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76–79 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Kitten

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Cat History: The Origin of the Species

Cats have been involved with human society for almost 4,000 years. But the history of the cat goes back much farther than that.

The earliest known feline, Proailurus (“early cat”), a bobcat-sized creature that weighed about 20 pounds, roamed Eurasia and Africa more than 34 million years ago.

Proailurus was very similar in its basic construction to the cats sharing our homes today. The evolution from that earliest form consisted primarily of fine-tuning the cat's already-present keen vision, flexible spine, retractable claws, and powerful jaws with teeth designed for eating meat.

One branch of prehistoric cat species ended with the saber-toothed tiger, about 10,000 years ago. From the other branch came all our modern-day cats, including the big cats--panthers, lions, tigers, leopards, and cheetahs--as well as the smaller wild species such as ocelots, bobcats, and lynxes.

The most likely direct ancestor of the domestic cat is the African wildcat (Felis lybica), a desert species found in Africa and Arabia. Eventually as cats migrated (sometimes in the company of people) from Africa and the Middle East, they interbred with the European wildcat, Felis sylvestris, to create Felis catus, the species we know today as the house cat.

Advice from Other Cat Owners 

Before You Adopt That Kitten

Before you bring that cute kitten home, please take a good look at your life and ask yourself some questions, particularly if you are young (the highest demographic for pet surrenderers is females, age 18-25).

Remember, cats live for 15-20 years and will need regular vet care for their whole life. Ask yourself, what will I do when I move? Am I willing to go the extra mile to find pet-friendly housing and take the cats along? (Even if your job sends you across the country or into another).

What will I do when I get married? What if my spouse is allergic to the cats, has big unfriendly dogs, or just doesn't like cats? How will I deal with that? What happens when I start having children? Will I be willing to help the cats make that transition during that busy and exciting time in my life? Will I be willing to keep them seperate if my baby is allergic? What happens if I get divorced? (Statistics say that you will). Will I fight to keep my pets during this personal crisis?

These questions may sound ridiculous, but I assure you they are not. The answers to these questions mean the difference between life and death every day- to the tune of 20 million 'No' answers a year (the number of animals surrendered to shelters across the U.S. in a year). It is a big commitment folks, think about it!

~Alex K., owner of Breed Unknown

Introducing Your New Kitten to Your Older Cat

Kittens will most likely get along great because they are so young, although it may take a day or two. My two cats were about 10 months when I brought home two kittens and it didn't go smoothly at all. The young kittens were excited to meet the older cats but the older cats were petrified of them.

What I learned is that cats react to smell and it's best to introduce them that way first. The advice from a cat expert was: keep them separate and give them each something that smells of the other one (towel/blanket etc). Once that goes well, then introduce them physically. It was fascinating because when I presented my cats with the towel smelling like the new kittens, the cats hissed and swatted at it, then ran in fear. Eventually they started to investigate it. You may not need this step but I wanted to share it just in case.

~Cindy W., owner of Breed Unknown

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