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Cats have been known to extirpate a bird species within specific regions and may have contributed to the extinction of isolated island populations.

and include lions, tigers, cougars and many others. Two main theories are given about how cats were domesticated.

Within this family, domestic cats (Felis catus) are part of the genus Felis, which is a group of small cats containing about seven species (depending upon classification scheme). In one, people deliberately tamed cats in a process of artificial selection as they were useful predators of vermin.

Members of the genus are found worldwide and include the jungle cat (Felis chaus) of southeast Asia, European wildcat (F. This has been criticized as implausible, because the reward for such an effort may have been too little; cats generally do not carry out commands and although they do eat rodents, other species such as ferrets or terriers may be better at controlling these pests.

The alternative idea is that cats were simply tolerated by people and gradually diverged from their wild relatives through natural selection, as they adapted to hunting the vermin found around humans in towns and villages. An alternative word with cognates in many languages is English 'puss' ('pussycat').

Cats are often valued by humans for companionship and for their ability to hunt vermin.

There are more than 70 cat breeds; different associations proclaim different numbers according to their standards.

Cats are similar in anatomy to the other felids, with a strong, flexible body, quick reflexes, sharp retractable claws, and teeth adapted to killing small prey.

Cat senses fit a crepuscular and predatory ecological niche.

Cats can hear sounds too faint or too high in frequency for human ears, such as those made by mice and other small animals. Like most other mammals, cats have poorer color vision and a better sense of smell than humans.

Cats, despite being solitary hunters, are a social species and cat communication includes the use of a variety of vocalizations (mewing, purring, trilling, hissing, growling, and grunting), as well as cat pheromones and types of cat-specific body language. Under controlled breeding, they can be bred and shown as registered pedigree pets, a hobby known as cat fancy.

Failure to control the breeding of pet cats by neutering and the abandonment of former household pets has resulted in large numbers of feral cats worldwide, requiring population control.

This has contributed, along with habitat destruction and other factors, to the extinction of many bird species.