"A cat is an animal."
Translation:Kot jest zwierzęciem.
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Essentially kot, to and zwierzeciem are all selectable in the tabs, while 'jest' is not. So when I chose "kot to zwierzeciem" from the list, I received an error which indicated that I should have selected 'jest', but 'jest is not available to me. Does that make sense or clear as mud? (difficult for me to include accents btw - hope that doesn't trip you up)
It seems that the exercises are not necessary created on the base of the 'basic sentence' (the one that was put by the course creators in the first place), but just one of the starred answers. And the starred answers are "Kot jest zwierzęciem" and "Kot to zwierzę". If you can create one of those, then everything is correct.
zwierzę, kot, pies - those are the basic, Nominative forms of those nouns. They're used mostly for the subject of the sentence.
zwierzęciem, kotem, psem - those are the Instrumental form. They're mostly used in sentences like "X is [an animal/a cat/a dog]".
For a sentence like this one, you have two options: either "Kot to zwierzę" ('to' + Nominative) or "Kot jest zwierzęciem" ('jest' + Instrumental). You can read more about it here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/16373167
Typos: It's "zwierzę" and "zwierzęciem" ;)
For a construction built as "[noun] is [noun]", you have two options: "[Nominative] to [Nominative]" ("Kot to zwierzę") and "[Nominative] jest [Instrumental]" ("Kot jest zwierzęciem"). They are both correct and generally mean the same. Personally I think that the construction with Instrumental is more elegant.
More info here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/16373167