Cats

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.

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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. Split-shaped pupils in smaller cats allow for greater control over the amount of light admitted. The muscles in the ears allow them to move outer ear like a satellite dish seeking a faint signal.

Whiskers, these sensitive, specialized hairs monitor the prey’s position and movement, result: A perfectly aimed blow. Most cats are crepuscular (active at twilight) or nocturnal and hunt by stealth, either lying in wait or silently stalking the prey until close enough to catch it with a short burst of great speed. The cheetah, the fastest four-legged animal in short spurts, runs down its prey in an overland chase. In Conclusion: Skeleton, muscles, senses, coat, helps cats in their environment and survive as a species. Science.

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