22 Random Facts About Cats

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Cats are an interesting bunch; there is no doubt about that. They have their own little idiosyncrasies that make them far more interesting than any other pet that you might keep. Some of these quirky facts are common knowledge, while there are also those most people haven’t heard about.

Today, we will be looking at the craziest 22 feline facts that most people don’t know about, even among cat lovers and cat owners. Some are bizarre, some are scary, some are unreal. They are all interesting.

1. The Best Mouser Killed Almost 30,000 Mice

While today’s cats are nowhere near as active and as hunting-prone as their ancestors, they can still turn into mouse-killing machines if trained and left to do what their instincts tell them to. For instance, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and Disneyland still use cats to take care of their mice and rat problems.

The best mouser cat, however, patrolled the Famous Grouse whisky distillery in Crieff, Scotland. Her name was Towser and in her almost-24 years, she killed around 29,000 mice. This was confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records. The long-haired tortoiseshell truly took care of the mice situation for decades, keeping the distillery mice-free using her superior hunting skills.

Her successor, Amber, was not as successful. Not even close. Despite having almost the same-length tenure, she managed to kill zero mice. Not a single mouse. Zilch. Nada.

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2. Cat Sex Is A Nasty Business

There is absolutely nothing romantic when it comes to cats’ sex lives. It is pure biology at its rawest. It causes unfixed female cats to yowl and agonize when not able to get outside and get their share of action. It causes male cats to fight each other like MMA fighters for the opportunity to have a go at local female felines. It causes people to tremble in their beds listening to screams and howls of neighborhood cats that sound like demons from hell.

However, nothing compares to the horror that is the actual sex act. Namely, the male cat’s penis (as if there is another kind) features backward-facing barbs that absolutely rake the inside of the lady cat’s vagina as sex is taking place.

Experts say this stimulates ovulation. We only hope they are right and it serves some purpose.

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3. Many Cats Are Lactose Intolerant

The sight of a cat lapping up a bowl of milk is one that has become ingrained in our culture as much as that of a dog with a bone or a rabbit with a carrot. And really, cats adore milk. They love nothing more than having a nice cold bowl of milk that they will gulp down in matter of milliseconds.

However, many times, it will not go that great.

Namely, just like a certain percentage of humans, a number of cats will stop producing lactase, an enzyme needed to properly break down milk. Such cats, after a big bowl of milk, will turn their litter box into a particularly nasty kind of ground zero next time they go. It goes without saying that you will deny your lactose intolerant cat milk in the future once this happens. Perhaps it will go for something else instead?

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4. Cats Can Be Heroes Too

Most people believe that heroism is reserved for dogs and that cats couldn’t care less if something happens to their owners, let alone strangers. In reality, there are plenty of stories about cats who gladly took on the role of the hero.

For instance, in 2012, a cat saved the life of its diabetic owner by waking the lady up from her diabetic seizure, biting at her face and nudging her to awake. The cat also did everything in its power to wake the lady’s son so he can call for help.

Perhaps an even more staggering story is the one of a pack of feral cats that helped an abandoned child survive by keeping him warm during the night and bringing him food to nourish him. Moreover, when the police finally found the child, the cats went into a defensive stance and hissed at the cops.

So, yeah.

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5. Cats Can Wreak Havoc On Ecosystems

We are not trying to be mean or anything with this entry on our list. We love cats and we are in fact giving our readers knowledge that they can act upon. More precisely, they can learn that they should never abandon their cat in the wild. If for nothing else, then for the local ecosystems which can be decimated by your cuddly kitty.

Namely, cats have been put on the list of 100 worst non-native invasive species in the world. This means that when they are introduced into an ecosystem where they do not appear naturally, they can cause quite a bit of damage. In other news, cats have been found to have contributed to the disappearance of 33 bird, reptile and mammal extinctions on islands around the globe.

In short, kitties should stay home where they will not make entire species extinct.

