Felix Could Be Wilder Than You ThinkAllison Espiritu
At times, you may find yourself saying, “My frisky feline is like a wild animal!” Believe it or not your, assumption is not far from the truth. Researchers have most recently discovered “the world’s biggest cat, the tiger, shares 95.6 percent of its DNA” with our domesticated cat companions.
It was about 10.8 million years ago that the tiger diverged from what we now see as domesticated cats. We have witnessed the domestic cat share similar primal instincts as their wilder counterparts however, they obviously come at different levels.
Since then recent research has shown that the only difference your home-tamed feline and big cats like tigers, snow leopards, and lions have between each other, is a genetic mutation that allows wild kitties to be bigger in size, allowing them to prey on bigger animals or to survive at high altitudes (snow leopards).
“In addition, several genes were altered in metabolic pathways associated with protein digestion and metabolism, or how the body uses fuel like food to power cells. Those changes, which evolved over tens of millions of years, likely enable the majestic felines to digest and rely solely on meat,” said Jong Bhak, a geneticist at the Personal Genomics Institute in South Korea.
“Big cats also have several mutations that make for powerful, fast-acting muscles — a necessity when chasing down prey.”
Currently most of these big cats are considered endangered. Only 3,050 to 3,950 tigers are believed to still be in the wild. Scientist hope to use this knowledge to “help conservation efforts by preventing closely related captive animals from breeding,” said Bhak.
If they’re right their findings may prevent these kings of the jungle from going extinct, all thanks to their close relation to Snowball.