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52 Facts About Cats

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Hey there friends, I’m Yvonne Page Illustrates and for today’s episode of Facts to Relax I’ll be sharing 52 facts about cats with you-one for every week of the year! Whether you love them or hate them, felines are the second most popular pet worldwide and even though I’m a true cat lover and have always shared my home with at least one feline friend, I can tell you, I learned some really interesting new things while researching this episode and hopefully you will too. If you feel like coloring along with me while we learn about cats, I’ve included a link in the description below where you can go to download the picture I’m coloring on the screen. So let’s jump into it now with these fifty-two relaxing facts about cats.

  1. Though dogs are the most popular pet worldwide, in North America, cats outnumber dogs 73 million to 63 million with 30% of households sharing their homes with domestic cats. 
  2. Domestic house cats share about 96.5% of their DNA with tigers. To make sense of that, you can consider that humans share a very similar percentage of our DNA with chimpanzees and bonobos. So, though the cats we share our homes with are very much their own species, they still have many physical and behavioral traits that match up to their jungle cousins, just as we humans do with primates.
  3. Scientists have discovered that all domestic cats actually descended from the Near Eastern wildcat which still roams in the Middle Eastern desert. These wildcats are very small and look a lot like modern day house cats, rather than large jungle lions, tigers, or jaguars. It’s believed they lived alongside humans as we began our agricultural revolution, since that new lifestyle had the tendency to attract mice and rats. Early farmers didn’t want rodents around their crops and livestock and cats loved this new, easy supply of prey, so this relationship worked out great for both of us. In fact, the oldest cat grave was found on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus from 9,500 years ago showing that even back then, we humans respected and revered felines.
  4. It would be thousands of years before these wildcats were ready to become house cats though. Little by little, cats decided that they would allow themselves to be domesticated. Their genes slowly changed, with the most significant physical change being the new stripes and dots that we recognize on tabby cats.
  5. Two distinct cat lineages led to the cats we know and love today. One spread from southwest Asia into Europe and the other from Africa to the Mediterranean and most of the old world.
  6. Cats really became popular pets in ancient Egypt and most Ancient Egyptian families had cats. At first this was probably because of their usefulness as hunters. They kept rodents and snakes out of houses and helped catch birds and fish on hunting trips but they quickly became revered for much more than that. Several Egyptian gods and goddesses were associated with cats, including the goddess Bastet, who had the body of a woman and the head of a cat. She was the household goddess, responsible for mothers and children, fertility, dancing, and, of course, pet cats.
  7. Many ancient Egyptian cats were revered so highly that they were mummified. Cat jewelry and ornaments were popular, dreams about cats were thought to bring good fortune, and the penalty for killing a cat in ancient Egypt was often death.
  8. Vikings also loved cats and brought them on their ships to kill rodents. These seafaring felines made stops in different countries in their travels and the Vikings can be credited for helping to spread these pets across the globe. 
  9. Since then, domestic cats have grown to be about 16% larger than Viking cats were, which is unusual since most other domesticated animals have grown significantly smaller over time.
  10. Cats were first brought to the Americas during colonial times in order to help get rid of unwanted rodents. They still help serve this purpose in some grocery stores, bodegas, and even in Disneyland!
  11. President Abraham Lincoln had four cats living at the White House with him during his presidency and Bill Clinton’s cat, Socks, received more letters than the president himself, he was so beloved.
  12. Sir Isaac Newton may have discovered gravity but his much lesser known claim to fame is the invention of the cat flap so I guess it’s thanks to him that my house personally has five doors with cat flaps in them, which I’m sure will be great for the resale value someday.
  13. It’s rumored that cats perceive us humans as merely giant, hairless cats. They probably feel very sorry for us having to constantly put on clothes to keep ourselves warm and needing to wake up and leave our houses everyday for work while they sleep a… ugh, I mean, protect the home from rodents and other vermin as is their job, of course. 
  14. Speaking of hairless cats, the Sphynx cat originated in Canada, and the Donskoy, another hairless breed, originated in Russia, which is weird considering how cold it gets in both those places. Sphynx cats tend to have naturally higher body temperatures by about four degrees than furry cats however, so perhaps that helps. And since they’re bred for their hairlessness and are very friendly to humans, they don’t usually have any problems getting assistance from us to stay warm.
  15. Like human fingerprints, cats also have an identifying print…their nose prints are each one-of-a-kind.
  16. Cat brains and human brains are biologically not all that different. We even have identical regions that are responsible for emotion.
