Given how popular cats are the world over, you’d think that we would know everything that there is to know about these adorable creatures by now. However, they’re nothing if not continually surprising, and it seems like every day, the world stumbles upon a new discovery about our feline friends.
With that in mind, we thought it would be a good idea to round up a few facts that you might not know about your beloved pet. This information may not completely change how you interact with your cat, but at the very least, it should help you understand them better.
The 60 Facts About Cats
The 20 Facts About Cat Behavior
- You know that “chattering” sound that your cat makes when they see a bird outside? Scientists aren’t completely sure why they do it, but they think that it’s either due to frustration that they can’t kill the bird, or it’s to loosen up their jaw muscles in preparation for killing the bird.
- Cats spend as much as 50% of their awake time grooming themselves.
- Just like humans, cats can be either right- or left-handed (right- or left-pawed, we suppose). Also just like in humans, females tend to be right-handed, while lefties are predominantly male.
- When your cat rubs their head on you, they’re not just showing affection. This behavior, called “bunting,” is actually a way of rubbing their scent on you so as to claim ownership of you.
- Hissing is a defensive posture, not an aggressive one. It means the cat wants to be left alone, not that they’re looking to start something. In fact, when cats fight, the one that’s hissing is usually the one that just wants to run away rather than continue scrapping.
- Yawning is a behavior that cats use to defuse tense situations. A cat that yawns is signaling to others that they wish to be done with the current interaction. Interestingly enough, that’s exactly what yawning signals in humans too, except it’s seen as way more aggressive when we do it.
- When your cat kneads your skin, it’s because they’re extremely content. Kittens do this to their mothers in order to stimulate milk production, so when your cat makes biscuits on your stomach, it means they’re going to their happy place.
- Cats have funny ways of showing you that they consider you a friend. “Friendship cues” include draping their bodies over yours, smacking you with retracted claws, and of course, sticking their butts in your face.
- Have you ever wondered why cats meow? It’s to talk to you! That particular vocalization is only used to communicate with humans, so it’s kind of rude that you apparently haven’t been paying attention this whole time!
- Cats can actually make over 100 different sounds (whereas dogs can only make 10).
- Most cats hate the smell of citrus for some reason. That’s why the scent is used in many sprays designed to keep cats off of surfaces. Instead of buying these products, though, you may be able to just spread a few orange peels around and get the same effect.
- Cats love hanging out in laundry baskets because they’re basically mini-fortresses that come complete with peepholes.
- According to a study performed by the University of Tokyo, cats can recognize their owners’ voices, yet they only come when called about 10% of the time.
- Unlike dogs, cats wag their tails as a warning. We guess that dogs wag their tails as a warning too, but in their case, the warning is, “You’re about to get your face licked!”
- Cats are observational learners. Kittens learn to hunt by watching their mothers, and they also learn to trust you from watching their mother interact with you.
- Socialization with humans is most effective when it happens between the ages of 3 and 9 weeks. Having the mother around helps too (the kittens need to watch her to see how to respond to you).
- Most cats will rarely pick fights, but when they do, it’s usually over protecting food, kittens, or territory. If you have cats that fight all the time, look to see if any of them seem to be protecting something; solving the issue may be as simple as removing the trigger.
- There are 52 measured personality traits in cats, most of which are organized into five categories: neuroticism, extroversion, dominance, impulsiveness, and agreeableness. Dogs, on the other hand, only have two: happy because they’re currently licking your face and happy because they know that they’re going to lick your face again soon.
- Does your cat bring you ”gifts” like dead mice? Rather than being repulsed, you should treat this the way that it was intended: as a reward for all you do. Don’t encourage the behavior, though, or else you’ll just end up with more of the same gifts.
- If you see your cat laying with their belly up, this means they’re comfortable in their surroundings. It does not mean that they want you to rub said belly, though!
The 20 Facts About Cat Health
- Cats are actually nearsighted. They have excellent peripheral vision, though, so don’t think that you can sneak up on them (unless, of course, you’re a cucumber ).
