Cats are kept as pets by many people around the world. There are very few places on earth where you won’t find them and there are so many breeds that it is mind boggling. Most of us are privy to this animal, yet very few truly appreciate what remarkable animals they are. Here are a few fun facts about cats that will surely take you by surprise.
Fun and Interesting Facts about Cats
There are about 37 species of cats, and domestic cats are only one of them. This gives us an insight into the huge diversity that exists within the cat population.
Domestic cats are also called small cats. They differ from their wild relatives like tigers and cheetahs by their small size, nocturnal behavior, and ability to purr. Cats have been kept as pets for around 4000 years. It was commonly believed that ancient Egyptians were the first to domesticate cats. However, a pet cat found in a 9500-year-old grave along the Mediterranean Island suggests otherwise. Previously known for their hunting skills, they are now sought after for their companionship and adorable behavior. Cats are now the most abundant pets in the UK and US, outnumbering even dogs. There are about 88 million pet cats in the US and we haven’t even included the wild ones yet! They could form their own planet with those numbers.
The term wild cat or big cat is used to refer to the member of the genus Panthera. There are about five species in this group. Wild cats include lions, tiger leopards, jaguars, cougars, cheetahs and snow leopards. They are remarkably huge and have a distinctive roar. This is attributed to a unique larynx and a specialized part called the hyoid apparatus that helps them produce those sounds. The animals within this genus also vary in the structure of eye sockets and skulls along with their lifestyles and methods of reproduction.
Physical Features of Feline and Their Behavior
- Cats have about 30 teeth (dogs have 42) that are really sharp and help them capture their prey and tear flesh.
- Cats have astounding hearing capabilities. They can hear high-frequency sounds that humans can’t. Their ears are controlled by 32 muscles that help them locate their prey and even identify when their cat food is opened. Their ears also help them maintain balance. It is due to their ears
that cats can right themselves while falling, preventing head injuries.
- Cat eyes can magnify light up to 6 times because of the presence of a specialized membrane called tapetum lucidum.
- Their tongues are covered in backward thorn-like barbs that help propel the food and water to the back of the mouth. These tongues are also adapted for grooming purposes. To humans, the texture of the cat’s tongues feels like sandpaper.
- They can run at remarkable speeds of about 30km/h.
- Males are usually heavier than females.
- Cats use rubbing and scratching as a means of communication. It enables them to transfer their scent from the scent glands found on their paws and cheeks. They also mark their territory this way.
- They usually give birth to litters with one to nine kittens. The largest litter till date had 19 kittens, of which 15 survived.
- They can jump to five times their height in a single bound.
- They spend two-thirds of their lives sleeping.
- They can’t taste sweet food.
- They use their whiskers to analyze if they can fit in a space.
- The biggest cat today is the Siberian tiger that is about 12 feet long and has a weight of 700 pounds.
Also Read: How Long Do Cats Live
Interesting Cat Facts and History
Cats have been treated differently throughout the course of history by different people and civilizations. Many myths surround them as well. Pope Innocent VIII deemed cats as evil creatures and burned thousands of them. This, however, led to an increase in the rat population as well as in the incidence of plagues.
People from the Middle Ages associated cats with witchcraft and during religious rituals, stacked them up in sacks and threw them in fire or tossed them from church towers.
The first cat to make the trip to outer space was called Felicette. It was sent by France in 1963 and the electrodes in her brains sent back impulses to the Earth. She then returned safely.
According to Hebrew beliefs, Noah’s prayers for saving food from cats were answered by God in the form of cats that popped out when a lion sneezed.
Ancient Egyptians used to mourn the loss of a family cat by shaving off their eyebrows, holding funerals and making a mummy of the cat. Also, cat smugglers were given death punishments.