Why Don't Domestic Cats Roar? Lions and Tigers Do!
All cats have certain characteristics that make them cats. In this article we will discuss - "Domestic house cats vocalization - or lack of a roar and cats purring". To do this we have to look at the entire cat family. Zoologist have developed an identification system of names where all plants and animals can be placed. The technical name of domestic cats belongs to the class Mammalia (mammals), the order Carnivora (meat-eaters), the family Felidae (cats), the genus Felis (lesser cats), and the species cattus (domestic cats): that's your cat, Felis cattus.
The lion and tiger are of the family:genus Felidae (cat): Panthera, (large or greater cats) and just to be complete, there are two other genus for cats, which are Acinonyx, the cheetahs and the Smilodon, the saber-toothed tigers, who we missed by only 12,000 years.
We will only be discussing the greater and lesser cats. The most obvious difference between the two genera is that greater cats can roar and the lesser cats cannot. The throat structure is what determines the ability to roar or not. The most significant factor is the hyoid bones (the small bones) that support the larynx. In the greater cats, these bones have been partially replaced by cartilage, allowing extraordinary flexibility of the throat and enabling the greater cat, lions and tigers, to roar. In the lesser cats, these bones are rigid eliminating the flexibility necessary to make the roaring sound; therefore the lesser cat, domestic cat, cannot roar. Contrast the deep-throated, deafening roar of a lion to the meow of the domestic cat, the meow even though much quieter, can relay the message the cat wants to get across. They are very persistent when hey want something.
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