cat

Introduction

cat, name applied broadly to the carnivorous mammals constituting the family Felidae, and specifically to the domestic cat, Felis catus. The great roaring cats, the lion, tiger, and leopard are anatomically very similar to one another and constitute the genus Panthera, which also includes the jaguar and, in some systems, the snow leopard. The clouded leopards, Neofelis, and the cheetah, Acinonyx, are big cats that, like the jaguar and snow leopard, do not roar. The medium-sized and small cats are classified by most zoologists in different genera, but they were previously all put in the single genus Felis, despite the great variation among them. Among these cats are the puma (or cougar) and the jaguarundi, genus Puma, the lynx (including the bobcat), Lynx, the ocelot, Leopardus, the serval, Leptailurus, and many small species described by the name cat or wildcat, such as the several golden cats and European wildcat, as well as the domestic cat. The small cats are generally ticked, striped, or spotted. The largest member of genus Felis is the jungle cat, F. chaus, of N Africa and Asia, found as far E as Indochina. It lives in a variety of habitats, especially open woodlands and scrub. It is also known as the jungle lynx but is not a true lynx.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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