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medium-sized African catcat,
name applied broadly to the carnivorous mammals constituting the family Felidae, and specifically to the domestic cat, Felis catus. The great roaring cats, the lion, tiger, and leopard are anatomically very similar to one another and constitute the genus
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, Leptailurus serval, found S of the Sahara in scrub country close to water. The serval is lightly built with very long legs; it has a small head with large eyes and ears, set on a long neck. Its coat is yellow-orange with black spots. The head and body are about 3 ft (91 cm) long and the ringed tail about 12 in. (30 cm) long. The serval is among the swiftest and most agile of cats and catches birds flying as much as 6 ft (1.8 m) from the ground. It also hunts insects, lizards, rodents, hares, and small antelopes. It is classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Felidae.



(Felis serval), a predatory mammal of the family Feli-dae. The body length reaches 1 m, the tail length 30 cm, and the height at the shoulders 50 cm. The animals weigh up to 16 kg. The serval is a long-legged, large-eared cat of slender build. The coloration is yellowish gray with brown or black spots and stripes. The serval is widely distributed in Africa, where it lives mainly on grassy and shrubby plains. It hunts principally at night for birds, rodents, hares, and young antelope. In the southern part of its range the cat gives birth to one to four young at winter’s end; in the tropics litters are produced at various times of the year. The serval is commercially valued for its skin, which is used in the manufacture of fur articles. The species is decreasing sharply in number.


a slender feline mammal, Felis serval, of the African bush, having an orange-brown coat with black spots, large ears, and long legs
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