The genus includes the domestic cat. The smallest Felis species is the black-footed cat with a head and body length from 38 to 42 cm (15 to 17 in). The largest is the jungle cat with a head and body length from 62 to 76 cm (24 to 30 in). Felis species inhabit a wide range of different habitats, from swampland to desert, and generally hunt small rodents, birds and other small animals, depending on their local environment. The worldwide introduction of the domestic cat also made it common to urban landscapes around the globe.
Genetic studies indicate that Felis, Otocolobus and Prionailurus diverged from a Eurasian progenitor about 6.2 million years ago, and that Felis species split off 3.04 to 0.99 million years ago.
|Wildcat, Felis silvestris|
|Native Felis range|
Linnaeus considered Felis to comprise all cat species. Later taxonomists split the cat family into different genera. In 1917, the British zoologist Reginald Innes Pocock revised the genus Felis as comprising only:
|Jungle cat F. chaus (Güldenstädt, 1776)||Egypt, Middle East, Indian subcontinent, Central and Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka and southern China.|
|Black-footed cat F. nigripes Burchell, 1824||South Africa, Namibia, marginally into Zimbabwe|
|European wildcat F. silvestris Schreber, 1777||Europe|
|Sand cat F. margarita Loche, 1858||northern Africa and southwest and central Asia|
|Chinese mountain cat F. bieti Milne-Edwards, 1892||Tibetan Plateau|
|African wildcat F. lybica Forster, 1780||Africa, Central Asia into India, western China and Mongolia|
|Domestic cat F. catus Linnaeus, 1758||Worldwide (domesticated)|
Several scientists consider the Chinese mountain cat a subspecies of F. silvestris.
A black cat from Transcaucasia described in 1904 as F. daemon by Satunin turned out to be a feral cat, probably a hybrid of wildcat and domestic cat. The Kellas cat is a hybrid between domestic cat and European wildcat occurring in Scotland.
Fossil Felis species include:
|The Felis lineage|
The African wildcat (Felis lybica) is a wildcat species native to Africa, West and Central Asia up to Rajasthan in India and Xinjiang in China. The IUCN Red List status Least Concern is attributed to the species Felis silvestris, which at the time of assessment also included the African wildcat as a subspecies.Results of genetic research indicate that the African wildcat diverged into three clades about 173,000 years ago, namely the Near Eastern wildcat, Southern African wildcat and Asiatic wildcat. African wildcats were first domesticated about 10,000 years ago in the Near East, and are the ancestors of the domestic cat (F. catus). In Cyprus, an African wildcat was found in a burial site next to a human skeleton in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B settlement Shillourokambos. The graves are estimated to have been established by Neolithic farmers about 9,500 years ago and are the earliest known evidence for a close association between a human and a cat. Their proximity indicates that the cat may have been tamed or domesticated.Crossings between domestic cats and African wildcats are still common today.Black-footed cat
The black-footed cat (Felis nigripes), also called small-spotted cat, is the smallest African cat and endemic to the southwestern arid zone of Southern Africa. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 2002, as the population is suspected to be declining due to bushmeat poaching of prey species, persecution, traffic accidents and predation by domestic animals.Canada lynx
The Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) is a lynx species native to North America. It ranges across Canada and Alaska extending into the Rocky Mountains and New Mexico. It has been listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List since 2002.With a dense silvery-brown coat, ruffed face and tufted ears, the Canada lynx resembles the other species of the mid-sized feline genus Lynx. It is slightly larger than the bobcat, with which it shares parts of its range, and over twice the size of the domestic cat.Cat
The cat (Felis catus) is a small carnivorous mammal. It is the only domesticated species in the family Felidae and often referred to as the domestic cat to distinguish it from wild members of the family. The cat is either a house cat, kept as a pet, or a feral cat, freely ranging and avoiding human contact.
A house cat is valued by humans for companionship and for its ability to hunt rodents. About 60 cat breeds are recognized by various cat registries.Cats are similar in anatomy to the other felid species, with a strong flexible body, quick reflexes, sharp teeth and retractable claws adapted to killing small prey. They are predators who are most active at dawn and dusk (crepuscular). Cats can hear sounds too faint or too high in frequency for human ears, such as those made by mice and other small animals. Compared to humans, they see better in the dark (they see in near total darkness) and have a better sense of smell, but poorer color vision. Cats, despite being solitary hunters, are a social species. Cat communication includes the use of vocalizations including mewing, purring, trilling, hissing, growling and grunting as well as cat-specific body language. Cats also communicate by secreting and perceiving pheromones.
