Cats (also known as house cats or domestic cats) are one of the most popular pets in the world. These domesticated, furry, nocturnal hunters are valued for the companionship they bring as well as for their ability to hunt rodents. Like wild cats, domestic cats are natural predators. They are agile, have quick reflexes, and possess a long tail that gives them outstanding balance. They have very sharp sight: at night, they can up to 6 times better than humans! The combination of these physical traits allows cats to hunt well at night. Cats' targets are small animals, particularly rodents. All cats, regardless of breed, descend from the same species: Felis Catus.
An indoor household cat has a lifespan of 16 years. An outdoor cat lives much shorter; life expectancy is just 3 to 5 years. Relative to dogs, cats are small. The average adult size of a domestic cat is only 28 inches; depending on breed, weight is anywhere between 5 and 20 pounds. Cats love to play and move around, but they also love to sleep. On the average, a cat sleeps for 16 hours a day! They breed rapidly, which is why in some countries, neutering cats is mandatory. A female cat will be pregnant for 62-65 days and deliver an average number of 2 to 6 kittens.
Cats communicate in a variety of ways. They may use body language such as arching of back or rubbing their nose with their paw. When they want to inform others of their territorial range, they scratch or mark a tree or fence post with their waste. Their vocal repertoire is also varied; cats can hiss, purr, screech, meow, and growl.
History: Contrary to traditional beliefs, cat domestication didn't start in Egypt. Instead, it happened in the Greek Island of Cyprus around 9500 years ago. The earliest evidence of cat-feline association was discovered in 2004 in Cyprus: a kitten was found buried alongside a human. Because of this discovery, scientists now believe that domestic cats descended from a self-domesticating Fertile Crescent wild cat.
Cats are more popularly associated with ancient Egyptians, and for good reasons. In ancient Egypt (3900 BC), cats were considered sacred animals. They were featured in Egyptian paintings and other art forms. The goddess Bast was often depicted in cat form. Like humans, cats were mummified.
How domestic cats spread to the rest of Europe is still a mystery. Some scientists believe they were already kept in European homes long before the Roman Age, while some believed they were introduced by the Romans. What's clear is that domestic cats spread to the rest of the world during the Elizabethan Age of Discovery; cats were carried onboard sailing ships to kill rodents as well as good luck charms.
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