Throughout history the domestic feline has been protected, valued and cherished. The ancient Egyptians worshipped the cat and most subsequent civilizations have held cats in high esteem. The cat has managed to remain virtually unchanged in size and shape. They tolerate a relationship with people and love the comforts of a good home, but barely concealed underneath its domestic appearance the cat of today still has all the hunting skills of its forebears. If given the opportunity, even the most spoilt cats will react to the thrill of the chase.
Having a cat in the home is both therapeutic and rewarding. They are easy to look after, are peaceful company and no other pet is as fastidious in its habits. All cats are beautiful, but the individual tastes of cat-lovers are catered for in the wide range of breeds and colours available. The cat is equally loving and ferocious, able to live happily with humans or survive as a feral. Small in stature, the cat has always relied on its skill and speed to escape from predators and to hunt its own prey.
A female is capable of rearing two or three litters every year providing she is well fed. They have highly developed maternal feelings and are reluctant to leave their litter, staying permanently on guard of her kittens. As the kittens develop, the mother teaches them to wash themselves, to play and eat. Young kittens start to develop predatory behaviour from about six weeks of age. They will crouch in ambush, pouncing on each other. Cats prefer to hunt alone. They have excellent vision even at dusk and dawn and with their acute hearing, they are able to ascertain the location of their prey. They attack with a strong leap, grasping the victim with extended paws before biting the prey. However, a well fed cat will want to play with the prey for a while before a kill is made, having enjoyed the stalking and hunting. Even the most domesticated cats will hunt if given the opportunity. Indoor cats can satisfy their hunting skills by playing with catnip-filled mice. The cat is an excellent jumper and is usually able to clear four times its own height from a crouching position. Climbing upwards is easy for the cat as the hindquarters propel the cat upwards, whilst using the unsheathed claws to grip. Descending is a more difficult move as the weaker forelimbs have to take the strain.
Upon waking a cat generally stretches, yawns and is then ready for action. It may well start self-grooming with its tongue and paws. Mother cats spend long periods washing their kittens, creating a bond between them. Sick cats may not be able to wash themselves and this function should be carried out for them as they are naturally clean and fastidious. If they have been washed and gently groomed it may help the cat to recover.