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Cat Scientific Classification

The domestic cat was named Felis catus by Carolus Linnaeus in his Systema Naturae of 1758. Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber named the wild cat Felis silvestris in 1775. The domestic cat is now considered a subspecies of the wild cat: by the strict rule of priority of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature the name for the species thus ought to be F. catus since Linnaeus published first. However, in practice almost all biologists use F. silvestris for the wild species, using F. catus only for the domesticated form.

In opinion 2027 (published in Volume 60, Part 1 of the Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature, 31 March 2003 [20]) the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature "conserved the usage of 17 specific names based on wild species, which are predated by or contemporary with those based on domestic forms", thus confirming F. silvestris for the wild cat and F. silvestris catus for its domesticated subspecies. (F. catus is still valid if the domestic form is considered a separate species.)

Johann Christian Polycarp Erxleben named the domestic cat Felis domesticus in his Anfangsgründe der Naturlehre and Systema regni animalis of 1777. This name, and its variants Felis catus domesticus and Felis silvestris domesticus, are often seen, but they are not valid scientific names under the rules of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature.
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