What Traits Do All Cats Share?

All felines, big or small, young or old, share certain skills, traits and needs.

All felines, big or small, young or old, share certain skills, traits and needs.

All cats have their own personalities. Just ask anyone who has ever been "owned" by more than one cat! The pets can be holy terrors or angelic little pussycats. All members of the feline species share some traits, however, and they all have to do with survival.

Physical Traits

Some physical traits common to all cats, both big and small, have to do with their survival and way of life. All cats, including lions and tigers, have sandpaper tongues. Since cats are carnivores, nature has given them certain gifts to help them with their survival. The rough tongue acts like a steel wool pad to scrape all the meat off the bones of the hapless critter, be it a mouse or a moose, the cat is having for lunch. All cats, with the exception of the cheetah, come fully equipped with retractable claws. They also come with night-vision goggles in the form of those beautiful green or blue eyes that have more rods and cones than humans do. Cats' eyes all have a tapetum lucidum, which causes their eyes to glow in the dark.

Special Skills

All cats are good hunters. Some may not want to hunt, but that doesn't mean they can't if forced to survive. Every cat, from the mighty lion to the mini-munchkin, has the ability to catch and kill prey. The only difference is the size of the prey. Also, cats are very flexible; even the most talented Olympic gymnast cannot curl, stretch, twist, roll and jump like every healthy, normal cat can. The Cat Fanciers' Association lists 42 distinct breeds of cat, and there are almost as many coat types, colors and patterns. All cats have the ability to shed their coats in summer and grow it thicker in winter. All cats have the ability to hide their pain and suffering very well. All cats, with the exception of the big cats, can purr, though they all have different reasons for doing it. Even the medium cats -- bobcats, ocelots and lynxes, for example -- purr.

Special Needs

All cats have a particular set of needs to be happy and healthy. Cats all need an amino acid called taurine to survive. Therefore, all cats share the trait of never being able to join the vegetarian society. Taurine is only found in animal products and cannot be manufactured artificially. Most mammals can make their own taurine from other amino acids, but cats cannot. Without taurine, cats can suffer heart failure or blindness. Cats also need to bury their feces and urine. Even cats in the wild do so to hide their presence in case any bigger predators get any ideas. Even the big cats cover their solid waste. Cats are the only animals that are both prey and predator.

Cool Cat Facts

All cats have scent glands on their paws, faces and foreheads. They also all have the same greeting. They sniff one another's noses, then they kind of bump flanks, and finally they turn and present their anal opening to the other cat in a gesture of "Yes, yes, get to know me a little better." Many cat owners report their cats are always doing that to them and they don't know why. Their kitties are just communicating the way all cats do. Cat personalities vary greatly, but personality traits shared by all cats are their independent natures, cleanliness habits and the ability to be aloof and very, very quiet when necessary. All cats lift their tails high in the air when being friendly or happy, and will sway their tails slowly back and forth when processing fear, anxiety or anger.

 

About the Author

Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.

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