Cats – Felidae, Ideal Predator Bodies
Estimates vary by source but there are approximately 40 species in the cat family (Felidae). There has been considerable disagreement as to the organization of the cat family, living and extinct, but genetic study is now allowing scientists to more firmly define which species are mostly closely related.
Of all predators, cats are probably the most efficient killers. Coloring, size and fur patterning vary within the family, but all species from the smallest to the largest are basically similar in appearance and proportions to the domestic cat and the ideal predatory body design.
Cat bodies are muscular and flexible and the head is typically shortened and rounded, with large forward-directed eyes. Limbs can be proportionally short or long but in all species except the cheetah there are long, sharp, completely retractile claws on the feet for the grasping of prey, however, the attack practically always involves a bite from powerful jaws, which are armed with well-developed dagger-like canines. Shearing cheek teeth are used for slicing through flesh.
This successful family is distributed almost worldwide in the wild and of course fat lazy domestic cats have it easy everywhere in the world.
Sadly the danger for them is that they have very pretty fur and man can’t resist hunting them, with some species in danger of extinction.
Photo search for "felidae" on Flickr.com:
Click on thumbnails to see picture details on Flickr