Cats in the United States

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The California Spangled is a breed of domestic cat that was bred in the United States to resemble spotted wild cats, like the ocelot and leopard.

Many different species of mammal can be classified as cats (felids) in the United States. These include domestic cat (both house cats and feral), of the species Felis catus; medium-sized wild cats from the genus Lynx; and big cats from the genera Puma and Panthera. Domestic cats vastly outnumber wild cats in the United States.

Prehistoric cats[edit]

At least 67 species of sabertoothed cats existed in North America between 42 million and 11 thousand years ago before going extinct. Their disappearance can be attributed to both the changing climate at the end of the Ice Age and the appearance of humans in the Americas.[1]

Some prehistoric animals referred to as "saber-toothed cats" were in fact marsupials and not cats at all, but called such because of their resemblance to true felines with large canine teeth.

Big cats[edit]

Two main species of big cat currently inhabit the United States. One is the jaguar (Panthera onca), which is related to many species of big cat found on other continents and can be found in the southwestern US and as far south as northern Argentina. The other, the cougar (Puma concolor), which is also known as the puma or mountain lion, is more closely related to the domesticated cat than the Lion and can be found all over South America, Mexico, the western half of the US including Florida, and southwestern Canada.

Wild cats[edit]

A bobcat on the Calero Creek Trail, in San Jose, California.

Three mammal species in the United States are referred to as "wild cats" (ocelot, the Canadian lynx, and the bobcat). However, they do not belong to Felis, the genus of the wildcat proper and the domestic cat. The ocelot is in the genus Leopardus while the lynx and bobcat are in the genus Lynx. A smaller cat, Jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi), from Central and South America occurs near the lower Rio Grande Valley in the southern tip of Texas.

Domestic cats[edit]

The domestic cat, Felis catus or F. silvestris catus, is a popular pet, with an estimated 93.5 million cats kept as pets; about one third of all households in the United States keeping at least one. Eighty-seven percent of owned cats are spayed or neutered[2]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not require a certificate of health for cats brought into the United States, but cats are subject to inspection at ports of entry and may be denied entry. Cats must be quarantined regardless of place of origin when brought into Hawaii and Guam.[3]


Various organizations using the term Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and in United States all organizations using the name SPCA are independent; there is no umbrella organization. Some of the more notable organizations include:

The National Cat Groomers Institute of America is an organization devoted to training and certifying people in the grooming of cats. Headquartered in Greenville, South Carolina, it was founded in 2007 by Danelle German, the organization's current president.

Cats Indoors! is a public education campaign by American Bird Conservancy and supported by the National Audubon Society and other conservation organizations to encourage control of cats in order to protect birds from predation by cats. The objective of the conservancy's campaign is that all domestic cats should be kept safely indoors.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ward, Peter (1997). The Call of Distant Mammoths: Why The Ice Age Disappeared. New York: Springer-Verlag New York. ISBN 0-387-94915-1.
  2. ^ "U.S. Pet Ownership Statistics". The Humane Society of the United States. 30 December 2009. Retrieved 16 July 2011.
  3. ^ "Bringing an Animal into U.S.: Cats - Animal Importation". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 29 January 2010. Retrieved 16 July 2011.
  4. ^ Gorman, James (18 March 2003). "Bird Lovers Hope to Keep Cats on a Very Short Leash". New York Times. Retrieved 10 July 2008.

Further reading[edit]

  • Loyd, Kerrie Anne T.; Sonia M. Hernandez (2012). "Public Perceptions of Domestic Cats and Preferences for Feral Cat Management in the Southeastern United States". Anthrozoös: A Multidisciplinary Journal of the Interactions of People and Animals. 25 (3): 337–351. doi:10.2752/175303712X13403555186299. ISSN 0892-7936.

External links[edit]