Written by Manya Pandey, a first-year undergraduate student.
Cats are phenomenally skilled creatures. To count just some of the numerous skills; they are mysterious, smart and flexible. In short, they are the absolute definition of grace on four legs but there’s a lot more to them than meets the eye. In this article, you’ll find all the fun facts about cats and know all about them.
Did you know? Cats eat mice and other meat because they can’t taste sweetness.
Us humans and all other animals have DNA pieces called genes that control most of our bodily functions directly or indirectly. Unfortunately, cats are missing the translation of one of these genes that helps in detecting sweetness.
What does the translation of genes mean?
It simply means that tastebuds for detecting sweetness are present on a cat’s tongue but the proteins which transfer that taste to the brain are absent. Some scientists believe this is the very reason the cat family turned carnivorous. Grass and plants primarily have a starchy/ sugary taste and cats can’t taste that hence they opted for a high-protein meat diet. Fortunately, meat can stimulate its other receptors.
They were once all wild
Cats have always been shrouded in mystery but were not always domestic, they probably began entering human colonies due to an increase in rodents (creatures with long front teeth such as mice, squirrels and hamsters).
It was believed that their domestication began in ancient Egypt around 4 thousand years ago but recent archaeological studies have shown that cat domestication occurred way before in Western Asia around 7500 BC.
They are solitary hunters but very social animals
While the exact origin of their domestication might still be under debate, we can all agree that they are charismatic, flexible and quick animals. Moreover, they love grooming themselves.
Cats might be solitary hunters but they are highly social animals they indulge in a ritual called allogrooming, wherein they groom other cats as well! Here’s what allgrooming, also called social grooming means – it’s when social animals clean or maintain one another’s body or appearance.
In short, there’s more to them than meets the eye.
Did you know cats always land on their feet? Always!
Cats have what is called the cat righting reflex. It is a natural inborn reflex that enables a cat to orient its body into the normal four-footed position. This reflex is also present in humans as the righting reflex or the labyrinthine righting reflex but it is not as advanced. In cats, this reflex begins to develop when they are 3 to 4 weeks old and they get a complete hold of it at around 2 months old. Cats can master it to such a great extent -as they have a very flexible backbone and are born without a restrictive collar bone. Wasn’t that one of the greatest fun facts about cats?
Here’s one more..
Cat’s eyes glow in the dark. Here’s how…
Cats have a peculiar reflective structure called a tapetum lucidum. -It is present in most nocturnal animals right behind the retina. It reflects back the received light and therefore enhances vision- it is what gives that glowing effect to their eyes. (yes, it’s spooky!)
Some more amazing information about cats
Cats have a sharp sense of smell. They can hear ultrasonic sounds from 55 Hertz to 79 kilohertz. Their hearing is also improved with their movable pinna(the outer part of the ear).
Their whiskers are not just hair, they are amazing sensory organs that help them create a 3-D image of their surroundings. They also have retractable claws which are perfect for small prey such as mice. Here are some more fun facts about cats.
Top 20 Fun Facts About Cats In 2022
1. Cats’ tongues are like combs
Cats are famously known for grooming themselves by licking off their fur clean, which is probably why they have very special tongues. The cat’s tongue has many hard and tiny spines called papillae.
These look like small bristles going backwards and have keratin in them which makes them extra strong. In a nutshell, these papillae act like built-in hairbrush. Sometimes cats even vomit out the hairballs, they might have collected in their stomachs. This problem is more prevalent with long-haired cats.
2 Cats can’t suck water so they have a very unusual way of drinking
Cats’ cheeks are not designed in a way to facilitate sucking which makes drinking a little absurd for them. They drink by licking the water upwards at quick speeds by using their tongues. The rate of lapping is about four times a second, which makes it 240 times per minute. What happens is–the cat rests its smooth tongue on the water surface and rapidly draws it back like a spring.
3. Cats hate water because it makes them an easy catch for predators!
Cats are very picky about the things they like but that’s not why they hate water. Cats absolutely abstain from water because it’s extremely uncomfortable for a cat to have wet fur. Moreover, it takes a long time to dry and it’s heavier to run with! Which makes them very vulnerable to nearby hunters.
5. Cats have neophobia – the fear of new things.
Cats tend to reject new foods and toys. This response is called neophobia. Due to this cats often memorise the flavours that didn’t taste good and immediately recognise the food items that were unpleasant in the past.
6. Many cats are lactose intolerant
Yes, cats drink milk, but the truth is that many of them are allergic to dairy. Question is – then why do they drink milk? Experts say it’s because they get attracted because of the fats and protein that they smell in dairy products.
It is a common misconception that cats like milk. It was probably inserted in our minds from cat and mouse animated series like Tom and Jerry(have you heard about it?) Cats tend to avoid dairy products like milk and cream because lactose (the sugar present in milk) is hard to digest and may cause stomach issues such as diarrhoea.
7. House cats share 95.6% of their DNA with tigers
It’s probably one of the most mind-boggling fun facts about cats. We all knew they are somehow related to the big cats but a study revealed that most of their genetic makeup is similar to tigers. They also share similar behaviours including marking(it’s a technique wherein animals mark their territories by rubbing or urinating within certain areas or spots)
8. The oldest cat in the world was 38 years old and a dropper full of red wine is the secret!
The average lifespan of a domestic cat is 15 years. Now imagine how bizarre of a record this is. The legendary cat was named Creme Puff and it passed away at 38 years and 3 days old on 6th August 2005. It was born on 3rd August 1967.
