Facts about Felines: 20 Interesting Cat Facts
While dogs may be considered “man’s best friend,” cats are actually more popular! In fact, approximately 94 million cats find their home in America. Shockingly, dogs lag behind at about 80 million. This may come as a surprise because cat lovers, like their feline friends, are less flamboyant than their dog-obsessed counterparts. In a world where nearly every golden retriever has his own Instagram, we tend to hear less about cats. So, in celebration of all things fantastically feline, we’ve crafted a list of unusual cat facts!
1. Only About 50% of Cats React to Catnip
Catnip, an herb, produces an oil known as Nepetalactone that stimulates your little fluff ball’s pheromone receptors. It acts as a stimulant and causes your cat to happily roll and flip around, meowing in pure bliss! However, a cat’s sensitivity to Catnip is determined by his genes. If your cat doesn’t inherit it, he won’t react to Catnip at all. Grab one of these Catnip infused toys and test it out for yourself!
2. Cats are Lactose Intolerant
Confirming what we already knew from Aristocats, milk is actually bad for cats - and not just the kind laced by greedy butlers. Cats are actually lactose intolerant. While well-meaning cat parents may give milk as a “treat,” it can actually cause stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. No fun for anyone!
3. Feral Cats Don't Suffer Outside
According to Alley Cat Allies, feral cats are actually safer outside in the wild rather than a shelter. A 2003 study showed that cats cared for via the Trap-Neuter-Return method lived healthy feral lives for longer than 6 years. So keeping leaving food out for the strays! But, stop trying to domesticate them - they prefer to roam wild and free. In fact, Disneyland is home to approximately 100 neutered feral cats that control the park’s rodent population!
4. Cats Love "Doggy-Doors"
Contrary to popular belief, pet doors can be a great option for your cat! Arguably invented by the brilliant Sir Isaac Newton, after he was continuously interrupted by cats clawing at his office door, pet doors offer freedom and confidence to your cat. When set in place with safety measures, your cat can enjoy the wonders of nature without you playing door police!
5. Clowder: A Group of Cats
If you thought a group of ravens being called a murder is weird - wait ‘til you hear what a group of cats is known as! In the 1700s, cats became known as a clotter, or clotted mass, for how closely they stuck together in the streets. Over the years, clodder became clowder. And, even though large families of wild cats are known as colonies, smaller groups are still referred to as a clowder.
6. Your Cat Sleeps Away 70% of his Life
Cats sleep between 16-20 hours a day, and are most active from dusk to dawn. This nocturnal behavior can be bothersome, but don’t worry! There are several ways to encourage your cat to sleep at night, rather than keeping you awake. For example, feeding him a large meal right before bed and providing plenty of playtime during the day makes a big difference.
7. When Cats aren't Sleeping, They're Grooming
Cats spend 30 to 50% of their waking hours cleaning themselves. Not only does this grooming behavior help to distribute your cat’s natural oils and maintain a nice coat, but it also aids in temperature regulation. During cold days, licking stimulates blood flow to keep warm. On sweltering days, evaporating saliva provides a cooling effect. As a relic of your cat’s wild ancestry, licking also helps to ward off danger! By grooming themselves, cats keep their fur free of odors that may attract predators.
8. Cats Can't Taste Sugar
Unlike dogs, cats tend to be rather picky eaters. While they’ll go wild for canned salmon - a disgusting thought to many - they’ll likely avoid fruits and other sweet treats. Thanks to your cat’s ancestry, his taste buds lack the genes needed to detect sugar. But, don’t go leaving a cake untended on the counter! Your cat may be attracted to the smell or texture, despite the inability to actually taste it.
9. Sweaty Cat
Humans sweat. Dogs pant. Pigs roll in mud - but what do cats do to cool down? Turns out, just like you, cats can get a little sweaty! Their most effective sweat glands are located on their paws and between their toes - so they may leave a trail of wet paw prints on the floor if it’s a particularly hot day.