Female domestic cats can have kittens from spring to late autumn, with litter sizes ranging from two to five kittens.
Domestic cats can be bred and shown as registered pedigreed cats, a hobby known as cat fancy. Failure to control the breeding of pet cats by spaying and neutering, as well as abandonment of pets, has resulted in large numbers of feral cats worldwide, contributing to the extinction of entire bird species, and evoking population control.It was long thought that cat domestication was initiated in Egypt, because cats in ancient Egypt were venerated since around 3100 BC.
However, the earliest indication for the taming of an African wildcat (F. lybica) was found in Cyprus, where a cat skeleton was excavated close by a human Neolithic grave dating to around 7500 BC. African wildcats were probably first domesticated in the Near East. The leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) was tamed independently in China around 5500 BC, though this line of partially domesticated cats leaves no trace in the domestic cat populations of today.As of 2017, the domestic cat was the second-most popular pet in the U.S. by number of pets owned, after freshwater fish, with 95 million cats owned. As of 2017, it was ranked the third-most popular pet in the UK, after fish and dogs, with around 8 million being owned. The number of cats in the UK has nearly doubled since 1965, when the cat population was 4.1 million.Chartreux
The Chartreux is a rare breed of domestic cat from France and is recognised by a number of registries around the world. The Chartreux is large and muscular (called cobby) with relatively short, fine-boned limbs, and very fast reflexes. They are known for their blue (grey) water-resistant short hair double coats which are often slightly nappy in texture (often showing "breaks" like a sheepskin) and orange- or copper-colored eyes. Chartreux cats are also known for their "smile": due to the structure of their heads and their tapered muzzles, they often appear to be smiling. Chartreux are exceptional hunters and are highly prized by farmers.
As for every French cat with a pedigree, the first letter of the official name of a Chartreux cat encodes the year of its birth. All Chartreux born in the same year have official names beginning with the same letter. The code letters rotate through the alphabet each year, omitting the letters K, Q, W, X, Y, and Z. For example, a Chartreux born in 2011 would have an official name starting with the letter G.Chinese mountain cat
The Chinese mountain cat (Felis bieti), also known as Chinese desert cat and Chinese steppe cat, is a wild cat endemic to western China that has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 2002, as the effective population size may be fewer than 10,000 mature breeding individuals.It was provionally classified as a wildcat subspecies with the name F. silvestris bieti in 2007.
It is recognised as a valid species since 2017, as it is morphologically distinct from wildcats.European wildcat
The European wildcat (Felis silvestris) is a wildcat species native to continental Europe, Scotland, Turkey and the Caucasus. It inhabits forests from the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Central and Eastern Europe to the Caucasus. It has been extirpated in England and Wales.In France and Italy, the European wildcat is predominantly nocturnal, but also active in the daytime when undisturbed by human activities.Felidae
Felidae is a family of mammals in the order Carnivora, colloquially referred to as cats. A member of this family is also called a felid. The term "cat" refers both to felids in general and specifically to the domestic cat (Felis catus).Reginald Innes Pocock divided the extant Felidae into three subfamilies: the Pantherinae, the Felinae and the Acinonychinae, differing from each other by the ossification of the hyoid apparatus and by the cutaneous sheaths which protect their claws.
This concept has been revised following developments in molecular biology and techniques for analysis of morphological data. Today, the living Felidae are divided in two subfamilies, with the Pantherinae including seven Panthera and two Neofelis species. The Felinae include all the non-pantherine cats with 10 genera and 34 species.The first cats emerged during the Oligocene, about 25 million years ago, with the appearance of Proailurus and Pseudaelurus. The latter species complex was ancestral to two main lines of felids: the cats in the extant subfamilies and a third major group of extinct cats of the subfamily Machairodontinae. The machairodonts included the saber-toothed cats such as the Smilodon. The "false sabre toothed cats", the Barbourofelidae and Nimravidae, are not true cats, but are closely related and together with Felidae and other cat-like carnivores (hyaenas, viverrids and mongooses) make up the feliform carnivores.The characteristic features of cats have evolved to support a carnivorous lifestyle, with adaptations for ambush or stalking and short pursuit hunting. They have slender muscular bodies, strong flexible forelimbs and retractable claws for holding prey, dental and cranial adaptations for a strong bite, and often have characteristic striped or spotted coat patterns for camouflage.Feral cat
A feral cat is a freely ranging wild-living domestic cat (Felis catus) that avoids human contact: it does not allow itself to be handled or touched, and usually remains hidden from humans. Some feral cats may become more comfortable with people who regularly feed them, but even with long-term attempts at socialization they usually remain fearful.
