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Scientific classification

All cats are members of the family Felidae. The felines are the most strictly carnivorous of all the nine families in the order to which they belong, Carnivora. It is thought that the closest relatives of the cats are the other families in their branch of the carnivore evolutionary tree: the civets, hyenas, and mongooses. The first felids emerged during the Eocene, about 40 million years ago. The most familiar feline is the Domestic Cat, which first became associated with humans between 7000 and 4000 years ago. Its wild relatives remain in Africa and western Asia to this day, although habitat destruction has restricted their range.

Other well-known members of the cat family include big cats such as the Lion, Tiger, Leopard, Jaguar, and Cheetah (although the Cheetah, despite its size, appears to be descended from the small cats), and other wild cats such as the lynxes, Puma, and Bobcat.

Table of contents
1 A classification of cats
2 Fossil cats
3 References
4 See also

A classification of cats

Subfamily Felinae

Genus Felis

Genus Otocolobus

Genus Catopuma

Genus Profelis

Genus Prionailurus

Genus Lynx

Genus Caracal

Genus Leptailurus

Genus Herpailurus

Genus Oncifelis

Genus Oreailurus

Genus Leopardus

Genus Puma

Subfamily Pantherinae

Genus Pardofelis

Genus Neofelis

Genus Uncia

Genus Panthera

Subfamily Acinonychinae

Genus Acinonyx

Fossil cats

The oldest known felines (Aelurogale, Eofelis) emerged in the Eocene. Better known is Proailurus, which lived in the Oligocene and Miocene eras. During the Miocene it gave way to Pseudaelurus. Pseudaelurus is believed to be the latest common ancestor of the three above-mentioned subfamilies and another subfamily, the Machairodontinae. This group, better known as the sabertooth cats, became extinct in the Pleistocene era. It includes the genera Smilodon, Machairodus, Dinofelis and Homotherium.


See also

Felidae is also the title of a novel by Akif Pirincci in which a cat named Joseph investigates the murders of several cats in the big city. The sequel is Felidae on the Road.