How similar are little cats and big cats?

Posted by Maggie the Moggie. October 25th 2014.

The domestic moggy has more in common with its larger relatives than you might think. If you’ve ever watched any wildlife shows or gone to visit the tiger enclosure at the zoo, you’ll soon recognise some familiar behaviour.

All cats come from the same ancestor

Your beautiful Persian cat might spend much of its life grooming. So do tigers, lions and all members of the feline species. Big cats hunt, so does the domestic.

That’s because all cats share a very similar genome. Researchers at the Genome Research Foundation in South Korea have discovered that all cats share the same DNA and all of these wonderful animals have a common ancestor that can be traced back to 11 million years ago.


Scent marking is essential in cats

A recent survey carried out by pet food producers Whiskas looked into the similarities between large wild cats and their smaller domestic cousins. Big cats will rub their faces against a dominant cat, e.g. subservient lions in the wild will nuzzle against the leader of the pride in order to indicate that they recognise the hierarchical structure of the group. Domestic families carry out the same behaviour with their owners. What both sets of animals are doing is to reinforce their scent, and show that they belong. You’ll also see a tiger in the wild marking their territory in the same way that your own cat will constantly spray in your garden to inform any intruders that this area is their environment, and any intruders should beware.

A Bengal cat

Kneading denotes comfort in all cats

Every cat owner will recognise that when their cat is content and comfortable, it will make a kneading motion with its forelegs. The same behaviour can be seen in big cats. In order to stimulate a nursing mother at feeding time, kittens would practice this kneading action. This habit is retained throughout adulthood to denote contentment.

All cats climb

You may become infuriated each time your pet decides to climb on top of a cupboard and stay there but this behaviour is echoed by those cats that live in the wild, except they choose rocks or trees rather than items of domestic furniture. The same applies to pets that only like to feed from a bowl that’s slightly raised off the ground. It’s all a matter of safety and instinct. If a cat can feed from or sit on a high point, they can protect their food from their enemies, and they will be able to defend themselves from their enemies. Big cats and domestic felines have more in common than you may ever have imagined.

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