Attempts to control feral cat populations are widespread. Some advocate trap-neuter-return programs to prevent the cats from continuing to breed, as well as feeding the cats, socializing and adopting out young kittens, and providing healthcare. Others advocate euthanasia. Feral cats often live outdoors in colonies: these are called managed colonies when they are provided with regular food and care by humans.Flat-headed cat
The flat-headed cat (Prionailurus planiceps) is a small wild cat native to the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Borneo, and Sumatra. It is an Endangered species, because the wild population probably comprises fewer than 2,500 mature individuals, with small subpopulations of no more than 250 adults. The population inhabits foremost wetlands, which are being destroyed and converted. For these reasons, it is listed on the IUCN Red List since 2008.It was initially placed in the genus Felis, but is now considered one of the five species in Prionailurus.Flat-headed cats are very rare in captivity, with fewer than 10 individuals, all kept in Malaysian and Thai zoos as recorded by Species360.Jaguarundi
The jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi) ( ZHAG-wə-RUN-dee) or eyra is a small wild cat native to southern North America and South America. It has been listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List since 2002. The megareserves of the Amazon Basin are probably the only conservation units that can sustain long-term viable populations.In some Spanish-speaking countries, the jaguarundi is also called gato colorado, gato moro, león brenero, tigrillo, and leoncillo. The Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation of its common English and Portuguese name is [ʒɐɡwɐɾũˈdʒi]. It is also called gato-mourisco, eirá, gato-preto, and maracajá-preto in Portuguese. Jaguarundi comes from Old Tupi yawaum'di.Jungle cat
The jungle cat (Felis chaus), also called reed cat and swamp cat, is a medium-sized cat native to the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia and southern China. It inhabits foremost wetlands like swamps, littoral and riparian areas with dense vegetation. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, and is mainly threatened by destruction of wetlands, trapping and poisoning.The jungle cat has a uniformly sandy, reddish-brown or grey fur without spots; melanistic and albino individuals are also known. It is solitary in nature, except during the mating season and mother-kitten families. Adults maintain territories by urine spraying and scent marking. Its preferred prey is small mammals and birds. It hunts by stalking its prey, followed by a sprint or a leap; the ears help in pinpointing the location of prey. Both sexes become sexually mature by the time they are one year old; females enter oestrus from January to March. Mating behaviour is similar to that in the domestic cat: the male pursues the female in oestrus, seizes her by the nape of her neck and mounts her. Gestation lasts nearly two months. Births take place between December and June, though this might vary geographically. Kittens begin to catch their own prey at around six months and leave the mother after eight or nine months.
