Is Your Cat a Carnivore, Omnivore or Herbivore? The Answer May Surprise You


Animal classification refers to the way scientists categorize organisms into groups based on shared characteristics. Classification provides a systematic way to study the diversity of life on Earth. By grouping animals with similar traits, scientists can better understand evolutionary relationships and patterns.

Animal classification follows a hierarchical structure, ranking organisms from most general to most specific. There are eight main levels of classification, from kingdom down to species. The basic levels are: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. Each level consists of groups that share common traits inherited from a common ancestor.

Classification allows researchers to identify new species and build an evolutionary “family tree of life.” It also enables effective communication about different animal species. Overall, classification provides a framework for studying the great diversity in the animal kingdom.


Cats belong to the kingdom Animalia, which includes all multicellular eukaryotic organisms that are heterotrophic and motile (with some exceptions). The kingdom Animalia contains a wide variety of organisms including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, spiders, and more. Cats are classified in the kingdom Animalia because they are multicellular organisms that consume organic matter for sustenance.

According to Biology Project cards Flashcards, cats belong to the kingdom Animalia along with dogs, pandas, and humans The kingdom Animalia contains complex organisms with specialized tissues and organ systems. As mammals, cats share key characteristics with other organisms in this kingdom such as being motile, reproducing sexually, and having a developed nervous system.


Cats belong to the phylum Chordata, which includes all vertebrate animals. The key characteristic of Chordata is that members have a notochord, a flexible rod that runs the length of the body, providing structure and support. In vertebrates like cats, the notochord eventually develops into the vertebral column or backbone. Other notable features of the phylum include a dorsal hollow nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, and a muscular tail that extends beyond the anus at some point during development. Mammals like cats have adapted these basic chordate features in various ways over the course of evolution.



The class that cats belong to is Mammalia This class contains mammals, which are vertebrate animals characterized by the possession of hair or fur, the secretion of milk by females for the nourishment of the young, and (typically) the birth of live young.

All cats are mammals because they have specialized teeth, three middle ear bones, mammary glands in females that produce milk to feed their young, a neocortex region in their brain, endothermic bodies that can regulate internal temperature, fur covering their skin, and vertebrae. Some of the key features that distinguish mammals from other animal classes include:

  • Hair or fur
  • Milk production in females
  • Live birth (viviparous reproduction)
  • Specialized teeth
  • Three middle ear bones
  • Neocortex region of the brain
  • Endothermy (warm-blooded)

There are around 6,400 known species within Mammalia. This diverse class includes humans and other primates, cats, dogs, whales, bats, rodents, and more. Cats are members of the felidae family within this mammalian class.


Cats belong to the order Carnivora, which includes mammals that primarily eat meat. The order Carnivora includes animals such as cats, dogs, bears, raccoons, weasels, hyenas, seals and walruses. According to Biology Chapter 15-2 Flashcards on Quizlet, cats belong to the family Felidae and are placed in the order Carnivora along with dogs, which belong to the family Canidae.


Cats belong to the family Felidae. The Felidae family consists of cats both large and small. The family is divided into two subfamilies: Pantherinae, which includes lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, and cougars, and Felinae, which includes domestic cats and wildcats.

All members of the Felidae family share common traits like retractable claws, acute hearing and sense of smell, specialized teeth for eating meat, lithe bodies, flexible spines, and distinctive facial whiskers. There are around 41 species across the Felidae family.

Cats were one of the first animals domesticated, with archaeological evidence of domestication dating back approximately 9,500 years ago in the Near East. Over time, domesticated cats diverged into distinct breeds with varying characteristics while still remaining part of the Felidae family.



The genus for cats is Felis. This classification was first described by Carl Linnaeus in his seminal work Systema Naturae in 1758. Linnaeus placed all cats into a single genus Felis under the family Felidae. This includes not only domestic cats but also larger wild cats like lions, tigers, leopards, etc. The word “feline” itself comes from the Latin “felis” meaning cat.

Over the years, taxonomists have further divided the Felis genus into several subgroups. The domestic cat for example falls under Felis silvestris. But Felis continues to be universally recognized as the overarching genus name for all cats both big and small. When we talk about the “felines of the world,” we’re referring to members of the Felis genus.

So in summary, cats belong to the genus Felis which sits under the larger family classification of Felidae. This genus encompasses all cats and provides us with the root word “feline” to describe cat-like traits and characteristics.


The most common species of domestic cat is Felis catus. This species includes all domestic cat breeds and originated from wildcats native to Africa, Europe, and Southwestern Asia. Felis catus is believed to have been domesticated by ancient Egyptians over 4,000 years ago and were later introduced around the world by explorers and colonists. They are now found on every continent except Antarctica.

There are 4 main small cat species that are closely related to Felis catus:

  • African wildcat – Felis lybica
  • European wildcat – Felis silvestris silvestris
  • Asiatic wildcat – Felis silvestris ornata
  • Black-footed cat – Felis nigripes

These small wild cats are the ancestors of our domestic cats today. Through domestication and selective breeding over thousands of years, Felis catus emerged as a distinct species well-adapted to live closely with humans.


There are over 70 recognized cat breeds in the world. Some of the most popular include:

  • Siamese – One of the oldest and most recognized breeds, known for their cream colored coats and blue almond-shaped eyes.
  • Persian – A long-haired breed characterized by their flat face and calm, sweet personality.
  • Maine Coon – The largest domesticated cat breed, known for their loving personalities and plush, water-resistant coats.
  • Ragdoll – A large, laidback breed with blue eyes and a distinct colorpoint coat.
  • Sphynx – A hairless breed known for their extroverted personalities and wrinkled skin.
  • British Shorthair – A rounded, muscular breed with a dense coat and easygoing attitude.
  • Bengal – An active, spotted breed bred from hybrids of domestic cats and Asian leopard cats.

There are many other popular pedigreed breeds as well, from the active Abyssinian to the affectionate Norwegian Forest Cat. Cat breeds exhibit a diverse range of coat lengths, patterns, colors and personalities.


In summary, cats are classified in the kingdom Animalia, phylum Chordata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Felidae, genus Felis, and species F. catus. Their classification helps organize the diversity of life and reveals their evolutionary relationships. Understanding how cats relate to other organisms allows us to better study their biology, behavior, diseases, etc.

Animal classification is important because it enables effective communication about organisms and aids in comparative biology. By categorizing animals based on shared characteristics, scientists can identify evolutionary patterns and make predictions about unknown species traits. Proper classification also prevents confusion and ambiguity when referring to animals in research, conservation, and other contexts.

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