The cat (Felis catus), also known as the domestic cat or housecat to distinguish it from other felines and felids, is a small carnivorous mammal that is valued by humans for its companionship and its ability to hunt vermin and household pests. It has been associated with humans for at least 9,500 years and is currently the most popular pet in the world.
A skilled predator, the cat is known to hunt over 1,000 species for food. It can be trained to obey simple commands. Individual cats have also been known to learn on their own to manipulate simple mechanisms, such as doorknobs and toilet handles. Cats use a variety of vocalizations and types of body language for communication, including meowing, purring, “trilling”, hissing, growling, squeaking, chirping, clicking, and grunting. They are also bred and shown as registered pedigree pets. This hobby is known as “cat fancy”.
Until recently the cat was commonly believed to have been domesticated in ancient Egypt, where it was a cult animal. However, in 2004, a domesticated cat that was buried 9,500 years ago was discovered in Cyprus, and a study in 2007 found that the lines of descent of all house cats probably run through as few as five self-domesticating African Wildcats (Felis silvestris lybica) circa 8000 BC, in the Near East.