The species was first described by Johann Anton Güldenstädt in 1776 based on a specimen caught in a Caucasian wetland. Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber gave the jungle cat its present binomial name and is therefore generally considered as binomial authority. Three subspecies are recognised at present.Pallas's cat
The Pallas's cat (Otocolobus manul), also called manul, is a small wild cat with a broad but fragmented distribution in the grasslands and montane steppes of Central Asia. It is negatively affected by habitat degradation, prey base decline and hunting, and has therefore been classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List since 2002.The Pallas's cat was first described in 1776 by the German naturalist Peter Simon Pallas.Rickettsia felis
Rickettsia felis is a species of bacterium, the pathogen that causes cat-flea typhus in humans. In cats the disease is known as flea-borne spotted fever. Rickettsia felis also is regarded as the causative organism of many cases of illnesses generally classed as fevers of unknown origin in humans in Africa.Rusty-spotted cat
The rusty-spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) is one of the cat family's smallest members, of which historical records are known only from India and Sri Lanka. In 2012, it was also recorded in the western Terai of Nepal. Since 2016, the global wild population is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List as it is fragmented and affected by loss and destruction of prime habitat, deciduous forests.Sand cat
The sand cat (Felis margarita), also known as the sand dune cat, is the only cat living chiefly in true deserts. This small cat is widely distributed in the deserts of North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. Starting in 2002, it was listed as near threatened on the IUCN Red List because the population was considered fragmented and small with a declining trend. It was downlisted to least concern in 2016.Owing to long hairs covering the soles of its feet, the sand cat is well adapted to the extremes of a desert environment and tolerant of extremely hot and cold temperatures. It inhabits both sandy and stony deserts, in areas far from water sources.Siamese cat
The Siamese cat is one of the first distinctly recognized breeds of Asian cat. Derived from the Wichianmat landrace, one of several varieties of cat native to Thailand (formerly known as Siam), the Siamese became one of the most popular breeds in Europe and North America in the 19th century. The carefully refined modern Siamese is characterized by blue almond-shaped eyes; a triangular head shape; large ears; an elongated, slender, and muscular body; and point colouration. (Aside from the colouration, it bears little resemblance to the original stock, and the more moderate, traditional or "old-style" Siamese, with a much rounder head and body, has been re-established by multiple registries as the Thai cat.) The International Cat Association describes the modern Siamese as affectionate, social, intelligent, and playful into adulthood, often enjoying a game of fetch. Siamese tend to seek human interaction and also like companionship from other cats.
The Siamese (sometimes in the traditional form) is among the foundation stock of several other breeds developed by crossbreeding with other cats; some examples are the Oriental Shorthair and Colourpoint Shorthair, developed to expand the range of coat patterns; the long-haired variant most often dubbed the Himalayan; and hair-mutation breeds including the Cornish Rex, Sphynx, Peterbald, and the blue point Siamese cat. The Siamese cat comes in two distinct variations: traditional, with an apple-shaped head and a slightly chubby body; or the modern Siamese, which are very skinny and have a wedge-shaped head.Tabby cat
A tabby is any domestic cat (Felis catus) that has a coat featuring distinctive stripes, dots, lines or swirling patterns, always together with a mark resembling an 'M' on its forehead. Tabbies are sometimes erroneously assumed to be a cat breed. In fact, the tabby pattern is found in many breeds, and is a genetic landrace common among the general mixed-breed population. The tabby pattern is a naturally occurring feature that may be related to the coloration of the domestic cat's direct ancestor, the African wildcat (Felis lybica lybica), which—along with the European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris) and Asiatic wildcat (Felis lybica ornata)—has a similar coloration. A genetic study found five genetic clusters from tabbies to be ancestral to wildcats of various parts of the world.Wildcat
The wildcat is a species complex comprising two small wild cat species, the European wildcat (Felis silvestris) and the African wildcat (F. lybica). The European wildcat inhabits forests in Europe and the Caucasus, while the African wildcat inhabits semi-arid landscapes and steppes in Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Central Asia, into western India and western China.
The wildcat species differ in fur pattern, tail, and size: the European wildcat has long fur and a bushy tail with a rounded tip; the smaller African wildcat is more faintly striped, has short sandy-gray fur and a tapering tail; the Asiatic wildcat (F. lybica ornata) is spotted.The wildcat and the other members of the cat family had a common ancestor about 10–15 million years ago. The European wildcat evolved during the Cromerian Stage about 866,000 to 478,000 years ago; its direct ancestor was Felis lunensis. The silvestris and lybica lineages probably diverged about 173,000 years ago.The wildcat has been categorized as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List since 2002, since it is widely distributed, and the global population is considered stable and exceeding 20,000 mature individuals. However, in some range countries both wildcat species are considered threatened by introgressive hybridisation with the domestic cat (F. catus) and transmission of diseases. Localized threats include being hit by vehicles, and persecution.The association of African wildcats and humans appears to have developed along with the establishment of settlements during the Neolithic Revolution, when rodents in grain stores of early farmers attracted wildcats. This association ultimately led to it being tamed and domesticated: the domestic cat is the direct descendant of the African wildcat. It was one of the revered cats in ancient Egypt. The European wildcat has been the subject of mythology and literature.
Extant Carnivora species