Cats have their own kingdom of fans all across the globe and on the Internet. But surprisingly, not very many people have them as pets. Of the 74 million cats in the United States, less than half are actually owned as pets! As it turns out, people don't know much about cats as they think they do, despite how popular they are as animals. These cat facts will make you look at your cat differently next time you see them.
Your Cat Is Definitely Ignoring You
It turns out that all those times you've called out to your cat and they've failed to respond, it's because they've been straight-up ignoring you. Cats are attuned to the sound of their owner's voice, but sometimes they just don't care enough to respond.
Studies have shown that cats will either move their head or their ears when they hear a voice, regardless of whether it came from their owner or not.
Your Cat Rubs You Because They Own You
When your cat starts rubbing up against you, you might take it as a sign of affection. You're not completely wrong, but don't be mistaken – this is actually a sign of them asserting their dominance.
Cats rub up against their humans to mark them with their scent. That way, when there are other animals around, they all know that you belong to your cat and no one else!
Harming Cats In Ancient Egypt Was Illegal
Cats in ancient Egypt were regarded on the same level as deities. Ancient Egyptians believed cats were sacred creatures, which is why harming a feline in any way was punishable by death.
In those times, cats were called "Mau." The ancient Egyptians loved them because they helped regulate pest control. They were the solution to snakes, rodents, and bugs that wreaked havoc on their crops in those days.
Cats And Humans Might Think Alike
Cats generally have smaller brains than dogs, but that doesn't mean that they're any less intelligent. In fact, cats might possibly be even more intelligent than their canine counterparts.
Cats' brains are more similar to human brains, which probably explains why cats have more complex personalities than dogs do. Studies have also found that cats' short-term memory doesn't work as well as their long-term memory.
There Are More Cats Than There Are Dogs
Dogs may be far more popular pets than cats, but the number of cats in the United States outnumbers that of dogs. There are over 74 million cats in the U.S., while the number of dogs tops off at just shy of 70 million.
So there may be more cats, but that doesn't mean they all have forever homes, unfortunately. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, just over 36 million homes in America own cats.
The Real Reason Cats Are Always Sleeping
You might think that your cat is lazy since all its doing a majority of the time is sleeping. In fact, this is an energy-saving tactic that helps them stay wide awake for their hunts – which is also probably why they're so active in the middle of the night.
They are still hardwired to hunt at night like their big cat cousins. Cats will spend about 70% of their lives sleeping.
Your Cat's Meows Actually Mean Something
When cats meow, you might think that they're only trying to communicate with other cats. But actually, they might also be trying to communicate with you as well.
Cats really only communicate with each other through scent and other body language. When they're meowing to another cat, it's usually to their mother when they're kittens. But because cats realize that their humans are their caretakers, they've learned to meow at humans to get their attention.
Male Cat Owners Are Gentlemen
There's a reason that ladies love guys who are self-professed cat lovers. Guys who own cats are chick magnets and for a very good reason.
Even the toughest guys who have cats have enough compassion, care, and patience to own one. This is a huge indicator of how they might handle romantic relationships. Some people say that guys who own cats have more luck in the love department than those who don't!
Cats Really Do Have a Personality All Their Own
Cat owners know that no two felines are alike. Every cat truly seems to have a personality all their own - and there's a scientific reason to explain why.
A study by the University of Messina’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine found that captivity can profoundly affect certain animals, felines included. While genetics do play a part in behavior and personality, a cat’s environment is a major factor too. This means that that cats can take on their owner’s behavior…both good and bad.
The Reason Your Cat Follows You Into the Bathroom
Cats are mysterious little creatures. One second they're pretending you don't exist, then the next they're scurrying to follow you into the bathroom. But if you've noticed your cat always seems to follow you into the bathroom, there might be a reason why.
While there's no concrete evidence to explain why cats love following their humans to the bathroom, Mikel Delgado, a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, has some ideas. “Their litter box might be in there, so it could be a room that smells very familiar," she says. "Cats also probably know that when we are on the toilet, we are a captive audience — nowadays we are so busy and distracted that many cats are probably looking for an opportunity to have our undivided attention!”
Cats Can Be Lactose Intolerant
Whenever people see a helpless kitten, the first thing they think of to provide nourishment would probably be a saucer of milk. After all, that's just what we've learned from popular culture.
