Feline: Of or belonging to the family Felidæ, which includes the lions, tigers, jaguars, wild and domesticated cats. Resembling or suggestive of a cat, as in suppleness, slyness, or stealthiness.
Old English Words for Cat:
Possibly originated from the Latin Catus or Catta.
The male is known as a "Tom Cat" and the female is known as a "Bitch" or "Queen".
The male, or Tomcat in Scotland is called a Gib cat; the female is a Doe cat.
A group of Adult Cats is known as a Clowder and a group of Kittens is known as a Kindle.
Some people also call a group of cats a Clutter, whether this is correct or not I do not know, I cannot find any reference to this in any book or printed article. An Assembly or Group of Animals does not have Clutter for any animal. Clutter does not have any reference for Cat in any Thesaurus and the Underworld Slang book does not contain any reference for the word, so my guess is that it is just made up.
The Cat, stealthy, solitary, secretive and intelligent - said to possess nine lives - always prepared for the unexpected. In the words of a poet - "Cats no less liquid than their shadows offer no angles to wind, they slip diminished, neat, through loopholes less than themselves."
There are over 35 Breeds of Wild Cats and Over 300 Breeds of Domestic Cats.
No one knows exactly when or how the cat first appeared on Earth. Most investigators agree, however, that the cat's most ancient ancestor probably was a weasel like animal called Miacis, which lived about 40 million or 50 million years ago.
Miacis is believed by many to be the common ancestor of all land-dwelling carnivores, including dogs as well as cats. But apparently the cats existed for millions of years before the first dogs. Perhaps best-known of the prehistoric cats is Smilodon, the saber-toothed cat sometimes called a tiger. This formidable animal hunted throughout much of the world but became extinct long ago.
It is said that we probably owe today's felines to the ancient Egyptians, who over 3000 years ago domesticated them to keep down the rats and mice in their grain stores. Recently, during the excavation by the British Archaeological Institute in Ankara (Turkey) of a late Neolithic (7000 years ago) site near Hacilar, 22 small terracotta statues said to be women playing with cats were found on one level. Because of this discovery some scientists now question the long held belief that cats were first domesticated in Egypt.
Sacred to the Egyptian goddess Isis, the cat gradually came to be recognized as an incarnation of deity. It was the daughter of Isis and her husband the sun god Osiris, that the great cat goddess Bast emerged. Bast's name has been translated as "the Soul of Isis". It is even said that the word puss derives from Bast (pronounced Pasht).
Most authorities believe that the shorthaired breeds of domestic cat are derived from the Cafra cat (pictured on the right), Felis Lybica Cafra, a species of African wildcat domesticated by the ancient Egyptians perhaps as early as 2500 BC and transported by the Crusaders to Europe, where it interbred with the indigenous smaller wildcats. The longhaired breeds may have sprung from the Asian wildcat, Felis manul. Over the centuries, domestic cats have remained virtually the same size, weighing about 8lb (3.6kg) when fully grown.
But it was the Romans who introduced cats to Britain, and much prized they were. By the ninth century a mouser was valued at two pennies - a sum which, given over 1000 years of inflation, makes today's pedigree cats a bargain.
Of all the current breeds of cats, the two that have the strongest claim to being the original domestic cat are the Egyptian Mau and the Abyssinian. Both have the intermediate body structure and wedge-shaped head with well defined facial planes of the African Wildcat.
Egyptian tomb paintings and sculpture are the earliest representations of the domestic cat. Images of cats appear on Greek coins of the 5th century BC; cats were later depicted in Roman mosaics and paintings, and on earthenware, coins, and shields. The 8th-century Irish manuscript of the Gospels, the Book of Kells, has a representation of cats and kittens in one of its illuminations. Later artists, such as Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer, are among the many who included cats in their works.
Although the Old Testament makes no mention of cats, the Babylonian Talmud tells of their admirable qualities and encourages the breeding of cats to help keep the houses clean. Memorable literary cats include the British writer Rudyard Kipling's Cat That Walked by Himself (one of the Just So Stories, 1902), the delightful cats of Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (1939) by T. S. Eliot, and the Cheshire Cat, joint creation of the English writer Lewis Carroll and the illustrator Sir John Tenniel in the children's classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865). Many contemporary comic strips and animated cartoons also contain feline characters that delight ailurophiles (lovers of cats) of all ages.
Cats have figured in the history of many nations, they have been the subject of much superstition and legend, and are a favourite subject of artists and writers.
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