The earliest known feline, Proailurus (“early cat”), a bobcat-sized creature that weighed about 20 pounds, roamed Eurasia and Africa more than 34 million years ago.
Proailurus was very similar in its basic construction to the cats sharing our homes today. The evolution from that earliest form consisted primarily of fine-tuning the cat's already-present keen vision, flexible spine, retractable claws, and powerful jaws with teeth designed for eating meat.
One branch of prehistoric cat species ended with the saber-toothed tiger, about 10,000 years ago. From the other branch came all our modern-day cats, including the big cats--panthers, lions, tigers, leopards, and cheetahs--as well as the smaller wild species such