This little kitten was found on the street - together with his brother an sister - eyes still closed.
We took care of them an raised the kittens by hand. Every 2 hours they needed food and a cleaning session. Almost 4 weeks hardly sleep or very interrupted nights. But it was absolutely worth it.
In this picture the little one is about 3 weeks old. Weighing the kittens is important - even if it is not the most fun for the kitten. But they took it like lions :) Meanwhile they are all grown up, healthy and strong.
The domestic cat (Felis catus or Felis silvestris catus) is a small, usually furry, domesticated, and carnivorous mammal. It is often called the housecat when kept as an indoor pet, or simply the cat when there is no need to distinguish it from other felids and felines. Cats are often valued by humans for companionship and their ability to hunt vermin and household pests.
Cats are similar in anatomy to the other felids, with strong, flexible bodies, quick reflexes, sharp retractable claws, and teeth adapted to killing small prey. Cat senses fit a crepuscular and predatory ecological niche. Cats can hear sounds too faint or too high in frequency for human ears, such as those made by mice and other small animals. They can see in near darkness. Like most other mammals, cats have poorer color vision and a better sense of smell than humans.
Despite being solitary hunters, cats are a social species, and cat communication includes the use of a variety of vocalizations (meowing, purring,trilling, hissing, growling and grunting) as well as cat pheromones and types of cat-specific body language.
Cats have a rapid breeding rate. Under controlled breeding, they can be bred and shown as registered pedigree pets, a hobby known as cat fancy. Failure to control the breeding of pet cats by neutering, and the abandonment of former household pets, has resulted in large numbers of feral catsworldwide, requiring population control.
Since cats were cult animals in ancient Egypt, they were commonly believed to have been domesticated there, but there may have been instances of domestication as early as the Neolithic from around 9500 years ago (7500 BC).
A genetic study in 2007 concluded that domestic cats are descended from African wildcats (Felis silvestris lybica) c. 8000 BC, in the Near East. According to Scientific American, cats are the most popular pet in the world, and are now found almost every place where people live.
The felids are a rapidly evolving family of mammals that share a common ancestor only 10–15 million years ago, and include, in addition to the domestic cat, lions, tigers, cougars, and many others. Within this family, domestic cats (Felis catus) are part of the genus Felis, which is a group of small cats containing approximately seven species (depending upon classification scheme). Members of the genus are found worldwide and include the jungle cat (Felis chaus) of southeast Asia, European wildcat (F. silvestris silvestris), African wildcat (F. s. lybica), the Chinese mountain cat(F. bieti), and the Arabian sand cat (F. margarita), among others.
All the cats in this genus share a common ancestor that probably lived around 6–7 million years ago in Asia. The exact relationships within the Felidae are close but still uncertain, e.g. the Chinese mountain cat is sometimes classified (under the name Felis silvestris bieti) as a subspeciesof the wildcat, like the North African variety F. s. lybica. As domestic cats are little altered from wildcats, they can readily interbreed. Thishybridization poses a danger to the genetic distinctiveness of wildcat populations, particularly in Scotland and Hungary, and possibly also the Iberian Peninsula.
The domestic cat was first classified as Felis catus by Carolus Linnaeus in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae in 1758. However, because of modern phylogenetics, domestic cats are now usually regarded as another subspecies of the wildcat, Felis silvestris. This has resulted in mixed usage of the terms, as the domestic cat can be called by its subspecies name, Felis silvestris catus. Wildcats have also been referred to as various subspecies of F. catus, but in 2003 the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature fixed the name for wildcats as F. silvestris. The most common name in use for the domestic cat remains F. catus, following aconvention for domesticated animals of using the earliest (the senior) synonym proposed. Sometimes the domestic cat has been called Felis domesticus or Felis domestica, as proposed by German naturalist J. C. P. Erxleben in 1777, but these are not valid taxonomic names and have been used only rarely in scientific literature, because Linnaeus's binomial takes precedence.
Cats have either a mutualistic or commensal relationship with humans. However, in comparison to dogs, cats have not undergone major changes during the domestication process, as the form and behavior of the domestic cat are not radically different from those of wildcats, and domestic cats are perfectly capable of surviving in the wild. This limited evolution during domestication means that domestic cats tend to interbreed freely with wild relatives, distinguishing them from other domesticated animals. Fully domesticated house cats also often interbreed with feral F. catus populations. However, several natural behaviors and characteristics of wildcats may have pre-adapted them for domestication as pets. These traits include their small size, social nature, obvious body language, love of play, and relatively high intelligence; they may also have an inborn tendency towards tameness.
There are two main theories about how cats were domesticated. In one, people deliberately tamed cats in a process of artificial selection, as they were useful predators of vermin. However, this has been criticized as implausible, because there may have been little reward for such an effort: cats generally do not carry out commands and, although they do eat rodents, other species such as ferrets or terriers may be better at controlling these pests. The alternative idea is that cats were simply tolerated by people and gradually diverged from their wild relatives through natural selection, as they adapted to hunting the vermin found around humans in towns and villages.
There is a population of Transcaucasian Black feral cats once classified as Felis daemon (Satunin, 1904), but now this population is considered to be a part of domestic cat.
