Cats are arguably the most popular pet in the world. But there's a lot about these furry felines that has evaded public knowledge. Take a look at these 15 Weird, Fun Cat Facts and see what you didn't know about Mittens or Snowball.
1. Sweaty Palms
Cat kneading behaviour is actually a way to mark territory. Cats have sweat glands at the base of their paws. They rub or knead their paws on things and leave this sweat behind as a personal mark.
2. Scientifically Speaking
Cat lovers are known scientifically as ailurophiles. Deathly afraid of cats? That’s called ailurophobia.
3. Righties and Lefties
Like humans and dogs, cats tend to be either left or right-pawed. Female cats tend to be right-pawed and male cats tend to be lefties. What’s interesting is that while 90% of humans are right-handed, the 10% who are left-handed are overwhelmingly male.
4. Stuck Up
Ever wonder why cats get stuck up in trees? All of a cat’s claws point the same way, so to get down from a tree they need to back down it. One exception to this is the Norwegian Forest Cat – their extra thick claws and strong legs allow them to climb down from trees head first.
5. Feet First
A cat’s righting reflex is your cat’s natural ability to change its position in order to land on its feet. Contrary to some myth, cats without tails also have this ability, as the motion requires the tail very little, instead relying on hind leg movement and a conservation of angular momentum.
6. Makes Scents
Ever wondered why a cat will sometimes smell with its mouth open? In addition to smelling with their noses, cats also can smell with their mouths. Located on the roof of your cat’s mouth is a unique organ called the Jacobson’s organ.
7. Silent Sleepers
Light Sleeper? Choose a cat instead. Only 7% of cats snore, compared to 21% of dogs. Persians, Himalayans, and other short, flat nosed breeds are more likely to snore. Overweight or obese cats or cats with respiratory infections are also more likely to snore.
8. What's in a Name?
A young cat is called a kitten, its mother a dam and father a sire. Kittens used to alternatively be called catlings. In-tact male cats are called a tom and their neutered counterparts are gibs. Female cats can be called a queen or molly. A group of cats is a clowder or a glaring.
9. Fierce Predators
According to a recent study done in the United States, cats (including strays and housecats) are responsible for more small mammal and bird deaths than automobiles, pesticides and poisons, building collisions, and other human-linked causes. This makes domestic cats one of the greatest human-caused threats to local wildlife. Another reason to keep kitty indoors!
10. Not so Different
Cats can have a form of feline AIDs called FAIDs. Starting with FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), FAIDs attacks the immune system much like the human version of the virus. However, FIV is only present in cat saliva and is primarily transmitted through biting, not mating (except through biting that occurs during mating). While from the same family, HIV and FIV cannot respectively be transmitted to cats and humans.
11. Man's Best Friend
Cats are the most popular pet in the world. Joking aside, men are just as likely as women to own cats. Cats are found nearly everywhere in the world where humans are. DNA testing reveals that domestic cats are related to African wildcats. These cats, which are alive today, can still interbreed with domestic housecats.
12. Night Vision
Cats have excellent night vision. Cats can see in 1/6 of the light necessary for a human to see. However, unlike popular belief, cats cannot see in total darkness. They see best in dim light conditions.
13. Elder Cats
The oldest known cat was a female cat named Creme Puff. She lived to be 38 years and three days old. Her owner, Jake Perry of Austin, Texas, also had another long-lived cat. Granpa Rex Alan lived to be 34 years and two months old. Some speculate it was the cats’ unusual diet, which included (not limited to) bacon, eggs, broccoli, and asparagus, that may have led to their ripe age. Indoor cats live on average 12-16 years.
14. The Way We Roll
Cats walk by moving both right legs and then left legs simultaneously. Elephants, camels, and giraffes are the only other animals that move this way.
15. Cat Naps
Cat owners know that cats sleep a lot. But did you know that cats sleep more than any other mammal? On average, cats sleep 16 hours a day, with some adult cats sleeping up to 20 hours in a single 24 hour period.