I read that >>In spoken Russian, "это" and "эта" are pronounced the same because the unstressed A and O are pronounced almost identical. So, you should pay attention to a slight pause after "это" to figure out the difference in meaning. You should make a pause after "это" but not after "эта".<<
Is this true?
What you read is correct, the pronunciation of это and эта is the same because the stress falls on the first vowel. So, it's actually because of context that we can distinguish the difference. There are also two different meanings to the word это as well. The slight pause you referred to would be more common after one of those meanings of это. For more info on all of this, check out this helpful guide. https://www.duolingo.com/comment/11536858
I agree on this with you.
As the guide recommends i tried to use "it" instead of "this/the" since i was not sure:
"It cat eats" makes no sense and if "The cat eats" was meant then it would be definetly Это.
So the logical conclusion is that "This cat eats." is the correct answer. Since it took that for a correct answer i decide to ignore the "another translation would be: ...."
Please correct me if i am wrong at this.
There is a really helpful explanation here: http://ask.masterrussian.com/143/whats-the-difference-between-%D1%8D%D1%82%D0%B0-and-%D1%8D%D1%82%D0%BE
No. Кошка ест = "the cat eats/is eating"
I find it very irritating that Duo insists that эта кошка = "This cat", but doesn't explain the very odd English sentences that result from that translation.
"This cat is eating" - a weird sentence, one that you probably would never encounter your entire lifetime in an English-speaking country.
ест is the (present tense) 3rd person singular conjugation of the verb "to eat". Он ест "He eats"; Дима ест "Dima eats"; мама ест "Mom is eating".
есть as we have experienced it here means "exists" = "there is": у меня есть яблоко literally means "By/near me exists (there is) an apple", which is idiomatically changed to more common English "I have an apple".
Of course, there is something about these two words which can trip you up: The verb infinitive "to eat" in Russian is есть - the exact same spelling as the word for "exists". The only way to tell the difference is by context, which fortunately is very clear. у меня есть would never be understood to mean "by me to eat". The chance for confusing the two is very slim, if it exists at all, except when looking at the two words out of context.
The best way to learn the Cyrillic letters is to learn how to print them by hand (with pen and paper) and then write out some of the exercises as you encounter them. Don't try to learn Russian cursive. There are quite a few good videos on the Russian alphabet. It's something you can do more effectively by yourself.