In ancient Egypt, cats were sacred animals, with the goddess Bast often depicted in cat form, sometimes taking on the war-like aspect of a lioness.:220 Killing a cat was absolutely forbidden and the Greek historian Herodotus reports that, whenever a household cat died, the entire family would mourn and shave their eyebrows. Families took their dead cats to the sacred city of Bubastis, where they were embalmed and buried in sacred repositories. The earliest unmistakable evidence of the Greeks having domestic cats comes from two coins from Magna Graecia dating to the mid-fifth century BC showing Iokastos and Phalanthos, the legendary founders of Rhegion and Taras respectively, playing with their pet cats.:57–58
About 250 heritable genetic disorders have been identified in cats, many similar to human inborn errors. The high level of similarity among the metabolism of mammals allows many of these feline diseases to be diagnosed using genetic tests that were originally developed for use in humans, as well as the use of cats as animal models in the study of the human diseases.
One of the first things you should do with your new cat, if not the very first, is take him in for an exam. This trip is almost as important for the owner as it is the kitten, because it not only tests for health issues like birth defects, parasites, and feline leukemia, but it allows you to ask those all important questions including advice on litterbox training your kitten.
Cats are similar in anatomy to the other felid species, with a strong flexible body, quick reflexes, sharp teeth and retractable claws adapted to killing small prey. They are predators who are most active at dawn and dusk (crepuscular). Cats can hear sounds too faint or too high in frequency for human ears, such as those made by mice and other small animals. Compared to humans, they see better in the dark (they see in near total darkness) and have a better sense of smell, but poorer color vision. Cats, despite being solitary hunters, are a social species. Cat communication includes the use of vocalizations including meowing, purring, trilling, hissing, growling and grunting as well as cat-specific body language. Cats also communicate by secreting and perceiving pheromones.