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10 More Crazy Facts You (Probably) Didn't Know About Cats

Updated on April 29, 2014

Paws

Cats are handed, that is, cats are either right pawed (usually female) or left pawed (usually male). Cats are considered digitigrades which means that they walk exclusively on their toes instead of the soles of the feet. This means that declawing is actually considered to be dangerous as it is actually removing the first joint in the toe. That's right, declawing actually removes a bone and part of the toe! The technical name for the procedure is onychectomy and it is illegal in most European countries, Israel, and Brazil as it is considered an act of animal cruelty. Cats that are declawed are also likely to stop using the litter box later in life as removal of the toe becomes painful later on.

Hating Water

Not all cats hate water, some cats, like the Turkish Van, actually enjoy a good swim now and then. Cats whose ancestors lived in the more humid areas are likely to tolerate water better as they would go swimming to cope with the harsh summer heat. These guys aside, you are likely to get a few scratches when you try to plunge kitty into the tub. This is due to a few factors. It is believed that the main reason is because when the fur becomes completely saturated the cat is weighed down, and being animals that pride themselves on being light on their feet this is a great disturbance to them. It is also believed that cats are extremely sensitive to the smell of chemicals in tap water.

Famous Cat Lovers

Many famous people have been cat lovers, this is just a few of them. Sir Isaac Newton invented the cat door! He did this so his beloved pets would have access to his lab even when he was not there. Abraham Lincoln was such a fan of cats that when asked if he had any hobbies his wife would reply with "cats". His cat, Tabby, was reported to be the first cat in the White House. Throughout her life, Florence Nightingale owned 60 cats. She once stated "cats possess more feeling and sympathy than people". Mark Twain had many cats with names like Trray Kit, Sin, Appollinaris and Sour Mash. Other reported cat lovers include Russell Brand, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Tina Fey, James Franco, and even Christopher Walken has a soft spot for our feline friends.

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Coloration

A cats coloring can tell you a lot about them, for example, white cats are usually deaf and white cats with blue eyes are even more prone to be deaf. Cats that have one blue eye will usually be deaf in the ear on the side with the blue eye due to a deformity. A cats color can also indicate a lot about it's personality, for example, red (orange) and cream colored cats are more likely to panic and struggle when held by a stranger. If a cat has three or more colors it is female unless a genetic deformity has occurred, therefore calico cats are almost always female. Male cats will have one or two colors only. Orange cats are usually male as the X chromosome is responsible for the orange coloring.

Vocal Communication

No one is quite sure how cats meow, the reason for the confusion is because they do not have any unique anatomical feature n that is obviously responsible for this unique ability. Large cats (tigers, jaguars, lions etc...) can also purr although only when they are exhaling. Cats do not meow at each other, only to their mother or humans when they desire attention. It is believed that the ability to meow is a trait that evolved as cats became domesticated. The frequency at which a cat meows is around the same a baby that is crying, hence it is believed to be mostly for human benefit.

Sight

Unlike we tend to believe, cats cannot see in the dark. However their pupils do take in more light which lets them see much better in the dark, they need roughly 1/7th the amount of light humans need in order to see. Humans have a 180˚ field of vision, whereas cats have 200˚. They can tell the difference between red, blue and yellow as well as red and green. They are also able to distinguish between blues and violets. If you have ever noticed the gross white coating over the eye on your cat it is called the nictitating membrane. It closes from the side and usually only shows if a cat is sick or sleepy and veterinarians recommend bringing your cat in if it showing for an extended period of time.

Visual Communication

Cats use their eyes as an important source of information to other cats. The changes often happen so quickly that humans can't catch it. Round pupils mean fear, oblong is excitement and the larger the pupil is the more intense the emotion. While it also mean a cat is happy or confident, walking into a room with the tail straight up in the air is considered a friendly greeting to both humans and other animals. Kittens will lift the tail straight up except for the tip which will bend into an "n" shape, this indicates extreme excitement. Breeds that have only a tail stub will still move it around as if they have a full tail. Whiskers pointed forward are also a good indicator of contentment or curiosity.

Mating

Female cats in heat will often focus single mindedly on getting out of the house in order to mate. The female (called a queen) will take the lordosis posture, which is head down, rear up and tail raised to the side, her back legs will also move as though she is walking in place. The male cat will bite her on the back of the neck to assert his dominance, it is also believed that this may stimulate the part of the queens brain that causes her to ovulate. Cats have barbed penises (sort of like a fish hook), when the male pulls out of the female the penis scrapes the inside of the female which tends to cause the queen to scream in pain (this is why mating cats are so loud). This signals the queens body to begin ovulation.

Hearing & Smell


Cats can hear at ranges above both humans and dogs. The ears are designed to be able to swivel in any direction in order to pinpoint the direction a sound is coming from. Due to this, a cat can judge within three inches where a sound is coming from when it is up to three feet away. The average house cat has a sense of smell 14 times stronger than that of a human. They have a sensory organ on the roof of the mouth called the vomeronasal organ (or Jacobson's organ after the man who discovered this). That is why when a cat is trying particularly hard to smell something they will open their mouth and stick out the tongue. This is called flehming, or the Flehmen response. Until recently it was believed that dogs had a much stronger sense of smell than cats, however new research has shown that cats have around 200 million more scent receptors than dogs.

History

Cats were first captured and brought into homes between 10,000 & 12,000 years ago. This estimate is due to two factors, one is ancient skeletons found buried along with their felines and also because that is around when humans first started to settle down. While humans were hunting and gathering they would need dogs to help hunt and keep them safe, but once we started to settle down we needed cats to keep the smaller critters away from grain stores and the like. It is believed that cats more or less domesticated themselves as they realized that the grain stores had an abundance of prey for them and that the people in the area would gladly feed and water them in order to keep them around. Cats are now the most common house pet in the US with about 90 million of them in about 34% of households!

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