Smithsonian Answer Book: Cats


What are cats? How do cats hunt? Do wild cats like catnip? Do cats dream? Cats in Question, a new book in Smithsonian's highly successful “In Question” series, offers authoritative and engaging answers to the thousands of questions about cats that Smithsonian scientists receive annually. All of the world’s cats are here, from fearsome predators such as lions and tigers, to mysterious hunters such as leopards and jaguars, to cuddly pets such as domestic cats. More than 100 breathtaking photographs by acclaimed ...
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What are cats? How do cats hunt? Do wild cats like catnip? Do cats dream? Cats in Question, a new book in Smithsonian's highly successful “In Question” series, offers authoritative and engaging answers to the thousands of questions about cats that Smithsonian scientists receive annually. All of the world’s cats are here, from fearsome predators such as lions and tigers, to mysterious hunters such as leopards and jaguars, to cuddly pets such as domestic cats. More than 100 breathtaking photographs by acclaimed photographer Art Wolfe illustrate the questions on cat facts, cat evolution and diversity, and cats and humans.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Seidensticker and Lumpkin, editors of Great Cats and Cats and Wild Cats, have compiled a fascinating, authoritative mix of information about felines, both wild and domestic. They cover cat biology, evolution, ecology, social life, diversity, and relationships with humans in an easy-to-read Q&A format (e.g., Why are wild cat numbers declining? When and where were cats domesticated?); answers range in length from a paragraph to several pages. While understandable to lay readers, the text also offers many examples and cites scientific studies for those who would like additional details. The book will prove useful to those who want to read the entire work and those who want to browse individual entries. Color photographs by Art Wolfe enhance the text. Recommended for public, high school, and college libraries.-Sue O'Brien, Downers Grove P.L., IL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781588341266
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
  • Publication date: 10/6/2004
  • Series: Smithsonian's in Question Series
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface xi
Acknowledgments xiii
Introduction xv
1 Cat Facts
What Are Cats? 1
How Are Cats Classified? 2
How Do Cats Differ from Other Carnivores? 4
Physical Features and Senses
How Are Cats Alike? 4
Why Can't Cheetahs Retract Their Claws? 11
How Do Cats Climb? 12
How Do Cats See? 12
How Can Cats See in the Dark? 15
Are Cats Color-blind? 16
How Do Cats Hear? 17
How Do Cats Taste and Smell? 19
How Do Cats Sense the World through Touch? 20
What Are Cats' Coats Like in Texture, and Why Are They Striped, Spotted, or Plain? 22
Why Do Cats Have White Spots on the Backs of Their Ears? 23
Why Are Some Cats Black? 25
Why Are Some Cats White? 27
Do Male and Female Cats Look Alike? 29
Why Are Male Cats Larger Than Females? 30
What Is the Main Purpose of Manes in Lions? 32
What Are the Biggest Cat and the Smallest Cat? 34
What Does Size Have to Do with It? 35
Diet and Predation
What Do Cats Eat? 42
Do Cats Hunt Indiscriminately? 45
Why Don't Cats Eat Fruits and Vegetables? 47
Do Cats Need Water? 50
Do All Cats Avoid Water, as Domestic Cats Do? Can All Cats Swim? 50
Where Do Cats Hunt? 52
When Do Cats Hunt? 56
How Far Do Cats Travel in a Day or Night and How Fast? 59
How Do Cats Find and Pursue Prey? 61
How Fast Can Cats Run? 66
How Far Can Cats Jump? 66
Are Cats Perfect Hunters? 68
How Do Cats Kill Prey? 70
Are Cats Ever Hurt by Prey? 72
Why Do Cats Sometimes Kill More Than They Can Eat? 74
How Much Prey Do Cats Kill and How Often? 75
Do Cats Store Food? 76
Do Cat Numbers Affect Prey Numbers and Vice Versa? 77
Social Behavior
Why Do Most Wild Cats Live Alone and Why Are Some Species Exceptional? 81
How Does a Cat's Home Range Relate to Its Reproductive Success? 84
How Big Are Cat Home Ranges? 85
How Do Solitary Cats Communicate? 88
What Is Scent Marking? 89
Do All Cats Spray? 91
Do All Cats Bury Their Feces? 91