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6. Declawing Is Not Nice

While declawing is quite common in most of the United States, in the rest of the developed world it is not only frowned upon, but actually illegal. For instance, Israel, Japan, Brazil and the largest part of Europe have all made it illegal to declaw cats.

The reason for this is pure common sense. Namely, the cat’s nails grow straight out of the bone and the veterinarian who does the declawing actually cuts off the end of the toe. Imagine if someone decided to remove everything past the first knuckles on your hands. You wouldn’t really go for that, would you?

Well, that is what declawing is and we thought you might want to know before you make a decision. It is up to you. Try to weigh the “benefits” of declawing your kitty with the horrors that your cat will go through in order to be declawed.

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7. Cats Are Better Off Falling From 7th Floor And Up

Cats love heights. They don’t mind heights and they are actually quite attracted to them. Unfortunately, they are also quite prone to becoming relaxed at great heights and when they fall asleep or are startled, they can fall. Which brings us to one of the more random and weird facts on our list.

Namely, it has been determined that cats far much better when they fall from the 7th floor and upwards. They get more hurt when they fall from the sixth floor than when they fall from the tenth, for instance.

The proposed reason for this is that after 6 floors of falling, they reach terminal velocity and they instinctively relax, causing less severe injuries. Another solution for this peculiar fact is the possibility  that cats which fall from higher up end up dead and are not brought to veterinarians to become part of the statistic.

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8. The CIA Used Cats As Spies

The Cold War was as silly as it was serious and we have all heard stories about the CIA, KGB and other spy agencies coming up with all kinds of dumb stuff to gain the upper hand. One of these stories is about the CIA attempting to use cats as spies.

The geniuses from the agency put microphones in one cat’s ear canal, and antennae running down its back to its tail. They topped everything off with a transmitter which was inserted in a cat. The cat was then supposed to eaves-drop on a conversation that would be recorded and transmitted.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), the batteries were quite big back then and could not keep the equipment running for long. Also, the cat didn’t like having all of that equipment on it and it scratched and licked it. The training didn’t go any better and after spending $20 million, the CIA gave up on the idea.

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9. Whiskers Are Extremely Important

Whiskers are not just an ornament on a cat’s face. They are actually extremely important for the cat’s sense of orientation and overall sensory mechanism. When cats lose their whiskers, they become disoriented, they misjudge distances and can have troubles walking in a straight line.

The reason for this is that cats depend greatly on their whiskers to perceive the physical world around them. Namely, the whiskers and the muscles tissue around the whisker follicles are so sensitive that cats can feel the slightest changes in air pressure, giving them an accurate picture of the world around them even when there’s absolutely no light around.

We are talking such sensitivity that cat’s whiskers can feel the air circulating around furniture in a closed room. Combine this with their far-sightedness and it becomes obvious they are lost without their whiskers. Totally lost.

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10. Water Next To Food? No Thanks.

If you just got a cat and you are trying to train it (learning to live with it) you might have noticed that it does not like it when you place the water bowl next to its food. It refuses to drink from it until it is separated from the food. Seems strange, right? Seems really strange.

In fact, it is not strange at all. Namely, cats used to be hunters, meaning that they ate what they killed. And when there is a dead animal near water, the water is no good as it becomes contaminated when bacteria get in the water. It is pure genetic memory and pure biology.

Of course, you can teach your cat to overcome this instinct and most owners do it. Still, it is a cool fact and we wanted to share it with you.

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11. Black Cats Weren’t Always Bad Luck

The superstition that a black cat brings bad luck is so ingrained in our culture that it feels it has been with us forever. In fact, it was not until the medieval ages and the whole witch hunt thing that black cats got bad reputation.

One of the main reasons was that stray cats were usually cared for by lonely elderly women who were often targets of witch rumors. It is also believed that one particular story contributed to black cats becoming associated with witches and therefore bad luck.

