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Cats + Characteristics

  • Cats are not completely color blind as they can see yellow and blue as well as shades of grey. Their eye structure does allow them to see better in dim light compared to people. Near-sightedness is common among cats.

  • With over 70 pure breeds and countless combinations of mixed breeds, there are lots of cats to choose from. That's a good thing, because cats are the #1 pet in the United States. Of course, all cats consider themselves number one!

  • There are multiple methods of inheritance including autosomal dominant, autosomal recessive and sex-linked inheritance that determine which characteristics (or phenotypes) are displayed by the offspring. There are also many polygenic traits (i.e., associated with multiple genes) as well as environmental factors that make prediction of disease or likelihood of passing disease onto offspring much more complicated.

  • Mutations are errors made during DNA replication. Mutations can be acquired as cells divide within the body or can be inherited if the parent’s DNA contains a mutation. Acquired mutations can arise spontaneously or can be triggered by external factors. Effects of mutation depend on what area of the DNA has been altered and can range from no effect to severe effects such as cancer development. Genetic markers can be used to determine genetic heritage such as breed origins.

  • Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a long molecule that contains an animal’s entire genetic code. DNA is primarily located within the nucleus of each cell. In the nucleus, enzymes transcribe the DNA bases into a substance called RNA (ribonucleic acid), which serves as a messenger, taking the DNA message out into the cytoplasm of the cell where the RNA is translated into proteins. These proteins are responsible for a number of functions in the cell and throughout the body, primarily by acting as enzymes that regulate various cell reactions. DNA tests allow us to examine an animal’s DNA in order to see whether they carry certain genetic diseases. DNA testing can also be used to determine the ancestry of an animal.

  • Ownerless cats may look the same, but there is a difference between stray and feral cats. A feral cat is born and lives in the wild with little or no human contact. A stray cat is a domestic cat that has been abandoned or has strayed from home and become lost. A stray cat may be presently homeless but was once a pet that lived with humans.

  • Cats are always going to lick but it is sometimes embarrassing when they lick their private parts. Licking after eliminating is normal; however, if your cat licks more frequently or you notice other signs such as discharge, swollen or red penis, vulva, or anus, pustules, discoloration of the skin, or you observe your cat straining to urinate, see your veterinarian for help. Appropriate medical therapy can reduce your cat’s discomfort.

  • Like us, cats are mammals that are covered with hair. But there are definite differences in the hair that covers our bodies. While we may have whiskers on our faces, they are nothing in comparison to kitty whiskers!