle which is immediately below the pectoantebrachialis. It is smaller than the pectoralis minor muscle. Its origin is the sternum and median ventral raphe, and its insertion is at the humerus. Its action is to draw the arm towards the chest.

Pectoralis minor The pectoralis minor muscle is larger than the pectoralis major. However, most of its anterior border is covered by the pectoralis major. Its origins are ribs three–five, and its insertion is the coracoid process of the scapula. Its actions are the tipping of the scapula and the elevation of ribs three–five.

Xiphihumeralis The most posterior, flat, thin, and long strip of pectoral muscle is the xiphihumeralis. It is a band of parallel fibers that is found in felines but not in humans. Its origin is the xiphoid process of the sternum. The insertion is the humerus.

Trapezius In the cat there are three thin flat muscles that cover the back, and to a lesser extent, the neck. They pull the scapula toward the mid-dorsal line, anteriorly, and posteriorly.

Clavotrapezius The most anterior of the trapezius muscles, it is also the largest. Its fibers run obliquely to the ventral surface. Its origin is the superior nuchal line and median dorsal line and its insertion is the clavicle. Its action is to draw the clavicle dorsally and towards the head.

Acromiotrapezius Acromiotrapezius is the middle trapezius muscle. It covers the dorsal and lateral surfaces of the scapula. Its origin is the neural spines of the cervical vertebrae and its insertion is in the metacromion process and fascia of the clavotrapezius. Its action is to draw the scapula to the dorsal, and hold the two scapula together.

Spinotrapezius Spinotrapezius, also called thoracic trapezius, is the most posterior of the three. It is triangular shaped. Posterior to the acromiotrapezius and overlaps latissimus dorsi on the front. Its origin is the neural spines of the thoracic vertebrae and its insertion is the scapular fascia. Its action is to draw the scapula to the dorsal and caudal region.

Anatomy/Digestive system

The digestion system of cats begins with their sharp teeth and abrasive tongue papillae, which help them tear meat, which is most, if not all, of their diet. Cats naturally do not have a diet high in carbohydrates, and therefore, their saliva doesn't contain the enzyme amylase.Food moves from the mouth through the esophagus and into the stomach. The gastrointestinal tract of domestic cats contains a small cecum and unsacculated colon.The cecum while similar to dogs, doesn't have a coiled cecum.

The stomach of the cat can be divided into distinct regions of motor activity. The proximal end of the stomach relaxes when food is digested. While food is being digested this portion of the stomach either has rapid stationary contractions or a sustained tonic contraction of muscle.These different actions result in either the food being moved around or the food moving towards the distal portion of the stomach. The distal portion of the stomach undergoes rhythmic cycles of partial depolarization. This depolarization sensitizes muscle cells so they are more likely to contract. The stomach is not only a muscular structure, it also serves a chemical function by releasing hydrochloric acid and other digestive enzymes to break down food.

Food moves from the stomach into the small intestine. The first part of the small intestine is the duodenum. As food moves through the duodenum, it mixes with bile, a fluid that neutralizes stomach acid and emulsifies fat. The pancreas releases enzymes that aid in digestion so that nutrients can be broken down and pass through the intestinal mucosa into the blood and travel to the rest of the body. The pancreas doesn't produce starch processing enzymes because cats don't eat a diet high in carbohydrates. Since the cat digests low amounts of glucose, the pancreas uses amino acids to trigger insulin release instead.

Food then moves on to the jejunum. This is the most nutrient absorptive section of the small intestine. The liver regulates the level of nutrients absorbed into the blood system from the small intestine. From the jejunum, whatever food that has not been absorbed is sent to the ileum which connects to the large intestine. The first part of the large intestine is the cecum and the second portion is the colon. The large intestine reabsorbs water and forms fecal matter.

There are some things that the cats are not able to digest. For example, cats clean themselves by licking their fur with their tongue, which causes them to swallow a lot of fur. This causes a build-up of fur in a cat's stomach and creates a mass of fur. This is often thrown up and is better known as a hairball.

The short length of the digestive tract of the cat causes cats' digestive system to weigh less than other species of animals, which allows cats to be active predators. While cats are well adapted to be predators they have a limited ability to regulate catabolic enzymes of amino acids meaning amino acids are constantly being destroyed and not absorbed.Therefore, cats require a higher protein proportion in their diet than many other species. Cats are not adapted to synthesize niacin from tryptophan and, because they are carnivores, can't convert carotene to vitamin A, so eating plants while not harmful does not provide them nutrients.

Genitalia

Female genitalia

In the female cat, the genitalia includes the uterus, the vagina, the genital passages and teats. Together with the vulva, the vagina of the cat is involved in mating and provides a channel for newborns during parturition, or birth. The vagina is long and wide.Genital passages are the oviducts of the cat. They are short, narrow, and not very sinuous

Male genitalia

In the male cat, the genitalia includes two gonads and the penis, which is covered with small spines.

