Synopsis of "What Is a Cat" by Bobbie Kalman

by Valerie Taylor
Mountain lions belong in the cat species.

Mountain lions belong in the cat species.

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Author Bobbie Kalman has written a number of children's books in the "Science of Living Things" series. Her 2003 title, "What is a Cat?" describes the different types of wild and domestic cats, including their physical characteristics, behavior and habitats. The book includes a glossary to familiarize young readers with the scientific terminology that describes these well-known creatures.


Perfect for general information or as a source for school research projects, "What is a Cat?" describes both wild and domestic cats. The first section describes what classifies a creature as a mammal and explains how cats fit into this category. A brief history of cats is followed by information about large cats, including tigers and cheetahs. Not all small cats are pets, though Kalman's book says there are more than 80 breeds of domestic cats.

Physical Features

"What is a Cat?" describes the different physical characteristics of cats, including their backbones, tails, sharp teeth, claws and the pads on their feet that help them to move quietly while stalking and hunting. Colorful illustrations and close-up photographs help describe the different senses cats use to survive. The book explains unique attributes that cats possess, including the special layer in their eyes that helps them to see at night and their whiskers, which help them to judge if their bodies can fit through an opening.

Chatty Cats

A section in the book describes the different sounds that cats use to communicate. While purring indicates that a cat is comfortable and content, yowls are sounds cats use to warn of aggression. The book also informs readers that cats use body language to communicate.


"What is a Cat?" describes the different environments in which cats live. While leopards and jaguars live in the forest, other cats, including lions, are found in grasslands. Caracals are desert cats, while cougars or pumas generally live in mountainous regions. The book includes a number of photographs that illustrate what each cat looks like.

Fascinating Facts

This fun section gives interesting facts about cats that many readers may find surprising. For example, lightweight bones allow cheetahs to reach running speeds up to 60 miles an hour.

Endangered Cats

Information about endangered cats completes this informative book. This section raises concerns about habitat loss for cats and other wild animals. Suggestions about how readers can help are included.


  • "What is a Cat?"; Bobbie Kalman; 2003

About the Author

Valerie Taylor holds a master's degree in ancient history and a bachelor's degree in education and literature. She coauthored an article on Spartan religion for the "Journal of Sparta" in 2010 and has written numerous, history-related articles for Internet publication. Taylor enjoys hiking, gardening and running half-marathons.

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