The meerkat - Suricata suricatta, otherwise known as a suricate is a small mammal belonging to the mongoose family.

Is a meerkat a cat?
Dennis Avner.
However the domestic cat - Felis catus or Felis silvestris catus is a small usually furry, domesticated and carnivorous mammal. It is often called a house cat when kept as an indoor pet, or simply the cat when there is no need to distinguish it from other felids and felines.

Cats are valued by humans for companionship and their ability to hunt vermin and household pests. Of course this behaviour is unlike a meerkat, which is not related to a true cat except in that they are both mammals - like us. And humans aren't cats either, no matter how much surgery you can afford! And yes, I am looking straight at you Dennis Avner.

So, what is a meerkat

Meerkats are small burrowing mammals that belonging to the mongoose family. They live in the southern countries of Africa which is dominated by the Kalahari desert. The Kalahari has little rainfall and an arid climate with open plains. It is so large that it spreads over South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. Covering over one million square miles it is 10 times the size of Great Britain!

Is a meerkat a cat?
This land is covered by a porous or soft sand that in many places is found to be bright orange in colour. Meerkats like the soft sand when digging for food as it reduces the amount of energy they need to expel.

Conversely, they prefer compact sand to build their burrows with, which would collapse in softer sands.

Meerkats live in large underground networks with multiple entrances which they leave only during the day.

Meerkat groups utilize several different burrows and move from one to another throughout the day. Each burrow is an extensive tunnel-and-room system that remains cool even under the boiling African sun.

Is a meerkat a cat?
Meerkats are unusual but not unique in their behaviour as they display concern for the welfare of others within their colonies. One or more meerkats will stand sentry while while others are foraging or playing, so that they can warn them of approaching dangers. When a predator is spotted, the sentry meerkat will give a warning bark, and other members of the gang will run and hide in one of the many bolt holes spread across their territory.

The sentry meerkat is the first to reappear from the burrow and search for predators, constantly barking to keep the others underground. If there is no threat then the sentry meerkat will stop signalling and the others will feel safe enough to emerge.

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