One of the most fascinating aspects of cat biology is that, from the two-pound black footed cat to the five hundred pound tiger, cats of all variations have one common theme. When you have a cat in your house you live with the essence of a tiger.

The classification of felids has been a long and bitter debate among taxonomists. The various classification schemes have been based on an array of morphological, behavioral, and genetic characteristics including vocalizations, shape and size, cranial dimensions, foot and nose morphology, hybridization records, karyotype, and most recently DNA analysis. Each wild cat species also has a classification with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Read more about IUCN and CITES here.

Fé-li-dé - a cosmopolitan family comprising lithe bodied carnivorous mammals having often strikingly patterned fur.

Common Traits
• Lithe and agile soft-furred body
• Acute vision and hearing, sense of smell
• Claws and teeth adapted for tearing and grasping
• Short faces, small broad skulls
• Ears erect and rotate readily to pick up sound
• Paws well padded -forefeet 5 toes, hind feet 4 toes
• Digitigrades - walk on toes with back part of foot raised
• Claws sharp and retractile except cheetah
• Hunt in dim light - stalk - Lie in wait
• All except lion - serially monogamous

Photo courtesy of Gemma Gylling