There are 8.7 million species on the planet, which means that you and your cat are only a tiny fraction of the view in a diverse environment. We have common ancestors with chimpanzees, squids, and even single-celled organisms, so it only makes sense that we share a pedigree with cats that also live in our homes. But you may be surprised at how closely we are connected.
In an attempt to make things more orderly, a taxonomy system was invented. By using an eight-step hierarchy of increasing specificity, it is easier to determine how closely related two species are and what traits they might have with similar offspring. People, dogs and dolphins are all mammals, but cats? Let’s go through taxonomy to figure out – and figure out exactly where cats fit.
All plants, mushrooms and protozoa fall into their own kingdoms, and cats – into one of the most diverse and complex kingdoms: Kingdom Animalia. This kingdom represents every animal, from the smallest ant to the most massive blue whale. All representatives of the animal world are multicellular and use aerobic respiration. Animals are able to move and reproduce sexually. Of course, we need to make things much narrower if we want to get closer to cat classification.
Although some members of the Chordata type do not have a spine, most of its members are defined by the presence of a spinal column surrounded by nerve endings that extend to the rest of the body. Chordates are the most diverse type in the animal kingdom, but there are some common features common to most of them. This includes at least a rudimentary form of some kind of brain structure that controls the senses, as well as a closed circulatory system for transporting blood through the body. All cats share a complex brain structure and sense organs, but they share their type with creatures as diverse as fish, crocodiles and birds.
Why infrafils are not generally recognized parts of the taxonomic system, they allow a narrower classification of a given type. Gnatostomas are vertebrates that have a jawbone. Organisms that fall under this classification are descended from cartilaginous and bony fish, but the Gnathostomata have managed to express this trait in increasingly sophisticated ways – whether in the form of a skull-crushing jaguar jaw or the instrument-like fangs of Africans. an elephant, or the serrated mouth of a great white shark.
As amphibians evolved and began to crawl out of the water in search of life on land, they gave rise to the definition of the superclass Tetrapoda – and all of their descendants fall into this category. However, not all modern tetrapods still have four legs. Snakes and whales, in particular, have lost their legs over generations, but they still descend from the earliest tetrapods. Others, such as humans and other monkeys, have adapted to walk on two legs and turned their front legs into more delicate manipulation tools.
Cats have retained the four legs of their four-legged ancestors and adapted them to be more effective killers – the cheetah species are capable of speeds up to 80 miles per hour. Others – such as the black panther and even the domesticated cat – have adapted their four legs for climbing and can navigate tree tops as skillfully as they can on the ground.
About 200 million years have passed since the first mammals appeared, but they continue to be a remarkably diverse and innovative life form. The earliest mammals lived alongside dinosaurs, and the most important difference that separated them from reptiles and amphibians was their metabolic efficiency, which allowed them to remain active for longer periods of time rather than working in short bursts. Although some dinosaurs and birds are also warm-blooded, the metabolic efficiency of mammals has allowed them to thrive and cover the planet today. Mammals have six more commonly known traits.
- Refined inner ear – The three bones that make up the inner ear of every mammal provide a complex hearing that can assess pitch, tone, direction and other differences and convert them into complex nerve impulses. The shape of feline ears and the complex muscles that allow them to control each ear independently provide them with a sense of hearing that goes far beyond human and canine.
- Mammary gland “All mammals can produce milk to feed their young, and almost all mammals have grown nipples to facilitate breastfeeding. Rare exceptions, such as the platypus with the platypus, have never developed nipples or given birth to live babies, but they still have mammary glands and produce milk. The average domestic cat will breastfeed for six to eight weeks before switching to solid foods.
- Hair or fur “Although the color, thickness and pattern may vary, every mammal on the planet has some kind of fur or hair. This primarily serves as protection from the cold, but can also be used for camouflage or even as a protective measure – as is the case with porcupine quills. Cats are no exception! Even the supposedly bald Sphynx cat has a soft layer of fluffy fur. The whiskers sticking out of the cat’s face are actually the future too – and they serve a special purpose as a sensory tool.
- Diaphragm “The lungs are not the exclusive domain of mammals, but the success of the Mammalia class has a lot to do with the efficiency of their diaphragm. The diaphragm helps regulate the flow of air into the lungs – and when combined with the high metabolism of mammals, it allows them to be more mobile and active than many other animals. The diaphragm not only helps the cat to breathe, but is also used when the domestic cat purrs.
- Hearts with four chambers “Each chordate has an internal circulatory system, but only mammals and birds have evolved to have a four-chambered heart. As a result, the cardiovascular system works more efficiently than that of amphibians, fish and reptiles. This is another evolutionary factor that allows mammals to stay active and push themselves towards new feats of physical endurance. In the case of the cheetah, this means going from a resting heart rate of 120 beats per minute to an active heart rate of 250 beats per minute in just a few seconds. It’s not just speed that makes them such effective predators. This is also an acceleration.
- Single-bone lower jaw – Articulated jaws are not unique to mammals, but all members of this class are defined by the presence of a articulated jaw with a mandible made from a single piece. The loops holding this jaw together create an effective chewing method. For creatures like the cow, this power can help them chop up rough and fibrous vegetation. Cats, in particular, have developed jaws that can open very wide, allowing them to grab their prey by the neck in one bite.
Next: Marsupial mammals?