11 Plus

Reading Comprehension Week 4 Q1


There are about 92 breeds of cat. Domestic cats are found in shorthair, longhair, and hairless breeds. Cats which are not specific breeds can be referred to as ‘domestic shorthair’ or ‘domestic longhair’.

The word ‘cat’ is also used for other felines. Felines are usually called either big cats or small cats. The big wild cats are well known: lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, pumas, and cheetahs. There are small wild cats in most parts of the world, such as the lynx in northern Europe.

In the past, particularly in Egypt, people kept domestic cats because they hunted and ate mice and rats. Today, people often keep cats as pets. There are also domestic cats which live without being cared for by people. These kinds of cats are called “feral cats” or “stray cats”.

The oldest evidence of cats kept as pets is from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, around 7500 BC. Ancient Egyptians worshipped cats as gods, and often mummified them so they could be with their owners “for all of eternity”.
Cats cannot taste sweet foods (with sugar) because of a mutation (change) in their ancestors which removed the ability to taste sweet things.

Cats have anatomy similar to the other members of the genus Felis. The genus has extra lumbar (lower back) and thoracic (chest) vertebrae. This helps to explain the cat’s spinal mobility and flexibility. Unlike human arms, cat forelimbs are attached to the shoulder by free-floating clavicle bones. These allow cats to pass their body through any space into which they can fit their heads.

The cat skull is unusual among mammals in having very large eye sockets and a powerful and specialized jaw. Cats, like dogs, walk directly on their toes, with the bones of their feet making up the lower part of the visible leg.Most cats have five claws on their front paws, and four on their rear paws.

Cats are active carnivores, meaning that in the wild they hunt live prey. Their main prey is small mammals (like mice). They will also stalk, and sometimes kill and eat, birds.

The basic cat coat colouring, tabby, gives it good camouflage in grass and woodland. The cat creeps towards a chosen victim, keeping its body flat and near to the ground so that it cannot be seen easily, until it is close enough for a rapid dash or pounce. Cats, especially kittens, practise these instinctive behaviours in play with each other or on small toys. Cats can fish. They use a flip-up movement of a front paw which, when successful, flips the fish out of water and over the cat’s shoulders onto the grass. Dutch research showed this to be an innate (inherited) behaviour pattern which developed early and without maternal teaching.

Text adapted from Wiki.Kidzsearch.com, which is in the public domain.

Question: ‘There are about 92 breeds of cat.’ (Line 1). Why do you think the writer has
used ‘about’ in this sentence?