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There are about 39 species of cats . Native cats are found worldwide except in Australia and Antarctica. However humans have introduced domestic cats throughout the world. Cats range from small (1 kg) to large (300kg, Siberian tiger), though most are medium-sized mammals. They have long tails and soft, dense fur that is often patterned with spots or stripes.

Cats are the most specialized and efficient predators of the carnivore group. They are powerful and agile. Their shortened face increases the amount of force they can put into a bite and their teeth are specialized for stabbing and cutting. They have claws that retract into a sheath, allowing them to remain sharpened. All cat species rely mainly on catching and killing their own prey. Prey are usually approached stealthily and then captured with a sudden burst of speed, they are most often killed with a bite to the neck. Cats have superb senses, including especially well-developed vision. They also have excellent senses of hearing and smell and, at close range, use their long whiskers.

Most cats live on their own, although lions are group-living.

Cats are found in a wide variety of habitats, from deserts to tropical forests, mountains, wetlands, and grasslands.

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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. "Felidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 13, 2024 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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