It is a story about a father and son who threw rocks at a black cat one night (because that’s what guys did back then) while on the road and they near killed it. The cat went into a house and the next day, the rock-throwing duo noticed an old woman limping outside of the house, with the injuries in the same places as those caused by their hobby.

Whatever.

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12. Not All Cats Go Berserk For Catnip

If you ever saw a cat going crazy over catnip, you will never forget the sight. It is like something out of cartoons. The cat goes literally berserk, jumping around, meowing like crazy, playing with it, sniffing it and perhaps even eating it, which is often followed by a nap. It’s just incredible.

Catnip is actually a herb from the mint family and the main culprit for the cats’ behavior is a chemical known as nepetalactone. The scientists are still not 100% sure about why it has such an effect on cats, but the fact is it does.

Except it doesn’t on about a third of cats. Namely, around 30% of cats couldn’t care less for catnip. It has been established that it is a genetic thing, but once again, no one knows why some cats don’t respond to it at all.

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13. 5 + 4 Toes

If you own a cat, you might have noticed this, or you may have not. Cats have five tows on their front paws and four toes on their back paws; or, their front paws are human and their back paws are from The Simpsons.

That is, unless they have polydactyly. Polydactyly is a condition where a paw, or a hand or a foot has more toes than usually. For instance, it was rumored that Marilyn Monroe had six toes on one foot before she had it chopped off.

Polydactyly is actually quite common in cats, especially in certain areas such as parts of the UK and Northeastern United States. The genetic causes are too complex for us to explain, but it has to do with genetics. Many cats in aforementioned parts of the world have up to 8 toes and these cats have their own names, such as boxing cats, conch cats, Hemingway cats or Boston thumb cats.

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14. Feral Cats And Stray Cats Are Not The Same

For most of us, the terms feral cats and stray cats are interchangeable and they are supposed to describe domestic cats that live “in the wild” without an owner. In reality, there is a distinction between these two types and if you want to be an educated cat person, you should be aware of it.

Stray cats are the cats most people think about when they use either of the two terms – they are cats which have been abandoned by the owner and which fend for themselves. Feral cats are descendants of cats that are left behind by people traveling.

They can be a huge problem in some areas since they are not supposed to be a part of that particular ecosystem. This is particularly dangerous for “isolated” ecosystems such as islands where they have been known to cause species to become extinct.

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15. Cats Don’t Need To Drink Water

There is a theory that cats were originally desert animals and the fact that speaks in favor of this theory is that cats do not need to actually drink water to survive. They can get all the water they require for normal functioning from uncooked meat. They get enough moisture from it.

This is due to their specific build which conserves water as well as Stillsuits from Dune. Their faces are extremely dry, they have a highly concentrated urine, they do not sweat as they have other ways of regulating their body temperature. They can also tolerate temperatures much higher than those humans can.

And as if this was not weird enough, cat’s kidneys are actually capable of filtering seawater, meaning that cats can drink seawater in order to hydrate. There is something really weird going on with cats and water.

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16. Cats Sleep A Lot. A Lot.

One of the first things that dog people use to illustrate how cats are boring and inferior pets is the amount of sleep that cats get over the course of a day. And we have to give it to them. Cats do sleep a lot. They sleep A LOT. It has been calculated that cats spend around 70 percent of their lives sleeping, which comes out to around 16 hours every day.

The first reason why cats sleep that much is an environmental one. Namely, cats never had to worry too much about predators and enemies, being predators themselves. In essence, they have peace of mind when sleeping.

Also, cats use up copious amounts of energy when active – meaning when they are hunting or playing. They exert themselves much more than dogs, for instance (take that dog lovers!) and they need more sleep to recover.

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17. Old Cats Can Develop Dementia

Many owners whose cats reach a certain age notice that their cat begins to meow much more as it gets older. The reason for this is not something that you will really want to hear, but it is something you should learn about anyway.

Namely, cats can develop a kind of dementia as they get older, something called Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome. CDS is very similar to dementia or Alzheimer’s that affects some people in their advanced age. The cats’ memory gets worse, as well as some other functions and it all leads to anxiety and discomfort that they express by meowing, among other things.

