Felidae is the biological family of the cats; a member of this family is called a felid. Felids are the strictest carnivores of the sixteen mammal families in the order Carnivora. The most familiar felid is the domestic cat, which first became associated with humans about 10,000 years ago, but the family includes all other wild cats including the big cats.
Extant felids belong to one of two subfamilies: Pantherinae (which includes the Tiger, the Lion, the Jaguar, and the Leopard), and Felinae (which includes the Cougar, the Cheetah, the Serval, the Lynxes and Caracal, along with the Ocelot and Domestic Cat).
The first felids emerged during the Oligocene, about 25 million years ago. In prehistoric times, there was a third subfamily known as Machairodontinae, which included the "saber-toothed cats" such as the well known Smilodon. There were also other cat-like mammals, such as Thylacosmilus or the Nimravidae, which are not included in Felidae despite superficial similarities.
Full article ▸