Whether you are an animal lover or just an observer, cats are fascinating animals to learn about. No matter what your familiarity with the animal may be, there are plenty of things that even seasoned pet owners don't know about their little companions. Here are 15 little-known facts about your feline friends.
1. The brain of a cat is 90% similar to ours.
Other than their cognitive similarities to us, their brains have other notable features too. A cat's cerebral cortex, which is responsible for processing information, is much more complex than their K-9 companions. Cats have around 300 million neurons compared to the 160 million that dogs typically have.
2. Cats can't taste sweet foods.
After examining two genes responsible for detecting sweeter tastes, researchers found that one of the genes wasn't quite complete enough to enable the animal to perceive a sweet taste from the food it was consuming. This doesn't mean cats avoid sweet foods, but they just eat them for qualities aside from their taste like their smell or even just their texture.
3. Purring isn't always a sign of happiness.
Research has shown that cats purr for various reasons aside from contentment. Not only can cats purr out of nervousness rather than happiness, but it may be a form of self-healing too. A cat's purr is somewhere between 25 and 150 Hertz, which happens to be the best frequency for both muscle and bone growth.
4. Cats are actually lactose intolerant.
Despite what every cartoon has shown you, cats shouldn't drink milk. Although it won't cause serious health problems, feeding a cat milk can lead to an upset stomach and some real discomfort for your feline friend.
5. They are more intelligent than you think.
Although cats on average have a lower social IQ than dogs do, studies show that they can solve significantly harder cognitive problems. Aside from their more complex brain structure, cats also tend to have longer lasting memories than dogs do.
6. Their intelligence comes with a little manipulation.
Because they are very smart creatures, they certainly use that to their advantage. Cats use things like doing figure-8s between your feet and even changing the sound of their meow to get what they want. Studies show that cats have the ability to mimic the tone of a crying baby with their meow just to tap into a human's biological need to nurture.
7. Instead of fingerprints, cats have nose-prints.
Much like the tips of our fingers, cats have patterns on their noses made up of a series of really tiny bumps and ridges. These bumps and ridges make up a pattern that is entirely unique to each cat. Like no two humans have the exact same fingerprint, no two cats have the same nose-print!
8. There are some cool statistics associated with "cat people."
Even though cats are the most popular pet in the United States, only about 11.5% of people actually consider themselves to be cat people. Cat people are more likely to be introverted and (oddly enough) are more open to new experiences. Cat people are also 17% more likely to have a graduate degree.
9. Bringing home a small animal isn't actually a present.
Despite what we want to think, having a "present" left on your doorstep isn't a compliment. Cats have no real need to hunt for themselves knowing they are regularly fed at home. Instead of hunting out of necessity, cats use this as a teaching opportunity. Much like adult cats do for their offspring, our cats hunt in an attempt to teach their humans how to properly hunt.
10. There is more to a cat than their coloring.
Even though we tend to associate dogs with their breeds, the same isn't normally true for cats. Contrary to this norm, there are actually over 70 different breeds of cats. Much like dogs, these breeds come with distinct personality traits as well as their specific physical characteristics.
11. Cats can drink salt water.
Although consuming salt water dehydrates the human body, cats have no problem drinking it. Cats have incredibly effective kidneys that allow them to essentially filter salt water in order to re-hydrate themselves.
12. Declawing isn't a painless practice.
Even though the procedure might not sound like much, it can actually be a pretty brutal process. Cats' nails grow out of their bones, and declawing requires a vet to actually cut of the end of a cat's toe. This would be similar to cutting a human finger off at the first knuckle. For this reason, this practice is banned in many countries and remains a debated issue in the animal community.
13. Having nine lives isn't quite a myth.
There are instances of cats falling over 32 stories and surviving due to an innate talent that all cats possess. The lightning reflex allows cats to always land on their feet. Cats have a unique balancing system in their inner ear that allows them to determine the position of their body relative to the ground. In addition to this reflex, cats have a really light bone structure and thick fur which can slow down their speed when falling, which makes for a safer impact.
14. Cats can have paw preferences.
Just like humans can be left-handed or right-handed, cats are either left-pawed or right-pawed. Interestingly enough, this is usually divided among gender lines. Male cats are overwhelmingly left-pawed and female cats are overwhelmingly right-pawed.
15. They have more bones than humans do.
Compared to the 206 bones that the human body has, a cat has a total of 230 bones. Nearly 10% of a cat's bones are located in their tail alone. Additionally, cats have 30 vertebrae and 500 skeletal muscles.
Cats are truly exceptional and unique creatures. The more you know about your furry friend, the better companion or owner you can be.