Domestic Cat - Conservators Center
30 April 2017

Not classified by the IUCN.

Domestic cats

Felis catus

Domestic cats, Felis catus, are the second most popular domestic pet in the world, second only to the domestic dog, Canis lupus familiaris. However, unlike dog breeds, cats tend to have a weight class that rarely goes over 15 to 20 lbs. The Cat Fanciers’ Association currently recognizes 42 breeds for show while The International Cat Association recognizes 71 breeds for show.

The domestic cat is believed to have evolved from the wild cats in the Middle East and Africa, including the African Wildcat, Felis silvestris lybica, anywhere from 70 to 100-thousand years ago. Other members of the genus Felis are found across the globe and include the jungle cat (Felis chaus), the European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris), the Chinese mountain cat (Felis bieti), and the Arabian sand cat (Felis margarita). The domestic cat is often also referred to as another subspecies of wildcat and can be called by the subspecies name Felis silvestris catus, which can sometimes lead to confusion in the lay community.

Also unlike dogs, cats have not undergone any major changed throughout the domestication process. Their physical and behavioral characteristics are not radically different than their wild cousins. However, as a result of selective breeding, breeds such as the Persian require human care and attention to remain healthy due to the nature of their nasal and facial structure.

In comparison to dogs, cats tend to not have mutualistic relationships with humans; they typically have commensal relationships with humans, although they can have mutualistic relationships. Cats are also typically more active in the evenings and at night, though they are not truly nocturnal by nature.

Meet the Conservators Center's Domestic Cats