CATS Small, mainly carnivorous animal, Felis cats, member of the family Felid ae. It is a popular household pet and is useful for killing mice and rats. A cat's body is extremely flexible; its skeleton contains more than 230 bones and its pelvis and shoulders are loosely attached to its spine. The cat's powerful musculature helps its great leaping ability and speed. The cat's sharp, hooked, retractile claws are sheathed in a soft, leathery pocket at the end of each toe and are extended for fighting, hunting, and climbing. It uses its powerful jaw muscles and sharp teeth to bite and kill its prey.

The cat has excellent night vision; extensive peripheral vision; and binocular vision, which enables it to accurately judge distances. Its hearing is extremely sensitive, perceiving a wide range of sounds, including those in the ultrasonic range. The cat has a highly developed sense of smell and a specialized sense of taste. Its tongue is covered with rough protuberances that it uses to rasp meat from bones and groom itself. The cat's whiskers are extremely sensitive to the slightest touch and are used for testing obstacles and sensing changes in the environment.

Cats were worshipped in Egypt because they minimized the rodent population in Egypt's grain fields along the Nile river. Cats were so revered that they were mummified and buried either with their owners or in specially designated cemeteries. They were valued as predators in the mid-14th century when a rat-borne plague, known as the Black Death, struck the population of Europe. The first domestic cats in North America arrived with the colonists, who used them to keep the rodent population under control in fields, barns, and homes. In India cats played an important part in religious or occult ceremonies, and in South America the Inca revere sacred cats. Cats continue to be worshipped as deities in some countries such as Thailand and China.

Here are a few cat facts that I bet you didnt know: ~All domestic cats hate lemons, or any citrus scent of any kind. 'n ions are highly poisonous to cats. They induce a fatal form of anemia. ~The cat uses it's tail like a tight-rope walker uses a long pole - as a counterweight to aid balance. Even though the tail is useful for this, it is also used for communication purposes. Cats born without tails do manage, though. There are other methods of balancing.

~When cats are happy or pleased, they squeeze their eyes. Also, cats contain an IQ in the animal kingdom surpassed only by monkeys and chimps. ~Cat Purring: The mother's purr acts as a homing device, announcing to her babies that nursing time has arrived. Kittens begin to purr in return at about one week of age perhaps as a gesture of gratitude, or maybe as a request for milk and continue to purr for the rest of their lives. ~Did you know that cats can listen for prey by rotating their ears independently Or that their whiskers can detect movements 2,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair Or that house cats, unlike other domesticated animals, have changed very little over the past 4,000 years ~How a cat 'speaks' is quiet remarkable. They don't speak phrases to express affection, outrage, hunger, loneliness, boredom, confusion, happiness and fear in their natural frequency range, which would be inaudible to humans, but at a much lower frequency that humans can hear.

Some researchers believe they may have learned we can't hear them in their natural range and have adapted so they can relate to us on our terms. ~After cats eat, they always immediately bathe themselves. This is because their instinct tells them to get the food scent off of them so that predators will not smell the food and come after them. A cats visual acuity is very poor at close range. Anything closer than 6 inches to a cats eyes will be a blur. Page Domestic Cats.

Encarta 98 Desk Encyclopedia. 1996-97 Microsoft Corporation. Schlegel, Allison M.D., Katz Corner. 1998-1999.30 f.