18 Lesser-Known Facts About Cats That Every Cat Owner Should Know –
Cats are one of the most popular pets around the world. Lithe, regal, dignified and fiercely independent, this furry bundle of joy and mischief wows us with their unconditional love. There are few facts about cats that simply stagger us and there are few facts about cats that makes us even crazier about them. Here are few facts that every cat owner should know.
1. Cats are more popular pets than dogs in America. There are 88 million cats compared to 74 million dogs.
The 2007 National Pet Owner’s survey found out that the pet ownership has increased and is at an all-time high in the United States. A whopping 71.1 million households, that’s 63% of all American households own at least one pet. Even though more houses prefer canine to the feline, the sheer number of cats outstrip the dogs due to many multi-cat homes.(source)
2. Evidence suggests domesticated cats have been around since 3600 B.C., 2,000 years before Egypt’s Pharaohs.
The skeleton of six cats, including four kittens suggests that the cats were domesticated much earlier than suspected. Archaeologists once believed that the wild cats were domesticated during the time of Pharaohs around, 4,800 years ago. But the bones found at Hierakonpolis, an ancient Egyptian Cemetery for the wealthy dating back to 3600 B.C and 3,800 B.C. suggests otherwise.(source)
3. Cats don’t have taste receptors that react to sweet things. This means that cats, from lions and tigers right down to domestic felines, cannot taste anything sweet.
Image Source: pawpost.co.uk
A 2006 analysis of the cats tongue revealed the interesting fact that the felines cannot taste sweet owing to the fact that these animals do not need carbohydrates in their diet. In the early days, cats were living off a ‘carnivore-diet’ that excluded sweet flavors, a genetic mutation caused the loss of sweet tasting receptors – giving rise to new species of cats without sweet taste receptors on their tongue.(source)
4. The reason why cats have a vertical slit pupil is because they are ambush predators. The vertical slit pupil helps them to judge the depth so that they can leap at their prey.
Research published in the Journal of Science Advances suggests that nocturnal predators had a vertical slit pupil to gauge the distance for a prey snatching leap. The prey was endowed with a horizontal pupil that allowed them to scan the terrain for the predators and to keep a watch all around while sprinting from danger.(source)
5. A single cat produces 2-8 kittens in a litter. The prolific cat produces 2-3 litters per years, which mean that a single cat can produce 24 kittens per year! A cat can give birth to 100 kittens during her productive years. Therefore a single pair of cats and their kittens can produce as many as 420,000 kittens in just 7 years.
Female cats are prolific breeders. One female cat has the ability to produce 12 kittens per year (if not spayed). Climate plays an important role in the ovulation cycle of the female cats. In a warmer climate, a kitty may go into heat all the year around. Each heat or Estrus cycle lasts about a week and repeats regularly every 2-3 weeks. An unchecked, free mating may result in your kitty giving birth to kittens thrice a year. Each pregnancy produces several kittens and each litter size ranges from 2-8 kittens. This means that a single kitty can produce 24 kittens in a year.(source)
6. When cats bring dead mice or birds back to their owners, “…they are teaching their human to hunt, or helping their human as if feeding ‘an elderly cat, or an inept kitten.’”
Ethologist Paul Leyhausen suggested that cats adopted the humans into their group and shared their kill in accordance with the dominance theory wherein humans were placed high or near the top. Desmond Morris, anthropologist, and Zoologist who wrote the book Catwatching hypothesized that cats are trying to teach the humans to hunt or to help like they do with other elderly or inept kitten. Morris hypothesis does not factor in the fact that male cats also bring in dead mice or birds, even though they have no role in the nurturing of the kittens.(source)
7. Whenever a cat slowly closes its eyes and opens them again or winks at you, that means they trust you and recognize you as a friend.
Cats communicate mainly through their eyes. A slow blinking is a positive sign where the cat says that it trusts you and considers you as their friend. A direct stare will unsettle the cat as it considers ‘direct stare’as a threat.(source)
8. A study found that pet cats do recognize their owner’s voice but choose to ignore their call/commands.
A new study from the University of Japan conducted by Atsuko Saito and Kazutaka Shinozuka confirms a long held suspicion. Cats do recognize their owner’s voice but choose not to respond to it. Saito and Shinozuka suggest that this is possibly due to the fact that the cats ‘domesticated’ themselves (as humans began to farm, cats moved in to prey on rodents essentially evolving themselves as domesticated cats) rather than getting domesticated by the humans to obey human orders.(source)
9. Cats can become addicted to tuna and refuse to eat anything. They are known as ‘Tuna Junkies’. However, eating too much of Tuna can cause the dangerous “Steatitis” or “Yellow Fat” disease (Pansteatitis).
Tuna has a very strong flavor and smell, this can literally drive a cat crazy so much so, they begin to consume just the tuna and avoid other food placed before it. This addiction can turn serious as a consistent diet of tuna can lead to mercury poisoning in cats. The other problem with the ‘tuna-only’diet is that this diet can cause malnutrition. Tuna doesn’t have the required amount of Vitamin E, a deficiency of vitamin E will lead to a condition called “Steatitis” or “Yellow Fat” disease (Pansteatitis).(source)
10. Ancestors of modern day cats relied on their prey to get an adequate amount of water but the present day cats diet of dry foods prevent the cats from staying hydrated. This may lead to Kidney disease and various other complications. So keep your cats hydrated!
A cat’s body is about 70% water. Modern day cats eat plenty of dry food which has only 10% of the water. So they need water to stay hydrated. Cats who eat canned foods get an adequate supply of the water from the food itself (canned food contains 78% of water). Cats who do not get sufficient water can lead to stressing of the kidneys over time. Lack of water makes your cat susceptible to lower urinary tract diseases.(source 1,2 )
11. Feeding milk to an adult cat is a bad idea because adult cats do not produce Lactase – an enzyme that digests lactose present in the milk.
Cats are natural carnivores. Milk has not been part of a wild cat’s diet. Lactase which would be produced by the young kitten will stop its production once the kitten is weaned from milk. Adult cats become lactose intolerant and feeding the cat with milk can cause upset tummy, cramps and even diarrhea.(source)
12. Many cats go crazy around catnip because it contains a chemical which is similar to the odor of a dominant female cat’s urine(in heat).
Catnip is a herb belonging to the mint family. Catnip contains the chemical trans-nepetalactone that affects the cats in a crazy way. trans-nepetalactone smells like the chemical found in the urine of a dominant female cat. This smell tricks the cat into believing that there is a female around and they set out to impress the female cats by rolling around, stretching the claws and doing anything crazy to get the attention of the female cat.(source 1,2)