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The domestic, mixed-breed cat, Felis silvestris catus, is a typical feline pet without a pedigree. They may also be called house cats, and people in the U.K. use the term "moggies." A lack of breeding papers in no way detracts from them being beautiful, noble, and loving companion animals. The domestic cat has been around a long time. A 9,000-year-old grave on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus revealed a cat buried with a human, presumably due to being a companion animal.
Weight: 8 to 10 pounds
Length: About a foot and a half long
Coat: Varies; short, medium, or long
Coat Color: Wide variety; Most common colors include black, white, gray, and red (orange) with tabby, calico, tortoiseshell, and tuxedo color patterns.
Eye Color: Wide variety; although greenish-yellow to gold is most common
Life Expectancy: 14 to 20 years
Characteristics of the Domestic Cat
History of the Domestic Cat
Domestic cats have a rich history. Cats are believed to have been domesticated in the Middle East at about the time humans developed agriculture (estimated 12,000 years ago). Cats served to keep rodents away from stored grain. They were considered sacred by the Egyptians and mummified with their owners. Cats were part of life in the city and the country, prized most for their abilities as rodent hunters.
Biologically, a mixed breed cat is a cross between cats of two different breeds or a purebred cat and a domestic cat. If your cat resembles a known cat breed you may call it a mix. However, without registration papers from a breeder, you will not be able to enter it in a cat show as a specific breed. In cat shows that allow them, these cats are shown in the Household Pets or Domestic Cats classes.
Domestic cats spread throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, but were not known in the Americas or Australia until brought there by European explorers. Cats were part of sailing life (for rodent control), and it was by these ships that they were introduced to the New World.
Domestic cats can revert to being feral cats and adapt to a wide variety of environments, including deserts, forests, wetlands, and city streets. Street cats or alley cats tend to end up in animal shelters and the foster homes of cat rescues.
Pet cats exceed pet dogs with estimates by the American Veterinary Medical Association of more than 74 million pet cats in the U.S., which is more than 30 percent of households nationwide. The feral cat population, by comparison, is somewhere between 25 to 60 million.
Domestic Cat Care
Domestic cats can be large, small, patterned, or tailless, depending on their lineage, which for the majority of mixed breed owners, is a mystery.
Most cats are self-cleaning and fastidious by nature. Brushing your cat will help reduce matting and may help prevent hairballs. Trim your cat's nails every two to three weeks and provide a scratching post. If your cat will let you, brush your cat's teeth regularly. Cats will usually need dental cleanings by the veterinarian.
Indoor-only cats have the longest lifespans. For example, indoor cats can live up to 14 to 20 years; meanwhile, an average lifespan for an outdoor cat is 3 to 10; and even less, 4 to 5 years, for wild cats. It is difficult to keep an outdoor cat from roaming as most are good at climbing any fence. When outdoors, cats can be exposed to infections from other animals, get into gruesome fights, get attacked by predators, or may be run over by vehicles. Outdoor cats can also cause injury or death to outdoor birds and other wildlife.
Indoor cats will need a litter box in a quiet area. Be sure to completely clean the box at least once a week. Using clumping litter and scooping out the clumps daily can keep things tidy.
Your indoor cat needs plenty of chances to play and chase toys. You should spend time each day in active play with your cat. Some cats can be trained to walk on a leash. Cats like lots of sleep and cat naps, so provide a comfortable bed and other places around your living area where your cat can lounge and retreat.
Cats have a wide variety of personalities, ranging from standoffish to clingy. Early socialization with a variety of people can help a cat be less timid around newcomers. Cats often do well with other cats and cat-friendly dogs, especially if raised together. However, domestic cats still have predatory instincts for rodents, birds, and fish, whether or not they are pets. It's best to keep those animals safely away from your cat.
Common Health Problems
Spay or neuter your pet by age 5 months, if you do not intend to breed your cat. Be sure to stay up-to-date on veterinary visits and vaccinations to prevent common and serious problems.
Mixed breeds generally have a healthier outlook, since they are not prone to breed-specific diseases. Although, no cat is 100 percent risk-free from health concerns. The American Society for the Prevention of the Cruelty to Animals lists the following diseases as the most prevalent among all cats:
- Cancer: Usually found in older cats, be alert for any lumps or unusual skin changes. Lymphoma is a common cat cancer.
- Diabetes: Cats that are obese, male, and older are at highest risk.
- Feline immunodeficiency virus: Spread from cat to cat when they fight and incur deep bites. To prevent it, keep your cat indoors and away from cats that are territorial or aggressive.
- Feline leukemia virus damages the immune system and makes cats more susceptible to developing blood cancer. To reduce the risk of getting it, cats can get the feline leukemia virus vaccine.
Diet and Nutrition
Cats are naturally carnivores and require taurine in their diet. A wet food diet is often considered best, but you can leave out dry food for your cat to snack on as well. Discuss your cat's needs with your veterinarian, especially if your cat has diabetes, is obese, or is older. It is good to monitor your cat's weight and take steps to prevent excess weight gain, which can shorten your pet's lifespan. Provide fresh, clean water for your cat at all times.
Examine These 7 Pretty Tortoiseshell Cats and Kittens
As a mixed breed, the cat is at a lower risk of acquiring a breed-related health condition
Most mixed breeds have a higher-than-average life span
These cats usually do no have any special diets or care requirements
With a mixed breed, you usually do not know the lineage of the cat and may not be aware of a history of health concerns
Unlike purebred cats, which have common traits, you will not know your cat's attributes until it grows to adulthood
Where to Adopt or Buy a Domestic and Mixed Breed Cat
You should be able to find a domestic, mixed breed cat through a local rescue organization, check out:
- Adopt a Pet
More Cat Breeds and Further Research
Before you decide to adopt a domestic cat, be sure to talk to other cat owners, reputable breeders, and rescue organizations. There are many loving domestic cats of every shape, size, coat, and pattern awaiting their forever homes at shelters.