The condition is more pronounced at night time because their sleeping patterns and their body temperature regulation are disturbed. Understanding the problem is the first step towards mitigating it and providing your cat with high quality of life in advanced age.

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18. Cats’ Purring Is Pure Manipulation

Cats aren’t only smart intentionally. It seems that they are smart “on the inside” as well, on a very perfidious and quite cool level, actually. We are talking about purring here, a mode of communication which is aimed specifically at humans, believe it or not.

Namely, purring has developed as a way of getting humans to do something cats want – mostly give them food and take care of them. The way in which cats “accomplished” this was by developing a mode of communication that hits the same audio frequency as the cry of an infant.

There is nothing we can do about it. It is pure manipulation and taking advantage of the nurturing instincts that humans as a species have. While this has been proven with a significant amount of certainty, there is also a lot that indicates purring might also be a way of self-soothing and self-healing.

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19. Cats Hiss To Mimic Snakes

Before we start talking about this, we would like you to know that this is a theory that yet needs to be confirmed but that certainly has a sound logic behind it. Namely, some scientists believe that the hissing that cats produce mostly when scared is meant to mimic the hissing that snakes produce.

The cats know very well that no one messes with snakes and that the hissing is the trademark snake sound. Therefore, producing the same sound might scare the attackers away. As cats became domesticated, their fears became more human and “postmodern”, becoming more akin to annoyance and discomfort than actual fear.

Still, the audio result is the same – hissing. If you want to avoid the hissing, it is important to slowly introduce your cat to stuff that may cause it to become disturbed, annoyed or angry.

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20. Cats Were First Domesticated In China

If you do enough research, you come to a conclusion that everything started in China at least a thousand years before anywhere else. The latest such research concerns cats, or more precisely their domestication. While most previous studies agreed that Ancient Egyptians were the first to “domesticate” cats, it now seems that this actually happened in China, more than a thousand years before.

According to the 2013 study done at Washington University in St. Louis, there is data which would suggest that cats first started living with humans in a village called Quanhucun in China. In tune with previous studies, the cats were attracted by the vermin which was in turn attracted by crops grown by the village.

In conclusion, the mechanism of “domestication” is the same one studies determined previously, only the time and the place are different.  Once again, it all goes back to China.

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21. Cats Spend Half Their Lives Grooming Themselves

Cats are definitely among the fanciest animals around, at least judging by the time they spend grooming themselves. This is according to the Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine whose team studied grooming habits of cats and discovered that they spend between 30 and 50 percent of their waking hours cleaning themselves.

If you spent that much time grooming yourself, you would be in the bathroom for 8 hours a day, minimum.

It is important to point out that grooming is not just about looking great for cats. It is also about cooling themselves off, stimulating their circulation and removing any odors that might cause predators to come looking for them. It also acts as a way of comforting themselves at times of stress.

If your cat starts spending time grooming you, you can rest assured you are one of her people.

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22. Senses – Cats Vs. Humans

Cats’ senses are simply incredible and in many ways they seem supernatural. When compared to cats, we are almost blind, deaf and whatever the names are for the lack of other senses.

For instance, while we can hear frequencies of up to 20,000 hertz, cats can hear sounds in frequencies around 100,000 hertz. In essence, this means they can hear ultrasounds, which comes in handy since many rodents communicate in ultrasound frequencies. Cats also have 40 times more odor-sensitive cells in their nostrils than humans.

We have already covered what superhero powers cats’ whiskers possess and they alone are enough to make them clear winners in the touch sense category as well. Cats are also dramatically superior to us when it comes to sight as well, especially in the dark where they see perfectly fine even if it is almost pitch dark. They are far-sighted, though.

The only category where we win is taste, with cats possessing a much smaller number of taste buds than humans. It is a well-known fact, for instance, that cats cannot taste sweet.

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