Sunday, February 19, 2012

Did You Know - Your Domestic Cat is Really A Felid!

Felidae, the biological ancestry of cats; each individual is called a felid and are the most 
methodical carnivores of the thirteen earthbound families in the order carnivora. The most  
well known felid is our very own domestic cat who first allied themselves with humans 
about 10,000 years ago. The subfamily that our house friendly pets belong to is the Felinae which includes the cougar, cheetah, lynx and ocelot. The very first felids appeared during 
the Oligocene 25 million years ago. Back in prehistory, a third subfamily existed, the 
Machairodontinae and included the saber tooth bunch like the Smilodons. 
Other catlike mammals consisted of the marsupial sabertooths Thylacosmilus and 
Nimravidae; they have not been added to the felidae in spite of their superficial affinity
 to cats we know today. 

With 41 known species of felids, they are all descendants of the same ancestor. Originating  in Asia, they soon extended their reach across the continents, crossing the land bridges of 
ancient times into every country in the world. These primordial cats developed into the  
eight main genealogies  that deviated throughout at least the last ten exoduses from 
continent to mainland by way of the Bering land bridge and the Isthmus of Panama; the  
Panthera genus was the oldest to come across while the Felis the youngest. Its been 
surmised that at the most, 60 percent of all the contemporary species of cats have 
flourished over the last million years.

Today the felids are still fast emerging dynasty of mammals that claim a common 
ancestor just 10–15 million years ago. Inside this pedigree our common domestic cats
(Felis catus) are part of the genus felis, a category of pint sized cats comprising of just
seven species. Representatives of this genus are to be found globally; among them are 
the Jungle Cat, the (Felis chauswho makes its home in southeast Asia.

Hunting Jungle Cat
Probably the most unusal characteristic of a jungle cat is its equal-sized claws on all four paws (quite unlike our domestic cats where their hind claws are  longer and stronger than the front claws). These allow the jungle cat to not only climb down trees as easily as it goes up, but to climb with its head facing towards the ground.

African Wildcat sleeping
African Wildcats  (Felis silvestris lybica). This kitty's diet consists primarily of mice, rats and small mammals. Given the opportunity it will also feed on birds, reptiles, amphibians and bugs. 

Chinese Mountain Cat, as desert cat

The Chinese Mountain Cat (Felis bieti), also known as a desert cat survives in western China.This is a highly elusive animal that can only be found today in Chinese Zoo's - there are only 6 in the world!
Arabian Sand Cat sitting in tree
Arabian Sand Cat (Felis margarita). Also known as the sand dune cat. Its found in African and Asian deserts, it lives quite nicely in arid areas too hot and too dry even for the Wildcat. The Sahara, Arabian desert and deserts of Iran and Pakistan are its native habitats.

Hope you enjoyed this.


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