A Scientific Name for Cat Breeds and Wild Cat Species

Taxonomy is the name given to dividing life here on earth into compartments. It also gives you the scientific name for cat, dog or any other species. To do this, millions of diverse living things are catergorised into a number of levels: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species. To imagine this, visualise a family tree, starting at the top with the Kingdoms and finishing with the lower branches at the Species level.

How does this work in relation to a Siamese cat scientific name, not to mention those of all our domestic house cats?

Kingdom: This is divided into five and cats belong in Animalia - yes, the animal kingdom! The others are Fungi, Monera, Plantae and Protista.

Phylum: Chordata for the cats because they have backbones.

Class: Mammalia for the entire cat family, including of course Siamese cats (Aves are birds, Reptilia is self-explanatory, and there are many other classes for other animals).

Order: Carnivora (yum! come here little mousie)

Family: Felidae (hint: the word feline comes from this family).

Genus: Felis for your house cat scientific name and approximately 30 other small wild cats or just five in a more modern listing. What about the bigger wild cats? Genus Panthera is the one to which lions, tigers, jaguar, snow leopard and leopard belong . The clouded leopard belongs to Neofelis, and the cheetah to Acinonyx. However since 1996 this Felis group has been reduced to just six including our pet cats. The scientists are always changing the classifications as new information is discovered.

Species: Cat family species names are a bit debatable, but either catus or domesticus is where all domecticated cats belong, whether pure breeds or feral cats.

Why do I say debatable? Because this system was really designed for 'wild' animals, not domesticated ones, but to keep the system working, most people give cats one of the two designations.

So what really makes up a house cat scientific name? Whether it is a Siamese cat, house cat, alley cat, moggie, domestic longhair, domestic shorthair, barn cat mongrel, or mutt cat the answer is the same: Animalia, Chordata, Mammalia, Carnivora, Felidae, Felis, and either catus or domesticus! Aren't you glad you asked?

What is the point of classification?

Many reasons, but imagine trying to find something on the internet without Google and Yahoo to put good content in front of you that is relevant. Behind the scenes they have classified the web content into related areas, and the same is true for scientists. These classifications are not set in stone since the system evolved in the 1700s and genetic advances have naturally called into question some of the assumptions.

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