Cats belong to the family called 'Felidea'. Interestingly enough, the cat family split from the other mammals at least 40,000,000 years ago, making them one of the oldest mammalian families.
All cats share certain characteristics that are unique to the cat family.
Adult cats average about 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 centimetres) tall at the shoulder. Most cats weigh from 6 to 15 pounds (2.7 to 7 kilograms). Some cats weigh more than 20 pounds (9 kilograms).
Cats are natural hunting animals and have strong predatory instincts. Cats are built as a perfect hunting animal, they have powerful jaws, long sharp teeth and claws that retract back into their paws when not in use. Cats have acute hearing (more sensitive than a dogs or humans) and excellent eyesight that is adapted for dim vision, which enables them to hunt mainly after dusk and before dawn.
Most of a cats muscles are long, thin and flexible. They enable a cat to move with great ease and speed. Cats can run about 30 miles (48 kilometres) per hour. Unlike many animals, a cat walks by moving the front and rear legs on one side of its body at the same time and then the legs on the other side. As a result, a cat seems to glide.
You can tell a cats mood just by looking into its eyes. A frightened or excited cat will have large pupils, whereas an angry cat will have narrowed pupils. Both humans and cats have identical regions in the brain responsible for emotion.
Cats are pure carnivores (meat-eaters) and require a lot of meat and a lot of protein in their diet, usually around 30%. Cats tend not to eat fruit and vegetables as they do not have an adequate digestive system to cope with that kind of food, although they occassionally chew grass to help with digestion. A good well-balanced diet is essential for your cats health. There is a wide range of cat foods available:
Canned cat foods are the most popular and contain all the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Most canned food comes in a variety of flavours, including, chicken, rabbit lamb, turkey, liver, salmon, tuna, cod and game. Canned foods are available in both gravy and jelly varieties.
Foil pouches and alu-trays:
Single serve packaging such as 100 gram foil pouches and alu-trays have become popular with cat owners due to their convenience and cost. Most cats will only eat 100 grams of food in one serving resulting in a lot of wastage when using the 400 gram canned food. Foil pouches come in many delicious flavours including duck, turkey, lamb, liver, chicken and rabbit. Gravy and jelly varieties are also available in foil pouches.
Dried cat food is becoming increasingly popular. It contains all the vitamin and minerals necessary for a complete balanced diet. Water should always be available when feeding your cat dry food. Dry food can always be mixed with food in gravy for extra nutrients.
Treats can provide an extra supplement to your cats diet and provide exercise for cats teeth and gums.
Fresh food can provide an extra source of nutrition. Cooked meat such as beef, lamb, turkey or chicken should be cooled before serving.
Dry food helps to clean the teeth and if nutritionally complete can be the bulk of the cats diet and it is easily stored. Although it must be refrigerated once opened, most cats enjoy the variety. Cats prefer their food at room temperature. Never feed your cat food that comes directly from the refrigerator. It is a good idea to take food out of the fridge around half an hour before serving to enable it to climatize to room temperature. Many cats cannot digest milk and develop diarrhoea when given cows milk. This can be particularly serious for kittens who become quickly dehydrated when suffering from diarrhoea. Cat milk is available in small plastic bottles. Always provide clean fresh water for your cat.
How much to feed your cat
Do not fill their plate. If you cannot feel your cats ribs, it is probably overweight and daily rations should be reduced. If you think you are feeding your cat adequate amounts of food, but it looks thin or loses weight, have it examined by a veterinarian. Loving owners often indulge their pets into obesity. Overweight pets have shorter life spans and are more prone to heart and respiratory problems and arthritic pain. Help your cat stay healthy by keeping it at its proper weight.
A kittens diet will be different from that of an adult and elderly cat. Generally a kitten should be fed little and often, whereas, an adult cat will need larger meals less frequently.
Cats will kill and eat small mammals, birds, fish, frogs, lizards and snakes. On farms, cats help reduce the vermin population (rats, mice, and other small, destructive animals). Cats use their acute sight and hearing to catch prey. Cats swallow large bites of meat without chewing it. Cats are primarily nocturnal (most active at night) because of their very good night vision.
If your cat is unfortunate enough to have a flea problem, visit our Flea section HERE!