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Feral cats are associated with human habitation areas and may be fed by people or forage for food, but are typically wary of human interaction.

Cats have seven cervical vertebrae, as do almost all mammals; 13 thoracic vertebrae (humans have 12); seven lumbar vertebrae (humans have five); three sacral vertebrae like most mammals (humans have five); and a variable number of caudal vertebrae in the tail (humans retain three to five caudal vertebrae, fused into an internal coccyx).

The premolar and first molar together compose the carnassial pair on each side of the mouth, which efficiently shears meat into small pieces, like a pair of scissors.

when kept as indoor pets or simply cats when there is no need to distinguish them from other felids and felines.

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

There are more than seventy cat breeds recognized by various cat registries.

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.

Similar forms exist in Lithuanian puižė and Irish puisín or puiscín.

The etymology of this word is unknown, but it may have simply arisen from a sound used to attract a cat.

Huehnergard opines it is "equally likely that the forms might derive from an ancient Germanic word, imported into Latin and thence to Greek and to Syriac and Arabic".

Guus Kroonen also considers the word to be native to Germanic (due to morphological alternations) and Northern Europe, and suggests that it might ultimately be borrowed from Uralic, cf.

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.

While the African wildcat is the ancestral subspecies from which domestic cats are descended, and wildcats and domestic cats can completely interbreed (being subspecies of the same species), several intermediate stages occur between domestic pet and pedigree cats on one hand and entirely wild animals on the other.