From 22 March 2023 to 7 January 2024
Felines are exceptional predators, mammals that are equally feared and revered… They are one of the most frequently depicted animal families, yet what do you really know about them? Be prepared for a few surprises when you discover the 38 species of feline that populate the planet.
Felines are one of the families of mammals most frequently portrayed in books and films, as well as one of the most dreaded and loved. Think you know all about cats? You’ll be astonished by these animals’ fascinating characteristics!
There are 38 feline species on Earth. Apart from the domestic cat, the best known are the big cats such as the lion, tiger and leopard. Yet there is a huge diversity of feline species, including the more “discreet” and often smaller species, such as the fishing cat, the flat-headed cat and the kodkod.
Felines, vulnerable predators
When we think of cats, we tend think of hunter and prey. This exhibition takes a new look at the exceptional qualities of these predators, from their highly developed senses of hearing, sight and touch, and their powerful jaws and claws, to their speed and agility.
Despite their many attributes, these mammals are no less vulnerable. Find out about the host of dangers threatening the sometimes difficult lives of cats, including unsuccessful hunts, high levels of infant mortality, road accidents and of course illegal trading and trafficking.
As well as felines, the Parc Zoologique de Paris (Paris Zoological Park), another of the Museum’s flagship sites, plays host throughout the year to many different species of predators such as birds, insects, small mammals, snakes, lizards, etc.
An exceptional programme in spring 2023 sheds light on these misunderstood predators. It’s the opportunity to show that the predator may not always be who you think it is.
Felines and humans
The relationship between humans and felines is manifest in cultures around the world and across time.
Explore these complex relationships in the form of cultural and symbolic objects from the collections of the Muséum, the Louvre, the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, the Musée de l’Armée and the Musée Guimet.
Wild feline, domestic feline
Once captured by the rich and powerful to demonstrate their superiority, keeping wild cats in captivity remains in vogue today, especially on social networks.
Trafficking and illegal trade are the consequences of such practices. Humans have long sought to domesticate felines. Trace back the earliest evidence of cat domestication to the tomb of a young man and the cat buried opposite him, 9,000 years ago in Cyprus, long before the familiar representations from Egypt.
The iconic domestic cat
Cats, the only domesticated felines, fascinate humans.
Long disliked in France, the cat was rehabilitated from the 19th century onwards by artists and intellectuals. Nowadays, they are one of the most common and popular animals in our homes.
Discover the ambivalent relationship between humans and cats over time, as well as the real or imagined threats that this animal poses to other species.