The domestic cat has acquired many adaptations throughout history.  In the family Felidae, cats have evolved to live solitarily (without presence of a group) with the exception of the lion and cheetah.  This family has also evolved into agile and efficient hunters. (If you would like to see a cat's stalking skills YouTube 'stealth cat.') They are "crepuscular", hunting during dawn and dusk, when their prey is more active.  This makes cats sleep during the daytime and at night, about 16 hours of the 24 hours. In fact cats sleep about 2/3 of their lifetimes!
My RA Rachel Campbell's cat FuzzBall sleeping (she took this picture)Cats' eyes have very well adapted photoreceptors for seeing in the dark and to help spot and catch their prey. Their ears have also been adapted for hearing better.. The tail on cats is usually long and flexible, aiding in balance. Domestic cats  have a compact, flexible body-making it easier to move. Also, cats have retractable claws, with the cheetah as an exception- for domestic cats, this helps them be a better pet. In order to help them move swiftly, cats walk on the tips of their toes, as opposed to on the balls of their feet like dogs. Also, compared to other mammals the cat's small intestine is much smaller. This allows for a quicker metabolism and more energy intake. This Clip Art shows the increased size of the eyes and earsThe ability to purr is also an adaptation for cats, this is greatly showcased in domestic cats. In large cats, the bones by the throat are partially cartilage, therefore the throat is more flexible and able to support a roar. In small cats, the throat bones are rigid so roaring is not possible.




To learn about the habitat and geography of the domestic cat, click here.