  17. Cats have more bones than humans though. We have only 206 while they have a whopping 230!
  18. Cat’s tails aren’t just for decoration. They help them balance when they’re jumping or walking on narrow ledges. Tails can also help cats to communicate. The way the cat holds its tail when it approaches you may be a sign of how they’re feeling so pay attention. A straight up, sort of vibrating tail indicates happiness to see you and if it’s curved like a question mark, he or she may be asking if you want to play. If their tail is swishing back and forth quickly, that can mean the cat’s angry…or curious. If it’s puffed out, the cat’s feeling threatened and trying to appear bigger to scare something or somebody away. Likewise, their whiskers help cats feel the world around them. Since they’re generally about as wide as the cat’s body, whiskers brushing against things let them know whether or not they can fit into tight spaces. Whiskers may also help you know how your cat’s feeling. If he’s scared he’ll pull his whiskers back but in hunting mode he’ll push them forward.
  19. Even though cats use their whiskers to let them know how much space they have to get through tight spots, they lack collarbones which mean they can potentially fit their whole bodies through small openings that need to be only about as large as their heads.
  20. Normally cats have 18 toes- 5 on each front paw and 4 on each back paw. Some cats, referred to as “polydactls” have extra toes though. These extra digits are normally found on the front paws, and rarely on the back, often resembling a sort of thumb.
  21. Cats sleep for about 12-16 hours a day and they’re most active around dawn and dusk-when the sun’s rising and setting. This undoubtedly has to do with the fact that these are also the hours when rodents are most active as well.
  22. When they’re awake, cats spend up to a third of their time grooming themselves. The grooming process helps cats to relax, stimulates blood flow to the skin, and regulates body temperature.
  23. Catnip contains a chemical called nepetalactone, which makes cats act crazy. Luckily, the effects wear off within about 15 minutes and won’t come back again for a few hours, which may explain why your kitty seems super excited about that new catnip mouse for a few minutes and then grows quickly bored with it.
  24. Cats may find direct eye contact threatening but if you slowly blink at a cat, it’s like blowing them a kiss. It’s a sign cats recognize as contentment and trust. I read about this once recently and now I slow blink at my cat Mary all the time and usually, she returns the favor so it’s a trick I highly recommend trying if you have a cat of your own.
  25. Though a cat hissing at you may be scary, it’s actually a sign that they’re scared too, not that they’re angry. Show some empathy for their fear and you may be able skip out on the next step that always seems to follow hissing-being attacked by said cat.
  26. Cats can run faster than humans for short distances. Even Usain Bolt couldn’t compete with a cat in the 200 meter dash.
  27. Cats can also jump five times their height. I’m not saying they should be allowed to compete in the Olympics or anything but they definitely should be. Absolutely, yes. Please. Kitty Olympics. Right now.
  28. Do you love watching funny cat videos on Youtube? Well the first known cat video was captured in 1894. It is an approximately 20 second clip of two cats wearing boxing gloves fighting in a cat-sized boxing ring with a human man behind them refereeing. Not my personal cup of tea but if you’d like to see it, I have linked this video in the description below. 
  29. A group of cats is called a clowder.
  30. The oldest cat ever recorded to live was named Creme Puff and he lived to be 38 years and three days old.
  31. Cats are very good at reading a room and knowing your mood. They can tell when we’re happy or angry, especially by the tone of our voices. And since cats can hold grudges like no one else, you may want to be careful about raising your voice around little Frisky since he may never forgive you for that sin.
  32. Just like humans are either left handed, right handed, or ambidextrous, so are cats! Male cats are more likely to be left-pawed while females are more likely to be right-pawed but about 40% of cats appear to be able to use both paws equally as well, making them ambidextrous.
  33. When cats walk they move both their right feet together and then both their left feet together. The only other animals that walk like this are camels and giraffes.
  34. Cats can make about 100 different sounds which is way more than dogs, who, by comparison, make only about 10.
  35. A cat’s purr is a mysterious thing. It’s believed that the noise is made when the part of the larynx that surrounds their vocal cords dilates and contracts. Cats may purr at their humans or at other cats and though it may all sound the same to us, they may make different purrs for different reasons. A kitten’s purr may be a way for a mother to locate it, and when cats purr at us humans it’s likely their way of saying “hey stay here with me, please.” They normally purr when they’re happy but they may also purr if they’re injured, anxious, or sick. 
  36. It’s even believed that the frequency of a cat’s purr-between 20 and 150 Hz (hertz) can promote bone growth, and skin and soft tissue repair in the cat and anyone who’s ever enjoyed an afternoon with a cat purring on their lap knows that the sound can be healing, or at least comforting, to us humans as well.