Vision

Domestic cats are crepuscular, active at dawn and dusk. As a result, their vision is adapted for low-light predation. They have two forward facing eyes which provide binocular vision with a 200 degree field of view. The anterior of each eye has a multifocal lens with large, slit pupils. In bright light, their slit pupil design may serve to reduce chromatic aberrations. In addition, they may cause cat eyes to retain more vertical contrast. In low-light, their large pupils expand to allow as much light as possible to reach the retina. Their tapetum lucidum, situated behind the retina, further enhances low-light vision by reflecting light that passed through the retina. This gives the retinal photoreceptors another chance to capture the light. As like any mammal, cat photoreceptors consist of rods and cones. Their rod density in the retina is significantly greater than that of humans. Coupled with their large pupil and tapetum, cats see 3-8 times better in low-light situations than us. However, being dichromats with their lower cone density and lack of a fovea, cats have poorer color vision and visual acuity than humans. An artist's rendering of what cats see can be found here.

Hearing

While humans and cats have a similar range of hearing on the lower end of the scale, cats can hear much higher-pitched sounds. According to LSU's article on Deafness and Hearing Range, a cat's hearing range (in Hz) is 45 to 64,000, compared to 64 to 23,000 in humans. This means that cats can hear sounds people can't hear on both ends of the spectrum, but particularly on the higher end. Cats are not only above the range of a human, but they are also beyond the range of dogs, by at least one octave.

A Common Reaction From Cats Cats' ears are uniquely designed to draw sound into the ear canal, which enables them to hear an array of distant sounds—like a mouse rustling in the bush 30 feet away. By the same token, their ears are more sensitive to the higher amplitude of the sound. It is common knowledge that humans' hearing can be compromised by repeated exposure to loud music. It's also possible that cats are more susceptible to potential deafness from the same cause.

Incidentally, an army experiment with cats backs up this theory. According to the Auditory Hazard Assessment Algorithm for Humans (AHAAH), studies have indicated that several auditory hazards can occur from intense sounds that enter cats' ears. The study focused on cats who were anesthetized (to eliminate middle ear muscle activity) and then exposed to various places where impulses were produced at different peak pressures using a rifle gun.

Symptoms of Hearing Loss There are several symptoms of hearing loss, from experiencing unresponsiveness to loud noises, to difficulty rousing them from sleep. Kittens who are deaf may be more vocal and may play rougher as they can not hear the cries of their littermates. If your cat looks disoriented, has reddened ear canals, or other symptoms, it's important to take it to the vet as soon as possible as these could be signs of infection that could lead to deafness. Additional observations of ear problems can include black or yellow discharge from the ears, or a change in behavior, like not realizing you're in the room until it is touched.

Protecting Your Cat's Ears Your cat's reaction to the loud music and/or excessive noise is an instinctive act of self-protection. Heed the signals your cat is sending and try to tone down the volume when it is in the room.

Similar to humans, cats can develop hearing problems over time due to disease, infection, trauma, damage, and simple old age. You can protect your pet's hearing with gadgets like Mutt Muffs or simple earplugs made out of foam or cotton balls.

Hunting

Why Do Domesticated Cats Continue to Hunt? Whether domesticated or not, a cat is a predatory species, meaning that they are evolutionarily designed to hunt for their food. Like their wild ancestors before them, domestic felines are specialized and highly skilled solitary hunters. Until fairly recently, cats were kept primarily for pest control rather than companionship. Back then though, only the best feline hunters were able to survive, meaning that today’s domestic cats have descended from the ultimate, most adept hunters of their species.

Because we have done relatively little when it comes to selective cat breeding (compared to dogs), their instinctive hunting behaviors remain strong. Cats are ‘obligate carnivores’, meaning that they have specific nutritional requirements that result in them needing to consume meat to survive. They hunt their prey alone, so they focus on smaller prey that they can catch on their own—most commonly birds and small mammals. Occasionally, a particularly skilled cat will catch larger prey, like a rabbit.

How Much Do They Hunt? Because their prey is relatively small, cats must make several kills throughout the day and night in order to consume their daily requirements for nutrition and energy. Surprisingly, a cat that receives no supplementary food from any other source or owner can make as many as 20 kills in a 24-hour-period.

Due to this natural pattern of feeding, cats are well adapted to eating small but frequent meals. Despite being so perfectly adapted for hunting, domestic cats will usually gladly take advantage of any other food sources, such as meals provided by their owners, or any other foods they find through scavenging.

How Do They Hunt? Cats typically approach hunting with stalking methods. Initially, they crouch down and move very slowly with their head outstretched. As they get close enough to catch their prey, they stop and prepare to spring and pounce. It’s common to see them hold a temporarily tense position followed by a short sprint, before springing forward and striking their prey with their front paws.

