Tom Carlson, from Head Cramp, writes: Although cats are extremely popular, not everyone realizes just how common they are. In the United States alone, there are more than 36 million of them living as pets. Despite this popularity, however, not many can tell you very much about the average house cat.
Sure, we all know they like to run around and cause a ruckus at 3 a.m. and that they’re descended from a common ancestor of bigger jungle cats, but that’s about it. With that in mind, it’s time to learn a thing or two about ole Whiskers!
Here are some of the most interesting facts about your cat that you would never have guessed…
2. If you love it when your cat rubs up against you, that’s great! But you should know that your cat does this to mark you with her scent, so everyone knows who it is you belong to!
3. In Ancient Egypt, killing a cat was considered illegal. Not only were felines thought to be holy and imbued with all sorts of important spirits, but they were helpful with catching rats!
4. A cat might have a smaller brains than that of a dog, but that doesn’t mean they’re less intelligent. In fact, their brains are more similar to ours, which is why they often have such complex personalities.
5. Though dogs may be the most popular pet in the United States, there are more cats in total. There are about 83 million cats across the country, compared to about 75 million dogs.
6. In order to save energy for their hunting, cats spend about 70% of their lives sleeping. This is why they seem to have so much energy in the middle of the night when they go on the “hunt!”
7. You might think that cats only meow to communicate with other cats, but that’s not totally true! Their meows are indeed attempts to talk to you, but you just don’t seem to want to listen!
8. Reportedly, one of the best things a single gentleman could do is own a cat. Not just for the company, either! Turns out, men who own cats are more lucky in love than those who do not.
9. Just like humans, cats are capable of being lactose intolerant. So while you might think the perfect snack for them is a saucer of milk, they might not actually be the biggest fans of it!
10. The average house cat is capable of reaching top speeds of up to 31 miles per hour in short bursts. That is fast enough to outrun sprinter Usain Bolt! Not too shabby for a tabby, huh?
11. There was a cat in Italy named Tommaso who was owned by a very wealthy 94-year-old woman. When she died, she left her entire $13 million fortune to him. Not a bad deal!
12. For the past 19 years, the town of Talkeetna, Alaska has had one of the most adorable mayors overseeing things. His name is Stubbs… and he’s a cute little cat. The town loves him!
13. Cats are excellent hunters. They’re also not able to taste anything sweet due to a lack of tastebuds for that sort of flavor. This is why they’re such big fans of savory meats!
14. You might already know your cat is quite loud, but you probably aren’t aware of just how vocal she can be! Cats have strong vocal chords that let them make up to 100 distinct sounds.
15. Cats are known for being independent creatures. It’s believed that domesticating them was more their doing than ours, as they realized we humans attracted all sorts of pests for them to have for dinner.
16. Cats are only truly able to sweat out of one body part: their paws. Not only that, but when they groom themselves, their saliva evaporates off of their fur, which cools them, not unlike how sweating cools humans.
17. Though it may just be a legend, many believe that it was Sir Isaac Newton, the famous physicist himself, who first designed and created the cat door. We like to think that it’s true!
18. Cats actually made it into space not long after we humans did. In 1963, a pair of them were sent into orbit, making “catstronauts” a potentially real-life profession for cats.
19. Supposedly, people who prefer cats are more introverted and independent than those who prefer dogs. This seems to mirror the personalities of the animals themselves, doesn’t it?
20. If you ever spot your cat munching on some grass, the reason is that grass is a natural laxative for them. It actually helps them pass those hairballs a little more quickly.
21. When your cat starts kneading you with her paws, it means that she is content. Basically, kittens learn to knead their mothers to show they’re comfortable and to help milk flow. How cute is that?
22. When your cat brings you a kill, they are essentially telling you that you suck at hunting. This is what a mother cat will do for her babies when she is providing for them and teaching them how to hunt for themselves.
23. Certain cats are born with extra pairs of toes on their paws. They’re referred to as Hemingway cats because they were beloved by author Ernest Hemingway. The real name for their condition is polydactyl.
24. In the 15th century, Pope Innocent VIII despised cats so much that he declared they all were possessed by demons and wanted them to all be killed. Harsh, bro.
25. President Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd, were huge cat lovers. During his time in the White House, they owned four cats. Add that to the list of reasons to love Lincoln!
26. Cats possess an extra sensory organ on the roof of their mouths that allow them to “taste” smells. In this way, they can almost literally taste the air. Pretty nifty, right?
27. Owning a cat is pretty great on its own, but studies say it could be good for your health. In fact, owning a cat could reduce the chances of having a stroke or heart attack by one-third!
28. There’s actually a more clinical term for hairball. The correct word is trichobezoar, which means “an indigestible ball made of hair in the gastrointestinal tract.” Weird!
29. Much like a human’s fingerprints, the ridges and bumps on a cat’s nose are totally unique to that cat. Looks like we know how we’ll be able to track any cat-based crimes in the future!
30. In the United States, only about 24% of cats living in shelters will be adopted. That means there are tons of them waiting for homes with open arms—er, paws. Go adopt them, people!