The cat’s owner Jake Perry also owned the previous oldest cat named Grandpa Rex Allen, who passed away at the astounding age of 34! That’s not all Jake Perry claims to have fed his puff a dropperful of red wine every two days. He says that’s the secret to its long life. Now tell me if that’s not the most unsettling fun facts about cats you’ve ever heard!
9. Kittens have low vision but a superhuman sense of smell.
Kittens much like other mammal babies are born with their eyes closed but they have a very sharp sense of smell that sharpens even more and by the time they are 4 weeks old, they have a fully developed sense of smell with a vomeronasal organ( also known as Jacobson’s organ).
It connects the mouth and nose by a single duct and basically acts as a fume analyser. It also helps in detecting cat pheromones( these are certain cat chemicals which help them in detecting their homes, mothers or partners by smell)
10. Cats walk in a sequence—right foot first
A cat walks on its toes and its walking sequence is both right feet first, followed by both left feet, so they move half of their body forward at once. Camels and giraffes are the only other animals to walk this way. This way of movement cancels out the noise usually made while walking.
10. Some cats have extra toes, they are called polydactyl cats.
Most cats have 18 toes, 5 on their front paws and 4 on their back paws but polydactyl cats may have up to nine toes on either of their front or back paws. This condition may be caused by a gene mutation(a certain change or deletion in DNA) or it may be inherited.
Some quick fun facts about cats
11. If a cat falls from a higher floor, it is likely to survive more than if it fell from a lower one.
It’s true – cats’ bodies, say, scientists and vets, are built to survive high falls. They have, what’s called, an aerial righting reflex – which these animals that were meant to live in trees have.
Cats can thus spread their legs out to create a sort of parachute effect and land safely. When they land, cats’ muscular legs essentially act as shock absorbers.
Also, if given the time (as in when falling from a higher point) cats twist their bodies like skydivers and spin their tails. They position their feet under their bodies and land on them.
12. There is a cat named Digda that can perform 24 tricks in one minute!
Even humans can’t do that many within a minute but this cat can. The tricks include rolling over, sitting, and even bizarre ones like jumping a bar while gliding on a skateboard!
13. In 1963 a cat went to space
Monkeys, dogs, and later cats have joined space missions too. A cat named Filicette was sent on a one-way journey to space on October 18th, 1963. She was the first and only ‘Astro-cat’ in history to have done that.
15. Did you know?
Cats can regulate their body temperature like all other mammals. One of the ways they conserve energy is by reducing blood flow to the skin. And they cool down by releasing heat from evaporation through their mouths. Another bizarre fun facts about cats are that their sweat glands are located in their paws.
16. A cat was the Mayor of an Alaskan town for 2 decades
A cat named Stubbs was made the honorary mayor, of a historic district named Talkeetna in Alaska on 12 April 1997. The cat was a huge tourist attraction, it didn’t even have a tail. Scrubs served as the mayor till her death on 21 July 2017. They say, every afternoon Scrubs went for a catnip shot in a nearby restaurant. Catnip is a plant that super excites cats quite like hallucinogens.
17. Ancient Egyptians would shave off their eyebrows when their cats died
According to the ancient philosopher, Herodotus when a pet cat died in Ancient Egyptian times the family members had to shave off their eyebrows in mourning. Ancient Egyptians even mummified their pet cats to take along on their journey to the afterlife because their culture viewed animals as incarnations of gods.
But there was another reason and it’s yet another fun fact about cats – Ancient Egyptians believed cats brought good luck to the people who kept them. And, believe this, the rich actually dressed their cats in jewels and fed them royal treats!
18. The richest cat in the world had 13 million dollars
Tommaso, a cat who lives in Italy inherited 13 million dollars after her owner Maria Assunta passed away. Ms. Assunta found Tommaso, a black cat, on her way back home and before she died at the age of 94, she willed all of her fortunes to either the cat or an animal welfare charity that would look after the cat. Aso-no suitable charity could be found, the money now lies in a trust founded by her nurse
19. Some more interesting bits of information about cats
- Cat breeders are called catteries. and a group of kittens is called a “kindle.”
- Cats usually sleep around an average of 15 hours daily.
Types of cats
Do you know? The International Cat Association (TICA) currently recognises 73 standardized breeds of cats. It is an American organisation that registers and approves different types of cats( breeds), it’s considered the largest cat registry around the globe. For now, we will only discuss domestic breeds of cats, and here’s a list of some interesting types of cats.
1. Tuxedo Cat
That’s the cat breed that inspired the famous non-fiction character of Tom cat in the cartoon series: Tom and Jerry. A tuxedo cat is named so because it seems to be wearing a tuxedo (a black and white formal attire). It is also called the Felix cat or the Julius cat.
2. British Shorthair
It’s a traditional British domestic cat and has a distinct thick coat with the locally popular “British Blue” colour. This cat has an unusually stocky body and orange eyes.
It is one of the most ancient cat breeds and was also the inspiration for the illustration of Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland (a famous book by Lewis Carroll)
3. Sphynx Cat
The Sphynx cat is also known as the Canadian sphynx. Its most distinctive feature is its hairless body encrusted with wrinkles and patches of fuzzy peach skin. Their hairlessness is a result of a genetic mutation. It’s named after a mythical creature in Egyptian culture that had a lion’s body and a human head.
These cats have webbed feet and tend to lose more body heat because the fur barrier that restores body heat, found in the other cats, is missing in their case. Thus they feel warm to the touch and like staying in warm places.
There are many different types of cats around the world and all of them deserve love and care.
Love cats? Tell us about your cat in the comments!
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