But you might just want to go for water next time you encounter this situation because cats can actually develop lactose intolerance. If you've ever tried to feed a cat with milk and they weren't having it, this is probably the reason.
Cats Are Faster Runners Than Usain Bolt
On average, cats can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour! For reference, that's just a hair above Olympian Usain Bolt's average speed, which is around 27 miles per hour.
While most cats are pretty fast in general, biology does play a role in how fast they can actually run. It mostly depends on what breed your cat is. Egyptian Maus, Abyssinians, Somalis, Bengals, Savannahs, Manxes, Siamese Cats, Ocicats, and Orientals are among the fastest.
An Italian Cat Inherited $13 Million From Its Owner
One of the wealthiest cats in the world is a cat named Tommaso who lived in Italy with his owner Maria Assunta. When Assunta passed away at 94 years old in 2011, she left the entirety of her estate to Tommaso.
That estate was worth $13 million and included villas from Milan to Calabria. Tommaso went from being a simple street cat in Rome to becoming the richest cat in Italy!
It's Believed That Cat People Are Introverts
Many people believe that cat lovers are more introverted and independent than those who prefer dogs. The behavior of introverts and cats are apparently very similar, which is why people think this.
Like cats, introverts are usually independent and typically go off on their own. They usually do things at their own pace, alone, and are fueled by their own world. This also means that they're pretty good at finding ways to entertain themselves.
A Cat Was The Mayor Of A Small Alaskan Town
Since 1998, the small town of Talkeetna, Alaska has had a cat for its mayor. Stubbs the cat won the mayoral election for Talkeetna as part of a successful write-in campaign. Mayor Stubbs has remained in office until his passing in 2017.
The whole time Mayor Stubbs was in office, there was no actual human mayor for the town so that only goes to show how seriously Stubbs took the role. He lived to be 20 years old.
Cats Don't Like Sweet Things
Cats seem to love all the meaty foods you feed them but don't even try to act curious when it comes to all the sweets on your table. Cats don't have a sweet tooth, but the reason they don't beg for cake is a step beyond that.
Cats aren't fond of sweets because they actually can't taste them. Cats are one of the few mammals in the world that lack the taste receptors for sweetness.
Cats Can Make 100 Different Sounds
Cats don't make a lot of noise, partially because they're always sleeping. But your cat has the ability to be more vocal than you think. With their strong vocal chords, cats have the ability to make up to 100 different sounds!
Besides the basic meow, some of the most common cat noises include purring, hissing, yowling, growling, and wailing. Cats purr when they're content but they hiss when they're angry or scared.
Cats May Have Domesticated Themselves
While humans are notorious for domesticating animals, it's widely believed that cats actually domesticated themselves. After all, they're independent creatures, so having humans around isn't exactly a necessity but historically, it's helped.
Researchers have found that today's domesticated cats are a result of feral cats who existed thousands of years ago. In those ancient times, human farming communities attracted all sorts of delicious pests and rodents. They took notice and haven't left humans' sides ever since.
Cats Were Banned From The Vatican
The Vatican might be open to tourists and all devout followers of Catholicism, but cats are considered unwelcome. It all started with Pope Gregory IX, who hated cats so much, he considered them the embodiment of the devil.
Pope Innocent VIII took his place in the 1400's when witch crusades took over Western Europe. Because cats were associated with witches, they were officially excommunicated from the Vatican City.
Cats Cool Down By Licking Themselves
Biologically, humans produce sweat as a way for their bodies to cool down. While humans have sweat glands almost everywhere on the body, cats only have them in their paws.
But that doesn't mean cats' paws are working overtime to regulate their body heat. When your cat isn't sleeping, it's probably spending an excessive amount of time licking itself. But actually, as its saliva evaporates off its fur, your cat's body begins to cool down!
Cat Doors Might Be An Isaac Newton Invention
Many people credit physicist Sir Isaac Newton for having invented cat doors. Whether or not it's an urban legend, it apparently takes a genius to think that cats need their own tiny doors to walk through.
As the story goes, Newton was constantly interrupted by cats scratching at his door while at Cambridge. To fix this, he had the university carpenter saw holes into his door so the cats could just walk right through!
France Sent The First Cat Into Space
In 1963, France tried really hard to keep up with their American and Russian counterparts in the space race. With the first chimps and humans in orbit having already happened, the Centre national d'études decided to send the first cat into space!