Do All Cats Head-rub? 93
What Is Flehmen? 93
What Are Some Cat Vocalizations? 95
Do Big Cats Roar and Small Cats Purr? 95
Why Do Cats Roar, Chirp, or Meow? 96
Why Do Cats Purr? 98
How Often Do Cats Reproduce? 99
How Do Cats Find Mates? 101
How Do Cats Mate? 103
How Long Is Gestation? 105
How Many Babies Are in a Litter? 105
Where Do Cats Have Their Babies? 107
Do Fathers Help Raise Young? 109
How Large Are Newborn Cats and How Fast Do They Grow Up? 110
How Do Cats Learn to Hunt? 113
Cat Life
Where and How Much Do Cats Sleep? 117
Do Cats Dream? 118
How Smart Are Cats? 119
Do Cats Have Enemies? 121
Are Cats Always Afraid of Dogs? 122
Do Cats Get Sick? 122
Do Cats Have Nine Lives? 125
Do Cars Kill Many Wild Cats? 126
How Long Can Cats Live? 126
Do Domestic Cats Always Land on Their Feet? 127
Do Wild Cats Like Catnip? 128
2 Cat Evolution and Diversity
When and Where Did Cats Evolve? 131
How Do Different Cat Species Evolve? 135
What Are Saber-toothed Cats? 136
Were Big Cats Once Bigger? 138
Did Lions and Tigers Once Live in North America? 139
Distribution and Abundance
In What Parts of the World Do Cats Live? 139
How Widely Distributed Are Various Cats? 141
What Are the Rarest Cats? 142
What Characterizes the Lineages of Cats? 144
Panthera Lineage: Clouded Leopard, Lion, Tiger, Jaguar, Leopard, and Snow Leopard, plus Marbled Cat 144
Lynx Lineage: Bobcat, Canada Lynx, Eurasian Lynx, and Iberian Lynx 147
Leopard Cat Lineage: Leopard Cat, Iriomote Cat, Fishing Cat, Flat-headed Cat, plus Rusty-spotted Cat 148
Caracal Lineage: Caracal and African Golden Cat, plus Serval 149
Bay Cat Lineage: Bay Cat and Asian Golden Cat 149
Puma Lineage: Cheetah, Puma, and Jaguarundi 150
Felis Lineage: Wildcat, Domestic Cat, Chinese Mountain Cat, Sand Cat, Jungle Cat, and Black-footed Cat, plus Pallas' Cat 151
Leopardus Lineage: Ocelot, Margay, Oncilla, Chilean Pampas Cat, Pantanal Cat, Argentinean Pampas Cat, Kodkod, Geoffroy's Cat, and Andean Mountain Cat 152
How Many Different Cat Species Can Live in One Area? 154
3 Cats and Humans
Decline and Recovery
Why Are Wild Cat Numbers Declining? 159
How Do People Affect Wild Cats? 160
What Is the Large Carnivore Problem? 161
What Is Happening to All the Wild Cat Habitat? 162
Why Are Some Cats More Vulnerable Than Others to the Actions of People? 164
How Does the Wildlife Trade Affect Cats? 166
What Are the Most Endangered Cats? 167
What Do We Mean When We Say Cats Are Umbrella, Flagship, Landscape, Keystone, or Indicator Species? 170
How Can We Save Wild Cats? 172
What Can I Do to Help? 174
Domestic Cats
When and Where Were Cats Domesticated? 175
How Did Domestic Cats Spread from Egypt to the Rest of the World? 177
What's the Difference between Wildcats and Domestic Cats? 178
What Are Feral Cats and How Do They Live? 180
Why Are Feral Cats-and Pet Cats-Sometimes a Menace? 181
How Many Breeds of Domestic Cats Exist and Where Did They Come From? 184
Why Are Cats, Especially Black Cats, Associated with Witches? 186
What Are Some Superstitions about Cats? 188
Man Killing
Do Cats Attack and Kill People? 189
Why Do Cats Attack People? 192
How Can Someone Avoid a Large Cat Attack? 194
Who Are Some Famous Man-eaters? 195
How Did Our Defenseless Ancestors Get along with Big Cats? 196
Cats and Culture
What Roles Have Lions Played in Different Cultures? 197
What Roles Have Tigers Played in Different Cultures? 199
What Roles Have Jaguars and Pumas Played in Different Cultures? 200
What about the Roles of Other Wild Cats in Human Cultures? 201
What Practical Uses Do People Have for Cats? 203
What Good Are Wild Cats to People? 207
Cats and Science
How Can I Become a Wild Cat Biologist? 207
How Do Scientists Study Cats Living in the Wild? 210
How Do We Tell Individual Wild Cats Apart to Study Them? 213
How Are Big Cats Caught? 216
What Is Left to Learn about Cats? 219
Where Can I Get More Information about Cats? 221
Appendix 1 Scientific and Common Names of the Family Felidae 223
Appendix 2 Conservation Status of Cats of the World in 2003, according to Top Three Authorities 225
Appendix 3 Web Resources on Cats 227
Glossary 228
References 232
Taxonomic Index 247
Subject Index 249
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