- Your cat sweats through their paws. They also pant occasionally, but unlike dogs, panting is generally a sign of stress rather than overheating in cats.
- The tongues of tabby cats are covered in backward-pointing spines. The purpose of these strange spines is to help them rip meat off the carcasses of their vanquished prey. There’s another animal that also has these same spines: the tiger. That’s right, maybe you should pay your tabby a little more respect.
- Although cats purr for various reasons, one may be to heal damaged or broken bones. The vibrational frequency of a cat’s purr helps promote bone density and healing, so don’t assume that a purring cat is happy to see you — they may just be doing their best Wolverine impression.
- Cats have highly efficient kidneys — so much so, in fact, that they can drink ocean water without any problems. You should still give your cat salt-free H2O, of course, but rest assured that if you and your cat are ever stranded at sea, at least your cat will have plenty of water to drink.
- Every cat’s nose has a unique style to it, just like human fingerprints. The next time that you’re trying to figure out which cat knocked your philodendron off the ledge, don’t bother dusting for paw prints — look at their noses instead.
- Keeping your cat indoors is one of the best things that you can do for their health. Studies have shown that indoor cats can live as much as seven times longer than outdoor cats, so if you value having your little buddy around, don’t let them go outside.
- This is less a fact about your cat’s health and more about the health of every other living thing in your neighborhood: Cats are an invasive species. They can decimate bird, mammal, and reptile populations, so keeping your kitty indoors won’t just help them live longer, it will also help everything else in the area live longer too.
- It’s estimated that as many as 60% of American housecats are obese or dangerously overweight. Carrying too many extra pounds is terrible for your cat’s health, so if you have a little Garfield on your hands, ramp up the exercise and cut back on the lasagna.
- Cats have baby teeth too! As kittens, they have 26 baby teeth, but as they mature, they’ll end up with 30 permanent teeth. We bet that the Tooth Fairy didn’t even think to visit your cat, did she?
- Speaking of your cat’s mouth, don’t ignore bad breath. Cats shouldn’t have bad breath (unless they’ve recently eaten something that they shouldn’t have), so if your cat has a chronic case of halitosis, it could mean they have a rotten tooth, gum disease, or something else. Take them to the vet immediately.
- Whiskers serve a purpose. They’re connected to the cat’s nervous system, acting as touch receptors and enabling your kitty to detect changes in their surroundings. That’s why you should never, ever trim or pull on a cat’s whiskers.
- It’s totally normal for cats to sleep as much as 20 hours a day. The only time that you should be concerned about your cat’s sleep is if it changes from its normal pattern. Cats who sleep much more than usual could be ill or depressed, and those who sleep less than usual may also be ill.
- Hairballs are technically known as “bezoars.” A bezoar is any mass of foreign material that accumulates inside the digestive tract. Some bezoars are relatively harmless, but others can be life-threatening (including hairballs). If you suspect that something is lodged in your cat’s stomach, take them to the vet immediately.
- Cats’ claws point backward, so if your cat’s in a tree, don’t try to force them down head-first. They can only back down, so if you shove on their butt, you’ll only do more harm than good.
- If your kitty’s constantly getting stuck in trees, declawing them isn’t the answer (but keeping them inside is). Declawing cats is terrible for them because it makes it harder for them to interact with the world and leaves them defenseless. Just trim their nails regularly instead.
- Cats can only move their jaws up and down, not sideways. As a result, they can’t chew large chunks of food. If you’re sharing scraps with your cat (and you really shouldn’t be), then make sure that the pieces are small enough for them to munch on easily.
- Felines don’t have collarbones, which is why they can squeeze through any opening that’s at least as big as their head.
- Cats reproduce like rabbits (which coincidentally enough, reproduce far less when there are cats around — keep your kitties inside, people!). A single pair of cats and their offspring could potentially create over 420,000 kittens in just 7 years. This is why it’s so important to get your pets spayed or neutered.
