Source: Nature: "Extraordinary Cats"
Funding for the VITAL/Ready to Teach collection was secured through the United States Department of Education under the Ready to Teach Program.
This video segment from Nature describes cats as independent, mysterious and aloof. While they have been domesticated for more than four thousand years, they are still powerful predators and survivalists. Cats have a reputation for being uncontrollable and leading solitary lifestyles, yet they compete with dogs as the most popular pet in America. Cats live in thirty percent of American households; however, they still demonstrate characteristics of creatures of the wild. Their hunting habits, for example, parallel those of lions, cheetahs and tigers.
Science, animals, research
The following Frame, Focus and Follow-up suggestions are best suited for elementary or middle school students using this video in an English language arts or science lesson. Be sure to modify the questions to meet your students' instructional needs.
What is Frame, Focus and Follow-up?
Frame (ELA) What is your personal point of view about cats?
Focus (ELA) How does your personal point of view about cats compare or contrast with the facts about the cat family presented in the video?
Follow Up (ELA) Do the facts you learned about cats from the video influence your personal point of view about cats? Describe a situation in which learning new information about a topic or issue might change your personal point of view about it.
Frame (SCI) In what ways are all humans the same? How may they be different? Are these differences important?
Focus (SCI) In what ways are all cats the same? How may they be different?
Follow Up (SCI) There is unity among organisms even though they may look very different. Describe the unity that exists among the different members of the cat family. Is there evidence of common ancestry? Explain. Is it possible to make the same analogy or comparison for human beings? Why or why not?
Independent, aloof - often mysterious.
It has lived with people for some four thousand years. It’s one of the most familiar, yet least understood, animals on the planet.
Their beauty so captivates us that it’s easy to forget that they are one of nature’s most perfectly designed predators - the domestic cat.
Although they share our homes as pets, cats are often seen as anti-social, finicky, indifferent to our wishes - and practically uncontrollable.
With this reputation, it’s surprising that the cat is vying with the dog to become America’s number one pet.
Man’s traditional best friend is being upstaged by an animal that’s only a whisker away from its untamed ancestors.
The dog was the very first species domesticated by man. While the cat is the most recent.
By 12,000 years ago, the dog was already sharing the hearts and affection of early man. Like all other domestic animals, dogs are, by nature, social creatures. Their wild forebears lived in highly cooperative packs. Cats, though, had basically solitary lifestyles.
So while the dog’s wild heritage prepared it for our domination and control, the elusive nature of the cat has always kept it just beyond our reach.
And able to survive almost any situation.
It has adapted to all manner of life styles in every part of the globe.
Yet to many, it remains the world’s most inscrutable animal.
Although its a member of the cat’s spectacular family, the king of the beasts is not really an overgrown tabby. For one thing, male and female lions look very different.
Like all their kind - they are beautifully adapted predators. But lions are the only member of the cat family to live in large social groups, and they cooperate when hunting - a job that falls to the females of a pride. They depend on stealth to stalk their prey, but then dash across open ground to seize it with outstretched claws.
The kill is quick and clean - a bite at the nape of the neck severs the spinal cord. Our house cats execute the ‘coup de grace’ in exactly the same way.
The cheetah is the most dog-like of all the cats. It is the only cat to catch its prey by a speedy prolonged chase - its claws are not retractable, and it has only moderately sized canine teeth so it needs to choke its prey.
The leopard is a superb tree-climber and tremendously powerful for its size. This enables it to carry its prey out of reach of competitors.
People who wish to draw parallels between a big cat and their pet might do well to choose this one. The tiger is a solitary hunter whose behavior is fairly similar to our own tabby. Like all cats, they are specialists at blending in with their habitats. Yet they’re worlds apart.
Today in every corner of America, so familiar that you hardly notice them, you find domestic cats. Their popularity is at an all time high. Fifty-six million - live in 30% of American households. Cats have adapted to such a wide range of life styles that it is hard to find agreement even on their basic nature.
Are they dedicated, gentle, close companions...or just casual hangers on around our homes and lives?
Whatever our feelings they always seem in essence - creatures of the wild.
Academic standards correlations on Teachers' Domain use the Achievement Standards Network (ASN) database of state and national standards, provided to NSDL projects courtesy of JES & Co.
We assign reference terms to each statement within a standards document and to each media resource, and correlations are based upon matches of these terms for a given grade band. If a particular standards document of interest to you is not displayed yet, it most likely has not yet been processed by ASN or by Teachers' Domain. We will be adding social studies and arts correlations over the coming year, and also will be increasing the specificity of alignment.