Lessons with Dad: Cats

Good morning my little friends

I’m writing to you again with another interesting story about animals.

My twins, Neni and Nat asked me loads of questions when I told them this story. This is because this animal is a star in one of their favourite cartoons! I’m sure you are ready to guess today’s animal, if not here are some more clues.

It has fur and a long tail. It stares a lot with bold eyes in green, blue or brown that glow in the dark. It is very intelligent and very sturdy. Some people think it is very lazy, but it can run very fast if it has to. It is sometimes called ‘sneaky’ because of how quietly it moves around, and how much it lurks in the dark watching you, but perhaps ‘shy’ is a better word for them. Can you guess which animal it is?

Yes, you guessed It is a cat!

Do you remember the cat from Tom & Jerry? That is Neni & Nat’s favourite cartoon series! Did you know cats belong to the same family as lions, cheetahs, tigers and leopards? This cat family is called ‘Felidae’. Isn’t it so interesting that lions, cheetahs and tigers are found in the jungle, but cats can be found in homes with us? The cats found in the jungle are almost 10 times the size of a cat you would see in a home. They are fast, fend for themselves, kings of the jungle and very intelligent. I am sure you have seen these wild cats in the zoo in your area.

Cats which are kept inside homes are called ‘domesticated’ cats. These are pets to you and your family. There are also stray cats which may not have a family they live with, but can approach you for food or sneakily take it out of your trash can! Let’s share some physical defining features of a domesticated pet cat.

1. They are usually slender which helps them squeeze under and into the tiniest of spaces. You could hide a piece of fish in a tiny hole and a cat would find a way to get to it! 

2. Cats have whiskers; these are the long hairs on a cat’s cheeks right under its eyes, jaws and forelegs. Whiskers are very sensitive to touch; they help cats to see in the dark and to stay away from hungry predators.

3. Cats move very quietly, rarely ever will you hear a cat announcing itself when entering or leaving a room.

4. They also have a long tail which sways from side to side when they walk. Their tails help them to balance and it is painful for them when this tail is stepped on so you must take extra care not to. If a cat’s tail is standing up as they walk, it usually means that they are happy!

5. Cats are covered in hair/ fur, which keeps them hot or cold and protects them from injuries.

6. Cats usually have five clawed digits on each front paw and four on each of the rear paws. They walk on all four paws; just like I told you about dogs. The claws come out of their front toes and can hold prey and are a good grip for climbing. Domesticated cats usually need to have their claws trimmed or else they could scratch you at home, and we wouldn’t want that!

7. Did you know cats are natural climbers? They can scale a wall or even a tree! They cannot descend head first when they climb though, so descending is always a lot more work for them.

Now I know you can identify a cat when you see one and can tell what every body part is for! Caring for a cat is good fun! They need food, attention and lots of love too. Each cat is different and so some may need more attention than others. Cats are not the most sociable of animals and need time to retreat and doze. An easy way to get them out of their hiding places is with food! Cats have their special food but have a soft spot for any type of fish. Remember to feed your cat in a special bowl and always leave a full bowl of water for it to drink.

If you ever have to think of clean animals, cats should definitely be on your list. They lick themselves constantly throughout the day and use their forepaws to give them a good scrub. They also lick themselves when it is very hot because their saliva cools them down. They spend so much time licking themselves that some would say a cat is a glamorous animal, as it spends so much time on its cleanliness! Cats’ fur needs to be brushed regularly but a bath is not needed as frequently as we shower.

Caring for a cat is a lifetime opportunity because they live quite long. They can live over 20 years, I’m sure that is older than a lot of the readers of this story! They are good companions and always remember their way home even when they stray. Some essentials to care for a cat are a name collar so everyone knows it’s your cat when they go on a stroll, nail clippers to cut your cats’ claws, a warm cosy bed, a food dish, water bowl and a few toys. Just like you, cats need their toys to play with and keep them occupied.

A part of your responsibility for keeping a cat is to make sure that they visit their special doctor called the veterinary. The veterinary will give your cat frequent vaccines and suggest how to make your cat live better. Vaccines protect against deadly diseases and viruses like rabies, panleukopenia (feline distemper), feline calicivirus and feline viral rhinotracheitis. Cats should start their vaccines when they are about 8 – 16 weeks old. This is when they are babies – baby cats are called kittens.

Cats are very intelligent creatures and very mischievous! They are always hiding shoes, nibbling at toys and furniture, playing hide and seek and sneaking up from behind to scare you.

They also love watching television on your lap while getting tickled. In fact, this sounds just like my twins! I hope you enjoyed learning all these new things about cats. I’ll be back again to tell you more about another animal soon! Take the quiz below to refresh everything you just learnt about cats!

Test For Kittens

Do cats need to be bathed every day?

Answer: No, they spend time self-cleaning by licking themselves.

Cats use their whiskers to hear in the dark. True/ False

Answer: False. They use them to see in the dark.

Cats have a soft spot for fish. True/ False

Answer: True

When cats climb, do they descend with their head or behind?

Answer: They descend with their behind.

Which animals in the jungle are cats in the same family with?

Answer: Wild Cats such as lions, leopards and cheetahs.

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