The domestic cat (Felis catus or Felis silvestris catus) is a small, usually furry, domesticated, and carnivorous mammal. They are often called housecats when kept as an indoor pet or simply cats when there is no need to distinguish them from other felids and felines. Cats are often valued by humans for companionship and their ability to hunt pests.
Cats are similar in anatomy to the other felids, with strong, flexible bodies, quick reflexes, sharp retractable claws, and teeth adapted to killing small prey. Cat senses fit a crepuscular and predatory ecological niche. Cats can hear sounds too faint or too high in frequency for human ears, such as those made by mice and other small animals. They can see in near darkness. Like most other mammals, cats have poorer color vision and a bettersense of smell than humans.
Despite being solitary hunters, cats are a social species and cat communication includes the use of a variety of vocalizations (mewing, purring, trilling, hissing, growling and grunting), as well as cat pheromones and types of cat-specific body language.
Cats have a high breeding rate. Under controlled breeding, they can be bred and shown as registered pedigree pets, a hobby known as cat fancy. Failure to control the breeding of pet cats by neutering and the abandonment of former household pets, has resulted in large numbers of feral catsworldwide, requiring population control. This has led to extinction of many bird species.
Since cats were cult animals in ancient Egypt, they were commonly believed to have been domesticated there, but there may have been instances of domestication as early as the Neolithic from around 9,500 years ago (7,500 BC). A genetic study in 2007, concluded that domestic cats are descended from African wildcats (Felis silvestris lybica), having diverged around 8,000 BC in West Asia. Cats are the most popular pet in the world, and are now found in almost every place where humans live.