Nicknamed "Astrocat," Félicette the cat was launched 130 miles into orbit on a liquid-fueled French Véronique AG1 rocket on October 24, 1963. Fécilette was chosen only after the first cat Félix went missing.
Cats Eat Grass For Relief
If you've ever been distressed over your lawn getting messed up because your cat has been eating all of the grass, you might find relief in the fact that it's actually helping your cat's health.
Cats graze on grass because it acts as a laxative for them. So the only reason they keep eating your grass is because they're trying to help things moving along smoothly. The added fiber helps worms and hair pass through their system faster.
Your Cat Kneads Its Paws When It's Content
It's adorable when your cat kneads its paws on you. There's isn't a precise reason as to why they feel the need to push their paws in and out on soft surfaces, but there are many theories.
The biggest theory is that kneading its paws is leftover behavior from its kittenhood. As kittens, cats will knead their paws into their mothers as a way to express contentment and help increase milk flow.
Cats Give Your Their Kill Because You're Bad At Hunting
People often hate when their cats leave their kills lying around. Finding a dead rodent or other small animal in the middle of the hallway has been the terror of many cat owners.
But when your cat leaves its dead prey lying around, they're actually trying to tell you how much you suck at hunting. This is something they've learned from their mothers who provided for them when she was teaching them to hunt.
Cats With Six Toes Are Named After Hemingway
There are some cats in the world born with six toes and they're called polydactyl cats. They are born with extra digits due to a genetic condition called polydactyly.
In the 1930's Ernest Hemingway was gifted a polydactyl kitten that he named Show White. At the time, Hemingway was living on the small island of Key West and as a result, the museum of his name is rampant with Snow White's descendants!
Lincoln Thought His Cat Was Smarter Than His Cabinet
One historical figure who didn't hate cats was Abraham Lincoln. He and Mary Todd Lincoln loved felines so much, they owned multiple cats when they lived in the White House.
Lincoln's cats were named Tabby and Dixie, but he often found strays and took them home with him. He was so fond of cats that during his first term he allegedly said, "Dixie is smarter than my whole cabinet! And furthermore, she doesn't talk back!"
Cats Can Taste Smells
Cats have an entire sensory organ in the roof of their mouth that essentially lets them taste their smells. Because cats have limited taste receptors, their hunger largely depends on their ability to smell.
This special organ in the roof of their mouth is called the vomeronasal organ or Jacobson's organ. It has ducts that lead to the mouth and nose, which helps your cat analyze scents more thoroughly.
Cats Are Good For Your Health
Cat lovers don't have to tell you twice about how great owning a feline is. But if you're still not convinced, there are actually health benefits to being a cat owner!
Cats are said to be heart-healthy pets because they require less effort than owning a dog. They also relieve stress and anxiety. People who own cats also have fewer allergies than those who don't. Also, they have a smaller carbon footprint than dogs!
Your Cat's Hairballs Can Be Fixed
The scientific term for a hairball is a trichobezoar, since a "bezoar" is a mass of something trapped in the gastrointestinal system. Cats spend an awfully long amount of time licking themselves, which sometimes leads to the accumulation of fur in the stomach. When that fur gets too big, it's often vomited.
If your cat has these issues, try grooming them more often to remove most of their fur. There are also special foods to help the hairball pass normally.
Cat Noses Are Like Human Fingerprints
Cats don't have fingerprints but there's something about their species that makes each cat individual from each other. The ridges and bumps on a cat's nose are unique to the cat, so their noses are pretty much like human fingerprints!
Indeed, cats' noses can be used as a form of identification if there were technology to achieve this. Microchipping is the current method, but the chips have the ability to fall out or malfunction.
Cats Might Be Smarter Than Dogs
This fact is bound to cause some controversy among dog lovers. According to Psychology Today, "the cerebral cortex of cats is greater and more complex compared to that of dogs. A cat's cerebral cortex contains about twice as many neurons as that of dogs. Cats have 300 million neurons, whereas dogs have about 160 million."
However, many animal experts believe that cats don't engage their impressive cognitive skills unless they "feel like it." That sounds about right.
Cats Can Be Left Or Right-Pawed
Just how humans have "handedness," most cats also tend to favor one paw over the other. Interestingly, handedness in cats (and humans!) seems to be related to their gender.