- In addition to keeping the stray cat population down, spaying/neutering is good for your cat’s health. Altered cats live longer, behave better, and are less likely to run away from home, making it one of the best things that you can do for their health and longevity.
The 20 Random Cat Facts
- There are over 200 cats that have a better job than you do. That’s right, they work at Disneyland! Their job is to catch and eat any rodents that may show up, helping to keep the park clean.
- Cats are notoriously picky eaters — so much so, they’ll refuse a food that they don’t like to the point of starving to death. If your cat isn’t a fan of their new kibble, don’t try to wait them out because you might be waiting a long time indeed.
- Like people, cats have active dream lives.
- Kittens from the same litter can have different fathers, as female cats release multiple eggs when they’re in heat.
- Abraham Lincoln was a huge cat lover and had two cats in the White House, Tabby and Dixie.
- There have been several famous cat haters throughout history, including the likes of Genghis Khan, Napoleon Bonaparte, and of course, Adolf Hitler.
- Catnip is thought to trigger euphoria and possibly even hallucinations in cats — you know, just like LSD. Nepetalactone, an oil found in the herb, activates the “happiness receptors” in your cat’s brain, giving them a short-lived bout of the feel-goods.
- Not all cats are capable of tripping on catnip, though. It only affects about 50% of cats, and you won’t know if your kitten is one of the lucky ones until they’re between 3 and 6 months old.
- However, all species of cats are capable of getting high on catnip, including big cats like lions, tigers, and leopards. After all, there’s nothing safer than having a hallucinating tiger running around.
- There’s a dispute as to exactly how many breeds of housecats there are. The International Cat Association recognizes 71 individual breeds, while the Cat Fanciers’ Association only recognizes 44.
- Around 5% of cat owners hold birthday parties for their cats, and 47% of cat owners take pictures of their cats almost every day. The other cat owners are weird.
- A cat named Dusty holds the world record for most kittens, as she gave birth to a staggering 420 children over her lifetime.
- The record for the oldest mother belongs to the cleverly named Kitty, who had two kitties of her own at the ripe old age of 30. Kitty is nothing compared to Dusty, however, as she only gave birth to a paltry 218 kittens in her lifetime.
- A male cat named Andy holds the record for longest non-fatal fall, as he survived falling from a 16-story apartment.
- A notable male cat was Hamlet, which escaped from his carrier in the middle of a flight. He hid on the plane for nearly 2 months, and by the time he was found, he had traveled nearly 373,000 miles.
- Felicette was a French cat that was launched into space (on purpose, we presume) in 1963. She flew over 100 miles above the Earth and briefly achieved weightlessness before landing safely back on her home planet.
- In Scotland, there’s a tower commemorating a cat named Towser. All Towser did was catch 30,000 mice in her lifetime, undoubtedly saving people from countless diseases as a result.
- A snowshoe cat in California named Dusty earned notoriety for his acts of bravery, which involved breaking into neighbors’ homes and stealing things. Over a span of 2 years, Dusty’s haul included 213 dish towels, four pairs of underwear, eight bathing suits, and 73 socks (so that’s where all our socks go!).
- Americans love their cats. There are more cats than dogs in the United States, and every year, Americans spend more money on cat food than baby food.
- About one in three people are allergic to cats, but that can go both ways, as it’s believed that one in 200 cats is allergic to humans.
There’s So Much to Love About Cats
These facts may or may not have been news to you, but one thing’s for certain: Cats are wonderful, mysterious creatures. We expect that we’ll continue to learn strange facts about our feline friends for many years to come, so don’t be surprised if this list keeps growing.
In the end, there’s only one fact that matters, and it’s that cats are pretty great.
You may also be interested in:
- 4 Reasons Why Cats Roll Around in Litter Boxes (And How to Stop It)
- Why Your Cat Is Staring at the Ceiling: 5 Common Reasons
Featured Image Credit: Sarah Fields Photography, Shutterstock