Cats have excellent night vision and can see at only one sixth the light level required for human vision. This is partly the result of cat eyes having atapetum lucidum, which reflects any light that passes through the retina back into the eye, thereby increasing the eye's sensitivity to dim light.Another adaptation to dim light is the large pupils of cats' eyes. Unlike some big cats, such as tigers, domestic cats have slit pupils. These slit pupils can focus bright light without chromatic aberration, and are needed since the domestic cat's pupils are much larger, relative to their eyes, than the pupils of the big cats. Indeed, at low light levels a cat's pupils will expand to cover most of the exposed surface of its eyes. However, domestic cats have rather poor color vision and (like most non-primate mammals) have only two types of cones, optimized for sensitivity to blue and yellowish green; they have limited ability to distinguish between red and green. A 1993 paper found a response to mid-wavelengths from a system other than the rods which might be due to a third type of cone. However, this appears to be an adaptation to low light levels rather than representing truetrichromatic vision.
Cats have excellent hearing and can detect an extremely broad range of frequencies. They can hear higher-pitched sounds than either dogs or humans, detecting frequencies from 55 Hz up to 79 kHz, a range of 10.5 octaves; while humans can only hear from 31 Hz up to 18 kHz, and dogs hear from 67 Hz to 44 kHz, which are both ranges of about 9 octaves. Cats do not use this ability to hear ultrasound for communication but it is probably important in hunting, since many species of rodents make ultrasonic calls. Cat hearing is also extremely sensitive and is among the best of any mammal, being most acute in the range of 500 Hz to 32 kHz. This sensitivity is further enhanced by the cat's large movable outer ears (their pinnae), which both amplify sounds and help a cat sense the direction from which a noise is coming.
Cats have an acute sense of smell, which is due in part to their well-developed olfactory bulb and also to a large surface of olfactory mucosa, about 5.8 square centimetres (0.90 sq in) in area, which is about twice that of humans and only 1.7-fold less than the average dog. Cats are very sensitive topheromones such as 3-mercapto-3-methylbutan-1-ol, which they use to communicate through urine spraying and marking with scent glands. Cats also respond strongly to plants that contain nepetalactone, especially catnip, as they can detect that substance at less than one part per billion. This response is also produced by other plants, such as silver vine (Actinidia polygama) and the herb valerian; it may be caused by the smell of these plants mimicking a pheromone and stimulating cats' social or sexual behaviors.
Cats have relatively few taste buds compared to humans. Domestic and wild cats share a gene mutation that keeps their sweet taste buds from binding to sugary molecules like carbohydrates, leaving them with no ability to taste sweetness. Their taste buds instead respond to amino acids, bitter tastes and acids.
To aid with navigation and sensation, cats have dozens of movable vibrissae (whiskers) over their body, especially their face. These provide information on the width of gaps and on the location of objects in the dark, both by touching objects directly and by sensing air currents; they also trigger protectiveblink reflexes to protect the eyes from damage.
The average life expectancy for male indoor cats at birth is around 12 to 14 years, with females usually living a year or two longer. However, there have been reports of cats reaching into their 30s, with the oldest known cat, Creme Puff, dying at a verified age of 38. Feline life expectancy has increased significantly in recent decades. Having a cat neutered confers some health benefits, since castrated males cannot develop testicular cancer, spayed females cannot develop uterine or ovarian cancer, and both have a reduced risk of mammary cancer. The lifespan of feral cats is hard to determine accurately, although one study reported a median age of 4.7 years, with a range between 0 to 8.3 years.
Cats can suffer from a wide range of health problems, including infectious diseases, parasites, injuries and chronic disease. Vaccinations are available for many of these diseases, and domestic cats are regularly given treatments to eliminate parasites such as worms and fleas.
In addition to obvious dangers such as rodenticides, insecticides and herbicides, cats may be poisoned by many chemicals that are usually considered safe by their human guardians. This is because their livers are less effective at some forms of detoxification than those of many other animals, including humans and dogs. Some of the most common causes of poisoning in cats are antifreeze and rodent baits. It has also been suggested that cats may be particularly sensitive to environmental pollutants. When a cat has a sudden or prolonged serious illness without any obvious cause, it is possible that it has been exposed to a toxin.
Many human medicines should never be given to cats. For example, the painkiller paracetamol (also called acetaminophen, sold as Tylenol and Panadol) is extremely toxic to cats: even very small doses need immediate treatment and can be fatal. Even aspirin, which is sometimes used to treat arthritis in cats, is much more toxic to them than to humans and must be administered cautiously. Similarly, application of minoxidil (Rogaine) to the skin of cats, either accidentally or by well-meaning guardians attempting to counter loss of fur, has sometimes been fatal. Essential oils can be toxic to cats and there have been reported cases of serious illnesses caused by tea tree oil, including flea treatments and shampoos containing it.
