The cat (Felis silvestris catus), also known as the domestic cat or house cat to distinguish it from other felines, is a small carnivorous species of nocturnal mammal that is often valued by humans for its companionship and its ability to hunt vermin. It has been associated with humans for at least 9,500 years.
A skilled predator, the cat is known to hunt over 1,000 species for food. It is intelligent and can be trained to obey simple commands. Individual cats have also been known to learn to manipulate simple mechanisms. Cats use a variety of vocalizations and types of body language for communication, including mewing ("meow" or "miaow"), purring, hissing, growling, squeaking, chirping, clicking, and grunting. Cats are popular pets and are also bred and shown as registered pedigree pets. This hobby is known as the cat fancy.
A study by the National Cancer Institute published in the journal Science asserts that all house cats are descended from a group of self-domesticating desert wildcats Felis silvestris lybica circa 10,000 years ago, in the Near East. All wildcat subspecies can interbreed, but domestic cats are all genetically contained within F. s. lybica
Owning cats linked to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder - June 9, 2015
Owning a cat as a kid could put you at risk for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder later on because of parasites found in feline feces, new research says. Previous studies have linked the parasite toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) to the development of mental disorders, and two more research papers published recently provide further evidence. Researchers from the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam looked at more than 50 studies and found that a person infected with the parasite is nearly twice as likely to develop schizophrenia.
Ancient Egyptian Kittens Hint at Cat Domestication Live Science - March 17, 2014
The skeletons of six cats, including four kittens, found in an Egyptian cemetery may push back the date of cat domestication in Egypt by nearly 2,000 years. The bones come from a cemetery for the wealthy in Hierakonpolis, which served as the capital of Upper Egypt in the era before the pharaohs. The cemetery was the resting place not just for human bones, but also for animals, which perhaps were buried as part of religious rituals or sacrifices. Archaeologists searching the burial grounds have found everything from baboons to leopards to hippopotamuses. The new find includes two adult cats and four kittens from at least two litters. The size of the bones and timing of the litters hints that humans may have kept the cats. The bones date back to between 3600 B.C. and 3800 B.C., which would be 2,000 years before the earliest known evidence of cat domestication in Egypt.
Is your cat left or right pawed? New Scientist - July 24, 2009
It may not be obvious from the scratch marks cats dish out, but domestic felines favour one paw over the other. More often than not, females tend to be righties, while toms are lefties, say Deborah Wells and Sarah Millsopp, psychologists at Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland. However, these preferences only manifest when cats perform particularly dexterous feats. That's for the same reason we can open a door with either arm, yet struggle to write legibly with our non-dominant hand. "The more complex and challenging the task, the more likely we're going to see true handedness," Wells says.
She and Millsopp tasked 42 domestic cats to ferret out a bit of tuna in a jar too small for their heads. Among 21 females, all but one favored the right paw across dozens of trials, while 20 out of 21 males preferentially used the left. One male proved ambidextrous. Not so for two simpler activities: pawing at a toy mouse suspended in the air or dragged on ground from a string. No matter their sex, all of the cats wielded their right and left paws about equally on these less demanding tasks. Hormone levels could explain sex differences in paw choice, Wells says. Previous research has linked prenatal testosterone exposure to left-handedness. While studies of two other domestic animals, dogs and horses, revealed similar sex biases.
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