The Wild World of Big Cats
Wildcats All Over the World Share Similar Characteristics
by Isabel Smith, age 12
Wildcats are large animals such as lions, leopards, or tigers. Some wildcats live alone, and some live in groups. Although there are many types of wildcats, they all share certain qualities. One thing all wildcats have in common is their strong senses.
Cats have great senses. At night, they can see four times better than humans because of a layer in the back of their eyes that reflects light. Cats also have good hearing. Their flexible ears allow them to follow sound, and they can turn them towards any sound they hear because of muscles in their ears.
Cats have very sensitive whiskers, which they can use for hunting at night. Their whiskers brush up against ferns or other surroundings, allowing them to move about easily.
Some wildcats, like lions, live in groups called prides, but that is not the case for all wildcats. Wildcats that live alone have to mark their territory to protect it from invaders. There are two ways of doing this. The first way is to spray urine on the bushes and trees in the area they inhabit. The second way is to rub themselves against trees. This works because they have glands in their body that make a scent. They spread their scent around their bodies when they wash themselves. This is why pet cats rub themselves against your legs—so it is clear to other cats that you belong to them.
Cats use their sense of smell to sniff their food to check if it is poisonous. They also sniff their territory to check for trespassers. If invaders intrude, cats growl to scare them away, instead of attacking.
Using all of their senses together allows wildcats to be fierce hunters, even at night, when they usually hunt.
[Source: 100 Things You Should Know About Wildcats]