Cats: Domestic Cat

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The cat (or domestic cat, house cat) is a small domesticated carnivorous mammal. It is valued by humans for its companionship and its ability to destroy vermin. A skilled predator, the cat is known to hunt over 1,000 species for food. Intelligent, the cat can be trained to obey simple commands, and has been known to teach itself to manipulate simple mechanisms (see cat intelligence).

The trinomial name of the domestic cat is Felis silvestris catus. Its closest pre-domesticated ancestor is believed to be the African wild cat, Felis silvestris lybica.[1] Humans have developed several dozen breeds of cat, in a variety of colours.

Cats have lived in close association with humans for at least 9,500 years,[2]. Legends and myths about the cat
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Sixty-two individual muscles in the ear allow for a manner of directional hearing:[15] the cat can move each ear independently of the other. Because of this mobility, a cat can move its body in one direction and point its ears in another direction. Most cats have straight ears pointing upward. Unlike dogs, flap-eared breeds are extremely rare. (Scottish Folds are one such exceptional genetic mutation.) When angry or frightened, a cat will lay its ears back, to accompany the growling or hissing sounds it makes. Cats will also turn their ears back when they are playing, or occasionally to show interest in a sound coming from behind them.

Cats commonly sleep curled into a tight ball.
Cats commonly sleep curled into a tight ball.

Cats conserve energy by sleeping more than most animals, especially as they grow older. Daily durations of sleep vary, usually 12–16 hours, with 13–14 being the average. Some cats can sleep as much as 20 hours in a 24-hour period. The term cat nap refers to the cat's ability to fall asleep (lightly) for a brief period and has entered the English lexicon – someone who nods off for a few minutes is said to be "taking a cat nap".

Due to their crepuscular nature, cats are often known to enter a period of increased hyperactivity and playfulness during the evening and early morning, dubbed the "evening crazies", "night crazies" or "mad half-hour" by some.[16][17]

The temperament of a
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