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A Guide to Cats


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Adaptations of Cats
A Guide to Cats
Photo © Steffen Foerster Photography

Some important adaptations of cats include retractable claws, acute eyesight, and agility.

Most cats have retractable claws. They extend their claws only when needed for capturing prey or for traction when running or climbing. When claws are not needed, the cats keep them hidden away, sharp and ready for use. Cheetahs are unable to retract their claws, and experts believe this is an adaptation to fast running (Grzimek 1988, 583).

Vision is cats' best developed sense. Felids have sharp eyesight and their eyes are positioned on the front of their head so they both facing forward to produce the optimal focusing ability and acute depth perception.

Cats have extremely flexible spines, enabling them to use more muscles when running and achieve faster speeds than other mammals. Since they use more muscles when running, cats burn more energy and therefore cannot maintain speed for extended periods of time without experiencing fatigue.


  • Fahey B, Myers P. 2000. Felidae. Animal Diversity Web.
  • Grzimek B. 1990. Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals, Volume 3. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Toriello K. 2002. Uncia uncia. Animal Diversity Web.
  • Turner A, Anton M. 1997. The Big Cats and Their Fossil Relatives. New York: Columbia University Press.
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