Do I understand it right that even though जानवर is masculine, it is छोटी because बिल्ली is feminine?
I'm wondering about this too. Since small is modifying the word animal shouldn't it be बिल्ली एक छोटा जानवर है।?
I have 3 questions about this sentence:
1) As already mentioned by other learners, why is it छोटी as जानवर is masculine?
2) Is it normal that the एक is so hard to hear?
3) Why है, not होती है?
For question 2 I think एक is a bit harder to hear because it is preceded by बिल्ली and the ई at the end of बिल्ली and the ए at the beginning of एक sort of coalesce to the ears of a non-native speaker a bit. That's just my guess. I hear the एक just fine. For question 3 One could say बिल्ली एक छोटी (I feel like this really should be छोटा) जानवर होती है। But this would be a generalized statement in the singular and would better be translated as "a cat is a small animal" as opposed to "बिल्ली एक छोटी जानवर है।" Which would be better translated as "The cat (a specific one) is a small animal". Generally there is probably some usage overlap here too.
I really wish we could get an answer about this whole छोटी जानवर vs छोटा जानवर confusions with this sentence.
As far I can hear, the speaker omits the "ek"; for good reasons, I suppose.
If this were a generalized statement it would more properly be बिल्ली एक छोटी जानवर होती है। A cat is a small animal, as opposed to बिल्ली एक छोटी जानवर है The cat is a small animal. The होती है makes it a generalized statement in the singular, whereas है is a direct statement in the singular.