  37. For the most part, cats only meow at humans, not at other animals, even other cats. However, they may yowl at other cats which sounds a lot like a meow but tends to be longer and more drawn out. Instead, they communicate with each other with physical signs and contact, different vocalizations, and using chemical cues like spraying pheromones, oils, and urine to mark territory. It’s even thought that cats began to meow as a means of domesticating themselves, ie making themselves more sympathetic to humans. Some experts speculate that the particular sound of a cat’s meow, which is the same frequency as a human baby’s cry is not a coincidence at all, and that cats actually developed the particular sound as a means of manipulating humans into wanting to care for and feed them.
  38. Cats have super rough tongues, which can be used to lick all the meat off a bone cleanly and easily.
  39. Speaking of meat, cats’ evolution as hunters means that they need lots of protein-at least 26% of their diet in fact should be protein, as well as moderate amounts of fat, and a minimal amount of carbohydrates. They actually need more than twice as much protein per day as dogs do and more than 3 times as much as humans.
  40. Picky kitties- cats can be very choosy when it comes to their food. They may reject certain foods to the point of starvation and for the most part, they prefer their food around room temperature, as it would be in the wild, rather than hot or cold.
  41. Cats don’t like citrus scents so if you have an area you don’t want them to go, you can try using a lemon or orange scented spray or oil and see if that helps.
  42. Part of the reason that cats don’t like citrus scents may be because citrus fruits are actually toxic to them. Other things that cats shouldn’t consume for their health and safety include bread dough with yeast, alcohol, chocolate, coffee, coconut, grapes, raisins, salt, nuts, garlic, leeks, chives, and raw meat or fish products.
  43. In addition to the other toxic foods, cats are lactose intolerant. Other than baby kittens who drink their mothers’ milk, it’s a good idea to avoid giving cats milk, despite old wives’ tales that talk about giving kitty a saucer of warm milk. Cow’s milk may cause upset bellies and smelly gas which will be regrettable for everyone involved.
  44. Finally tylenol, aspirin, and many houseplants are toxic to cats so keep them away!
  45. If you do want to share human food with your kitty, you should be careful not to give them too much but some safe foods include cooked meats, fish, and eggs, some cheeses since they may not contain much lactose, bananas, berries, melon, rice, oatmeal, spinach, carrots, and pumpkin.
  46. Cats don’t taste sweetness. It’s believed that they’re the only mammal who doesn’t!
  47. Cats are very sensitive to vibrations. They may even be able to detect earthquake tremors upwards of 10-15 minutes before humans can.
  48. Do cats sweat? Yes, but only through their paws.
  49. The cat heart beats twice as fast as the human heart, with them beating between 110-140 times per minute.
  50. Think you have a purebred cat? Well, if you got it from a shelter, you probably don’t, no matter how regal it may seem. Cat breeders are very careful about making sure these specialty felines aren’t allowed outside to mate with other cats and since they are usually quite costly, the likelihood of one ending up as a rescue cat is very low.
  51. Cats have a flap of skin hanging from their bellies that is called a primordial pouch, though it’s more noticeable in some cats than others. Experts have different opinions on what the pouch’s purpose is. Maybe it’s extra protection for sensitive internal organs or maybe it’s meant to allow for expansion of the stomach if a cat eats an extra large meal, or maybe when a cat runs or jumps, the extra skin allows for further range of motion. No matter what the reason though, the extra skin swaying side to side under kitty’s belly when he walks does not mean that he’s overweight and that’s just one of the reasons you should never fat shame a cat. The other reason is they might bite you if you do. 
  52. Cats may be super stealthy and sneaky but it turns out they make terrible spies. The CIA once planned to turn cats into portable spying devices by implanting microphones in their ears with a radio transmitter in their skulls. They tried the experiment on one cat, hoping to train it to sit near foreign officials and capture their private conversations. Unfortunately, the test kitty didn’t cooperate at all so the experiment was quickly abandoned and they decided to turn to spying beetles instead.

Well on that note, that’s all the cat facts we have for today. I hope you enjoyed learning these new things with me and I hope you don’t fur-get, sorry I had to throw in at least one cat pun in this episode, to come back soon and join me again for another episode of Facts to Relax. If you found this show interesting or enjoyable, please do like and subscribe and share with anyone else who you think might like to learn new things too. And if there’s a topic you’re dying to learn about and you want me to make a video, please let me know in the comments below. Okay, thanks for stopping by. See you later.