10. Cats have Lots of Bones
Ever wonder why cats can creep and crawl into spaces that seem way too small? Cats have extra bones - anywhere from 230 to 250 - depending on number of toes and tail length. Their skeletons are structured loosely, and they lack attached collarbones, allowing them to easily shift and shimmy through tight spaces.
11. Some Cats have Extra Toes
Speaking of toes, some cats are polydactyl, meaning they have at least 1 extra toe. While cats usually only have 5 toes on the front two paws, and 4 toes on the back two paws, when they inherit polydactyly, they may have up to 7 toes on one paw. In fact, some cats seem to have thumbs - when the extra toe develops on the inside of the front paw it looks like a mitten. Talk about adorable!
12. Most Cats are Left-Pawed
Extra toes or not, studies show that most cats prefer using a specific paw. While this may come as a surprise, since cats are known as one of the most dexterous species, only about 25% of them are ambidextrous. Females are most likely to favor their right paw, while males usually prefer using their left paw, mirroring trends in humans.
13. Cats are Known for Allorubbing
Allorubbing - not something you do after a long day in the sun. Actually, cats use allorubbing, the act of rubbing their bodies against you, to say hello! They also use it as a way to cover you in their scent and mark you as their own. While this may sound possessive, it’s just your cat’s way of saying he loves you. Your cat may even rub on other family pets!
14. Cats have an Extra Organ
Ever wonder why your cat sometimes curls his lip up into a sneer at you? We promise it’s not in disgust - well, maybe not. Can’t really ever say with cats. Your cat, like a snake, has an extra set of sensory cells, known as the Jacobson’s Organ, at the roof of his mouth. This allows your cat to inhale and trap pheromones and other scents for greater analyzation. The Flehmen Response, or the flicking of the pheromones to the Jacobson’s Organ for further evaluation, is what creates that iconic lip curl.
15. Cats Heal Themselves by Purring
Most loving cat owners feel that purring is a sure sign of a happy cat. While your cat’s purr certainly comes from joy when you’re petting him, it can also be a sign of stress. For example, cats tend to purr when they’re injured. Scientists actually believe that when cats purr at a frequency between 25 and 150 Hertz, they’re participating in a self-healing ritual. Studies show that bone density is improved at this frequency! Maybe that’s why cats have “nine lives.”
16. Cats only Meow to Communicate with Humans
Have you ever seen a cat meow at another cat? Probably not. This is because cats use other ways of communicating with their feline friends. For example, scent, expressions, body language, and physical touch work much better for getting their messages across. But when it comes to you, your cat meows to simply say hello! Cats also meow to tell their humans important things like they’re hungry, or want to go outside.
17. A Cat's Nose Print is as Unique as a Human Fingerprint
Like human thumbprints, each cat has a distinctly unique nose print! Each little bump and ridge is special to your cat. So special in fact, that they could be used for identification. Just like human fingerprints!
18. Cats can Jump 6x their Body Length
It’s true! Most healthy house cats can jump about 6 feet high, or 6 times their own body length. According to a study published in The Journal of Experimental Biology, cats power their extreme jumps by crouching, then launching themselves through the air. First, they lift their front legs, then extend their back legs in an explosive pumping motion. And of course, they always land on their feet!
19. Cats can Run up to 30mph
What do you call a human who run 28mph? Usain Bolt. What do you call a cat that can run 30mph? An average housecat. While most humans struggle to run 10mph, your fluffy little cat can jump from 0 to 30mph in a few seconds thanks to their flexible skeletons. Like a cheetah, a cat’s back legs extend beyond his front legs while running.
20. Your Cat could Live for 30 Years
The oldest cat to ever live, Creme Puff from Texas, lived to be 38 years old! House cats typically live anywhere from 12 to 18 years, with most living an average of 15 years. Their life expectancy depends on a variety of factors including genetics, diet, and extent of veterinary care. To promote a long, healthy life provide your cat with a balanced carnivore diet and keep up with their annual vet visits!
Do you have any fun feline facts? Share them with us in the comments!
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