Felis
Wildcat, Felis silvestris
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Felinae
Genus: Felis
Linnaeus, 1758
Species
Felis range

Felis is a genus of small cats in the family Felidae. They include the familiar domestic cat and its closest wild relatives. The wild species are found in Europe, southern and central Asia, and Africa. The domestic cat, which may have its origin in North Africa, is now worldwide.

Members of the genus Felis are all small felines, rather similar to the domestic cat. The smallest species is the sand cat, which may be less than 40 centimetres (16 in) in length, while the largest is the jungle cat, which can reach 94 centimetres (37 in). They live in many habitats: forests, grassland, swampland and deserts. They mostly feed on small rodents, supplementing their diet with birds and other small animals, depending on their local environment.

Genetic studies indicate that the genus Felis first evolved around eight to ten million years ago, probably in the Mediterranean region.

Species

The genus Felis is currently considered to consist of six living species, although the domestic cat and Chinese mountain cat are sometimes considered subspecies of F. silvestris.

  • Felis chaus (Schreber, 1777) – Jungle Cat
  • Felis margarita (Loche, 1858) – Sand Cat
  • Felis nigripes (Burchell, 1824) – Black-footed Cat
  • Felis silvestris (Schreber, 1775) – Wildcat
  • Felis catus (Linnaeus, 1758) – Domestic Cat (sometimes Felis silvestris catus)
  • Felis bieti (Milne-Edwards, 1892) – Chinese Mountain Cat
  • Felis attica (Wagner, 1857) – (extinct)
  • Felis lunensis (Martelli, 1906) – Martelli's Cat (extinct)

Other small cats

Small cats are those smaller than the cheetah. These are small cats classified under other genera than Felis:

Images


Felis for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.