Male cats are more likely to be left-pawed while females are typically right-pawed. As New Scientist reports, "hormone levels could explain [these] differences in paw choice. Previous research has linked prenatal testosterone exposure to left-handedness. While studies of two other domestic animals, dogs, and horses, revealed similar... biases."
A Cat Was Trained As A Spy
We already knew cats were smart, but did you know that one was trained as a spy by the CIA? "Acoustic Kitty" was the name of the project launched in the 1960s. The goal was to use highly-trained cats to spy on the Kremlin and Soviet embassies.
The spy cat was surgically outfitted with a microphone, a radio transmitter, and a wire. Unfortunately, it was hit and killed by a car on its first mission and the $20 million project was scrapped soon after.
Raw Fish Can Be Bad For Cats
Since cats can be such picky eaters, we might assume that they know which foods are bad for them. But that's not always the case! In fact, one food that's strongly associated with cats -- raw fish -- is actually harmful to them. All those cartoons were wrong all along.
As a special treat every now and then, some tuna fish is probably not going to hurt your cat. But too much tuna, or any other raw fish, can have negative effects on your cat's health. It might contain bacteria that cause food poisoning.
Before Kitty Litter, People Used Sand And Ashes
This will come as no surprise to anyone who's witnessed a cat in a sandbox at the neighborhood park. They pretty much treat it as their own personal litter box. Back in the days before there was commercially-available litter, people used sand or ashes to deal with their pets’ waste.
Then Ed Lowe entered the scene in 1948. He suggested that his neighbor use clay minerals instead of the messy ashes she had been using, and "Kitty Litter" was born. When Lowe died in 1995, his company was worth half a billion dollars.
If Your Cat Doesn't Cover Its Mess, Here's What It Means
A cat that doesn't bury its mess in the litter box but instead leaves it completely uncovered is sending a clear sign: that it doesn’t fear their human companion (or other cats in the household) at all.
This behavior is the equivalent of marking their territory in the wild. In colonies of feral cats, the most dominant cats leave their waste uncovered. An unburied mess means that the territory is taken.
Cats Are Capable Of Detecting Cancer
How is this for amazing? At least one cat is credited for saving her human companion's life by detecting cancer. The black and white kitty, named Fidge, kept jumping onto owner Wendy Humphreys’ chest every night while she sat on the sofa.
When Wendy went to the doctor, a pea-sized lump was found, which she was told would have eventually killed her. In an interview with The Daily Mail, Wendy said "[Fidge] saved my life, definitely. No hesitation at all. I was told that if I hadn't been diagnosed when I was I could have died because of the hormones in the menopause."
There Are Millions Of Cats Without Forever Homes
Of the overwhelming cat population in the United States, only a handful are probably sent to shelters. Unfortunately, only 24% of cats who end up in shelters are adopted, which means that more than half of the shelter cat population is neglected.
If these cats don't get adopted, their next options are much worse. According to American Humane, 71% of cats in shelters end up euthanized. This is why adoption is so important!
Egyptians Mourned In An Unusual Way When A Cat Died
We're already well aware that cats were extremely important to the ancient Egyptians. A carving in the Valley of the Kings says, "You are the Great Cat, the avenger of the gods, and the judge of words, and the president of the sovereign chiefs and the governor of the holy Circle; you are indeed the Great Cat."
When a pet cat died in Egypt, its human family would go into a deep state of mourning. Part of their mourning ritual included shaving their eyebrows.
Hairless Cats Aren't Actually Bald
From a distance, "hairless" cats (which are called Sphynx cats) appear to be completely bald. But when you get closer, you can tell that they actually have a thin layer of downy fur covering their skin. You can see it in the above photo.
If you get the chance to pet a sphynx cat, you'll quickly realize that their bodies have a suede-y texture. These cats are popular with people who have allergies to breeds with longer hair.
Cats Can Squeeze Into Very Small Spaces
Many people who love cats are familiar with the phrase "if it fits, I sits. “Have you ever wondered how cats are able to squeeze themselves into some impossibly small spaces? It turns out that they have free-floating clavicle (shoulder) bones.
A cat is also incredibly flexible which is another way it's able to squeeze itself into little spots. This is a good thing, as a lot of cats feel more comfortable and secure in a small space.