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By Muhammad Tegar Al Firdausy's Blog

Cats

Minggu, 25 Juli 2010




Cats, from mighty lions to your pet tabby, are all carnivorous (meat-eating) hunters, with remarkably similar habits. Watch a domestic cat stalking a mouse, or a tiger stealthily creeping up on an antelope, and their actions will be much the same. Cats are mammals and there are about 35 different wild species living in most parts of the world, except Antarctica, Australasia and Madagascar. The so-called big cats are the tiger, lion, jaguar, leopard and cheetah. Smaller wild cats include the bobcat, lynx, ocelot and puma—smallest of all is the black-footed cat of southern Africa, which is only about 33-50 centimetres long with a tail of about 15 centimetres.

A cat’s body is extremely flexible—the skeleton of a domestic cat contains more than 230 bones, more than a human skeleton. The animal has powerful muscles to help it leap and run, and its tail provides balance when jumping or falling. A cat’s sharp claws are well suited to catching and holding on to struggling prey. When not in use, the claws can be pulled back into sheaths at the end of each toe so they don’t get damaged or blunted as the cat walks around. The only cat that cannot retract its claws in this way is the cheetah. A cat has sharp teeth, for biting rather than chewing, and its strong jaw muscles mean that it can kill its prey with one bite.

Cats have excellent eyesight, even at night, and extremely sensitive ears. A cat can even move each ear independently to pick up different sounds. Its sense of smell is very important to a cat and both domestic and wild cats leave scent signals to mark their territory. A cat’s whiskers are very sensitive to touch and help a cat judge whether its body will fit in a space. In poor light, whiskers help a cat find its way around.

DOMESTIC CATS

Short-haired domestic cats are probably descended from an African wild cat that was first domesticated and kept as a pet by the Ancient Egyptians thousands of years ago. The ancestor of long-haired cats is thought to be an Asian wild cat. One reason for keeping cats was for their rodent-hunting skills, but they were also important in Egyptian culture—the goddess Bast, who was often shown in the form of a cat, represented love and fertility. As a result, Egyptians held cats in high regard and sometimes even mummified their bodies when they died.

Today, domestic cats are one of the most popular of all pets. Although they are more independent than dogs, cats still require love and attention from their owners as well as regular food and fresh water. Cats that cannot go outside need a litter tray, which should be cleaned regularly, and a scratching post for sharpening their claws. Cats groom themselves, but they should also be brushed weekly to remove loose or moulting hair.

BREEDS OF DOMESTIC CAT

There are more than 40 different breeds of domestic cat, with a variety of fur lengths, colours and patterns. These include longhaired cats such as Persians and Maine Coons, shorthairs such as British Shorthairs and Abyssinians and more exotic varieties such as Burmese and Siamese. There are also some relatively recent breeds such as the Sphynx, a nearly hairless cat.

Did you know?

Most cats can leap up to five times their own height-some, like Siamese cats, can jump even higher.

The Romans were the first people to bring cats to the UK, because they wanted to make sure that the cats ate any mice or rats who might raid their food stores.

Because a cat does not have a collarbone, it can fit through any opening the size of its head.

A cat's tongue is covered with little bumps called papillae. These give a rough surface which helps a cat clean its own fur or scrape flesh from the bones of its prey.


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