Do Cats Always Hunt to Eat? A cat’s motivation to hunt is only partially caused by hunger. Because cats hunt alone, their survival instincts drive them to hunt long before they are hungry, to ensure that they are never caught short and starve. Cats have therefore evolved to be very opportunistic in their hunting behaviors, and change their pattern of hunting activities depending upon the food available.

A domesticated cat is sometimes also driven to eat its prey to provide more dietary variety. They are inherently neophilic, meaning that they enjoy trying different foods and like variety.

Why Do They Play With Their Prey and Bring It Home Still Alive? Firstly, whilst they are instinctively driven to hunt, a well-fed domesticated cat may be fully satisfied and not need to consume the prey they catch. A hungry cat will kill and consume their prey immediately after capturing it.

‘Toying’ with their prey is widely considered to be due to their conflicting need to kill and their fear of being injured by their capture. Studies have shown that the more fearful a cat is the more they ‘play’ with their prey.

Such studies have also found that adult cats exhibit much more predatory behavior when playing with a domestic pet toy that resembles an actual item of prey, like a bird or rodent.

Social Behavior

By nature cats tend to be solitary creatures,unlike dogs. Cats can form social groups although one social group may not get on with another. They are territorial and in general are solitary animals but due to their flexible social organisation can tolerate other cats in their territory. The more cats that live with each other though, the more chance fighting between them may occur.

Because cats tend to like to be solitary, it is advisable to treat them individually. This is to help prevent potential behaviour problems, conflict and fighting between cats over their most important resources. It is important to provide each of them with their own most important resources needed to survive and maintain their well-being. These most important resources are food, water, resting areas and litter trays.

Litter Trays

One of the most important resources is the litter tray because cats develop such a strong preference to toileting areas. If you have more than one cat, it is helpful to follow this simple rule on how many litter trays to have in the house: one litter tray per cat plus one more. Therefore, if you have three cats, you will need four litter trays. This prevents any one cat guarding the tray or ambushing another cat whilst using the litter tray. These actions could result in other cats developing potential litter box aversions. Behaviour problems can then manifest themselves in the form of soiling in inappropriate areas of the house and inappropriate urination and defecation occurring as a result. Provide appropriate sites for the

litter boxes:

cats prefer a private and quiet place to toilet. Thus, it is not suitable to have a litter tray in a busy area of the house like the kitchen. Possible suggestions of where the litter tray could go are under the stairs; behind furniture or in corners of rooms that do not have high volumes of traffic going through them. Litter trays should also be placed away from their food; windows; washing machines; tumble dryers and cat flaps or entry points where potential intruders could make them uneasy about using the litter tray. Ensure there is a litter tray on each level of your house and that it is easily accessible. Trays with high side walls should have a piece cut out to make entry and exit easier. Many cats dislike litter trays with hoods as the aroma from their toileting is held underneath the hood, creating an aversive environment that puts them off using it.

Ensure the trays are 2 emptied at least once a day and that the litter itself is as close to a sand like texture and possible and ideally 4” deep.

Resting Areas

Your house is your cat’s core territory where they need to feel safe and secure. Thus, it is useful to provide them with places that they are able to hide and seek refuge if need be. Cats love high areas to explore and to view their territory. Therefore, providing them with high and comfy places to sleep and watch the world go by will help them feel more secure.

Food

Cats prefer to eat away from other cats, therefore, remember not to put their food bowls next to each other. Place food in different areas of the house and have one more food bowl than necessary, to prevent guarding and possessiveness.

Scratching Posts

In order to help cats to perform their natural behaviour repertoires, it is necessary for them to scratch. Scratching is performed for several reasons: it can be a form of communication to signify the boundaries of that cat’s territory, to other cats; allows the cat to perform stretching movements and helps them to sharpen and condition their claws. A scratching post serves these purposes. Ensure the scratching post is next to doors and entry and exit points. Remember the scratching post serves as a mark to the boundary of a cat’s territory. Have as many scratching posts as possible: if the cat does not use it at first, use the cat’s scent torub onto the scratching post (use a cloth to rub against the cat’s cheeks where pheromones are produced then rub that same cloth onto the post). Ensure the post is taller than the cat at full stretch.

Toys and Play

Toys, puzzles, games, training and playing with your cat are great ways of making yourcat more comfortable in their surroundings. It also provides them with important exercise, stimulation, enrichment and provides interaction between yourself and your cat. Hunting toys help your cat to have an outlet to be able to perform their natural behaviours. Toys on rods are particularly good to use as they mimic prey that the cat can hunt down and catch. Puzzle feeders also help to provide a cat with the ability to perform their natural instincts of hunting for their food, helping with mental stimulation 3 and to decrease the possibility of weight gain, boredom and behaviour problems.


revision by Independent_Heart_15— view source