All about cats

What are cats descended from

They are descended from a primitive cat-like creature which lived in the forests of Eastern Europe around 30 million years ago.

(Picture: iStockphoto)

What are they called?

They are called Felis Silvestris, which means ‘wild cat’.

When were they first domesticated?

We don’t know for sure, but it is likely that the first cats were domesticated around 3000 BC.

What are their main characteristics?

They are small in size, averaging around 15cm (6in) tall and weighing around 3-5kg (6-11lb). They have a very short, fine coat of fur which is not easy to see, so they are often mistaken for a cat toy.

They have a long, thin, flexible body, and their front paws have five toes. They have a thick tail and very large, wide-set eyes.

What do they eat?

They eat small mammals, birds and reptiles, particularly those which are small and slow-moving, such as mice and rats. They are also known to eat eggs and fruit.

They are one of the few members of the cat family which are not carnivorous.

What is their natural habitat?

They are found across Europe, and in Asia and Northern Africa.

How many are there in the UK?

There are believed to be around 100 000 in the UK, although the actual number of cats is unknown.

How many were there in the UK in the 1920s?

According to a survey in the 1920s, there were around 2.5 million cats in the UK.

Why are they so common?

They are very common in rural and suburban Britain because they are good at hunting. They can sense prey at a distance, and can also see well in the dark.

They are good at surviving in Britain’s harsh winters, and they can hunt at night when other animals are sleeping.

Are they unusual?

Some other animals have a natural hunting instinct, such as ferrets and weasels, but it seems that cats are the only domesticated animal which has this instinct.

Are they dangerous?

They can be very dangerous, especially if you try to pet them. They are very fast and are very good at hunting their prey, so if you try to pet them, you may be in danger.

Are there any diseases?

There are a lot of different diseases, including cat scratch disease, feline herpes and toxoplasmosis.

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