Other common household substances that should be used with caution around cats include mothballs and other naphthalene products. Phenol-based products (e.g. Pine-Sol, Dettol (Lysol) orhexachlorophene) are often used for cleaning and disinfecting near cats' feeding areas or litter boxes but these can sometimes be fatal. Ethylene glycol, often used as an automotiveantifreeze, is particularly appealing to cats, and as little as a teaspoonful can be fatal. Some human foods are toxic to cats; for example chocolate can cause theobromine poisoning, although (unlike dogs) few cats will eat chocolate. Large amounts of onions or garlic are also poisonous to cats. Many houseplants are also dangerous, such as Philodendron species and the leaves of the Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum), which can cause permanent and life-threatening kidney damage.
Free-ranging cats are active both day and night, although they tend to be slightly more active at night. The timing of cats' activity is quite flexible and varied, which means that house cats may be more active in the morning and evening (crepuscular behavior), as a response to greater human activity at these times. Although they spend the majority of their time in the vicinity of their home, housecats can range many hundreds of meters from this central point, and are known to establish territories that vary considerably in size, in one study ranging from 7 to 28 hectares (17 to 69 acres).
Cats conserve energy by sleeping more than most animals, especially as they grow older. The daily duration of sleep varies, 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" for a short rest refers to the cat's tendency to fall asleep (lightly) for a brief period. While asleep, cats experience short periods of rapid eye movement sleep often accompanied by muscle twitches, which suggests that they are dreaming.
Although wildcats are solitary, the social behavior of domestic cats is much more variable and ranges from widely dispersed individuals to feral cat colonies that form around a food source, based on groups of co-operating females. Within such groups one cat is usually dominant over the others. Each cat in a colony holds a distinct territory, with sexually active males having the largest territories, which are about ten times larger than those of female cats and may overlap with several females' territories. These territories are marked by urine spraying, by rubbing objects at head height with secretions from facial glands, and by defecation. Between these territories are neutral areas where cats watch and greet one another without territorial conflicts. Outside these neutral areas, territory holders usually chase away stranger cats, at first by staring, hissing, and growling, and if that does not work, by short but noisy and violent attacks. Despite some cats cohabiting in colonies, cats do not have a social survival strategy, or apack mentality and always hunt alone.
Domestic cats use many vocalizations for communication, including purring, trilling, hissing, growling/snarling, grunting, and several different forms ofmeowing. By contrast, feral cats are generally silent. Their types of body language, including position of ears and tail, relaxation of whole body, and kneading of paws, are all indicators of mood. The tail and ears are particularly important social signal mechanisms in cats, e.g. with a raised tail acting as a friendly greeting, and flattened ears indicating hostility. Tail-raising also indicates the cat's position in the group's social hierarchy, with dominant individuals raising their tails less often than subordinate animals. Nose-to-nose touching is also a common greeting and may be followed by social grooming, which is solicited by one of the cats raising and tilting its head.
However, some pet cats are poorly socialized. In particular, older cats may show aggressiveness towards newly arrived kittens, which may include biting and scratching; this type of behavior is known as Feline Asocial Aggression.
Even though cats and dogs are believed to be natural enemies, they can live together if correctly socialized.
For cats, life in proximity to humans and other animals kept by them amounts to a symbiotic social adaptation. They may express great affection towards their human (and even other) companions, especially if they psychologically imprint on them at a very young age and are treated with consistent affection. It has been suggested that, ethologically, the human keeper of a cat functions as a sort of surrogate for the cat's mother, and that adult housecats live their lives in a kind of extended kittenhood, a form of behavioral neoteny. It has even been theorized that the high-pitched sounds housecats make to solicit food may mimic the cries of a hungry human infant, making them particularly hard for humans to ignore.
Cats are known for their cleanliness, spending many hours licking their coats. The cat's tongue has backwards-facing spines about 500 micrometers long, which are called papillae. These are quite rigid, as they contain keratin. These spines allow cats to groom themselves by licking their fur, with the rows of papillae acting like a hairbrush. Some cats, particularly longhaired cats, occasionally regurgitate hairballs of fur that have collected in their stomachs from grooming. These clumps of fur are usually sausage-shaped and about two to three centimeters long. Hairballs can be prevented with remedies that ease elimination of the hair through the gut, as well as regular grooming of the coat with a comb or stiff brush. Some cats can develop a compulsive behavior known as psychogenic alopecia, or excessive grooming.
Domestic cats, especially young kittens, are known for their love of play. This behavior mimics hunting and is important in helping kittens learn to stalk, capture, and kill prey. Cats will also engage in play fighting, with each other and with humans. This behavior may be a way for cats to practice the skills needed for real combat, and might also reduce any fear they associate with launching attacks on other animals.
Owing to the close similarity between play and hunting, cats prefer to play with objects that resemble prey, such as small furry toys that move rapidly, but rapidly lose interest (they become habituated) in a toy they have played with before. Cats also tend to play with toys more when they are hungry. String is often used as a toy, but if it is eaten it can become caught at the base of the cat's tongue and then move into the intestines, a medical emergency which can cause serious illness, even death. Owing to the risks posed by cats eating string, it is sometimes replaced with alaser pointer's dot, which cats may chase. While concerns have been raised about the safety of these lasers, John Marshall, an ophthalmologist atSt Thomas' Hospital, has stated that it would be "virtually impossible" to blind a cat with a laser pointer.
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