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Domestic Dogs
Cats (Felines)

Is it a dog or a cat?

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September 08, 2009 1:14PM

If it has four legs and fur, it could be either. If it purrs and meows, it is a cat. If it barks, it is a dog. In a little bit more detail: Animals of the dog family (Canidae) are found on every continent except Antarctica, and inhabit a wide range of different habitats. They vary in size from the Fennec Fox at 24 cm long, to the Gray Wolf, which may be up to 2 m long, and can weigh up to 80 kg. With the exceptions of the Bush Dog and Raccoon Dog, canids have relatively long legs and lithe bodies, adapted for chasing prey. All canids are digitigrade, meaning that they walk on their toes. They possess bushy tails, non-retractile claws, and a dewclaw on the front feet. Animals of the cat family (Felidae) are purely carinovorous animals, subsisting almost entirely on other vertebrates. Aside from the Lion, they are solitary. Feral domestic cats do, however, form feral cat colonies. They are generally secretive animals, are often nocturnal, and live in relatively inaccessible habitats. Around three-quarters of cat species live in forested terrain, and they are generally agile climbers. However, felids may be found in almost any environment. Wild felids are native to every continent except Australia and Antarctica. The various species of felid vary greatly in size. One of the smallest is the Black-footed Cat at between 35-40 cm in length, while the largest is the Siberian Tiger. Compared with many other mammals, they have relatively short faces, and good binocular vision. The fur of felids takes many different forms, being much thicker in those species that live in cold environments, such as the Snow Leopard. The colour of felids is also highly variable - although brown to golden fur is common in most species - often marked with distinctive spots, stripes, or rosettes. Many felid species also have a "tear stripe," a black stripe running from the corner of each eye down the side of the muzzle. The tongue of felids is covered with horny papillae, which help to rasp meat from their prey. Almost all felids have fully retractable claws(one exception is the Cheetah). Cats have five toes on their forefeet and four on their hindfeet, reflecting their reliance on gripping and holding down their prey with their claws.