Cat, Domestic, small, mainly carnivorous animal, Felis catus, member of the family Felidae, popular as a household pet, and valuable for killing mice and rats. Like other members of the cat family, the domestic cat has retractile claws; keen hearing and smell; remarkable night vision; and a compact, muscular, and highly supple body. Cats possess excellent memory and exhibit considerable aptitude for learning by observation and experience. The natural life span of a domestic cat is about 15 years.
IIORIGIN OF SPECIES Most authorities believe that the shorthaired breeds of domestic cat are derived from the Caffre cat, F. libyca, a species of African wildcat domesticated by the ancient Egyptians perhaps as early as 2500 BC and transported by the Crusaders to Europe, where it interbred with the indigenous smaller wildcats. The longhaired breeds may have sprung from the Asian wildcat, F. manul. Over the centuries, cats have remained virtually the same in size, weighing about ...