Cats have been around longer than humans, so we haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly when in history they were first domesticated. We assume that the domestication of cats began approximately 10,000 years ago. Halfway between then and now, domesticated cats were worshipped in Ancient Egypt. Today, they continue to be a loved animal for all that they are.
Cats are fascinating little creatures. Every cat owner is sure to have a question or two about its cat’s behavior since we are often left wondering why they do the things they do. Why do cats constantly meow the second you get home? Why are there videos all over the internet of cats jumping in fear at the sight of cucumbers? Why do cats eat grass and then throw it all up? Why does your kitty friend bring you small dead mammals as a present when it returns home? The list of questions can do on and on!
While cats are undeniably adorable, they are also quite strange. From their funny behaviors to their hunter tendencies, cats have learned to amaze us and confuse us at the same time. It’s these strange things about them that set them apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, fascinating us each day. Are you curious to find out more about your cat? This list provides you with interesting facts about these mysterious felines, from their fears to their body compositions.
10They Only Meow to Speak to Humans
Although cats cannot speak our human language, they do have a variety of ways to communicate. Their type of vocalization comes out in different kinds of meowing, but do you know what each of them means? Well, even experts in feline research aren’t sure, because we haven’t yet figured out just how many sounds a cat can make. Currently, it is estimated that cats can emit over 100 different types of sounds. However, many of these are grouped into similar categories – they can be broken down into 11 different vocalizations, which cats use to speak to us.
There is no specific meaning for a cat’s meow, as there are so many possibilities as to why a cat would want their owner to look at them. However, we can interpret what a cat wants to express by paying attention to the tone, intensity, and frequency of the meow. Like with humans, we can also try to read a cat’s body language to figure out what it is trying to tell us.
Cats meow when they see you as a way to welcome you – they’re doing it just to say hello! Other times, cats meow at their owners to let them know they need something or when they are surprised by something. To none of our surprise, cats also meow if they are bored. If this is happening a lot, make sure your cat has things to keep them amused in your home.
9Cats Are Afraid of Cucumbers
This may sound like a strange fact at first. You are probably wondering: how on earth do we know this? Well, one of the recent videos to go viral on the internet is of a cat jumping in fear when it sees a cucumber. This first video led many cat owners to start taking their own videos of their cats’ reactions to cucumbers, and almost all of them end with the cat running away. What seems like a funny video chain may not be as amusing as we assume
Cats seem actually to find this vegetable terrifying, so putting it in front of your cat might very well be traumatizing it. Jill Goldman, an animal behaviorist, theorizes that the reason these cats find this green vegetable so scary is that they are mistaking it for a snake, which is one of the deadliest predators in the wild. Another theory about why cats are jumping up when faced with cucumbers in these videos is because it catches them by surprise.
Dr. Roger Mugford, another animal behaviorist, said: “I think that the reaction is due to the novelty and unexpectedness of finding an unusual object secretly placed while their heads were down in the food bowl.” So, maybe the fear isn’t exactly of the vegetable itself, but we cannot be sure. Regardless, playing tricks like this on your kitties because the rest of the internet is doing it isn’t in your best interest. It can cause a lot of harm to their little hearts, and you don’t want this.
8Cats Can Dream
Have you ever noticed that when cats sleep, they twitch their paws or shake their heads? Just like humans, images of past events replay in a cat’s mind while it sleeps. Although cats have much smaller brains than us, their hippocampus, the part of their brain that retains memories, is believed to be wired the same way as humans’. The average house cat sleeps about 16 to 18 hours a day and spends 10% more of their life dreaming than humans.
Back in the 1950s, researchers from the University of Lyon in France activated cats’ motor skills during REM sleep. Firstly, the study found that whereas a human reaches REM approximately every 90 minutes during their slumber, a cat experiences it every 25 minutes. During the cat study, while sleepwalking, the cats acted out playing, bouncing, and swatting with imaginary toys. While MIT researchers say that this experiment did not demonstrate actual dreaming, it suggests that cats’ brains function the same way while awake and asleep.
Studies have also looked into what exactly cats dream about. As humans, we can have wild nightmares about things that could never even happen – like a zombie apocalypse. Luckily for cats, zombies don’t show up in their dreams. Research has found that cats can only dream about things that have happened to them before. So, as they close their eyes, they may be dreaming of the last meal you fed them. Dreams are said to be the body’s attempt to understand information, so next time you catch your kitty twitching during its sleep, it means it’s learning processing what it learned throughout the day.
7Humans Can’t Drink Seawater, but Cats Can
The amount of salt in seawater is terrible for humans and can be a significant health risk to us if we swallow more than just a tiny bit. Although it is water, the salt content inside this water dehydrates us more than anything.
When A. V. Wolf & other physiologists looked into cats’ ability to drink salty seawater; their results showed “Under certain conditions in which food provides an adequate caloric intake but too little water to sustain a cat or a rat in hydration, these animals can be shown to depend for survival on their intake of seawater. They will generally drink enough seawater ad libitum to thrive, even overcoming thereby a previously induced water deficit; or, they will readily eat their food, mixed with seawater in amounts which can vary widely, with similar benefit. Without seawater, they undergo progressive hydroponic and die. Along with experimental verification of the potability of seawater, a theory of seawater drinking (mariposa) is presented, based upon the concept of urinary osmotic space.”
Cats have kidneys that filter out salt and use the water content to hydrate their bodies. If they drink a little bit of seawater, they can tolerate it pretty well. But, it is essential to note that it is not safe for cats to drink any significant amount of seawater. Cats with heart disease, kidney disease, or any health issues, should not drink from seawater whatsoever. So, if giving them freshwater is an option, stick with that!
6Why Do Cats Always Eat Grass?
Whenever an indoor cat gets let out in the backyard, what is the first thing it does? Start eating grass! While many think cats are always caught nibbling on grass simply because they like the taste of it, there are much more profound reasons as to why they do so.
Typically, after a cat spends some time munching on grass, it ends up throwing all of it up. While this may freak you out at first, you should know that it is nothing to be concerned about. According to PetMD, “Cats regurgitate when they eat grass because they lack the necessary enzymes to break down vegetable matter.” This in no way means your cat enjoys throwing up. Your cat eats grass to make itself feel better. Throwing up the grass after eating it helps clear its digestive tract. So, whatever was making it feel sick before is now completely out of its system. On this note, grass also functions as a natural laxative for cats. Whenever they think hair getting stuck in their digestive tract, they go for a grass treat to help their body break the hair down inside them.
Another theory of why cats love chewing on grass is that grass contains folic acid, which is something they used to get from their mother’s milk. Folic acid is a vitamin that helps cats produce hemoglobin, which is what keeps protein moving into their blood. So, next time you see your kitty nibbling on the grass outside your home, know that it’s taking care of itself.
5Why Do Cats Purr?
Have you ever been lying in bed, ready to sleep, and then your cat starts rubbing up against your face? If you’re a cat owner, it’s like you’ve been there. Then, all you can hear is the sound of them purring as they find a spot cuddled up next to you. Part of you is annoying, while part of you is happy to know your cat loves you. Our first thought when we hear a cat purring is that they must be content, but this isn’t always the case. Cats also purr when they are in pain, giving birth, and sometimes when they are dying.
It is only the smaller members of the feline family, like cougars and domestic cats, that can purr. They manage to purr by pulsing muscles in their larynx and diaphragm. This causes vibrations to occur that come about in a rhythmic pattern during both inhalation and exhalation. Purring vibrations occur at a frequency between 25 to 150 hertz. Cats don’t only purr; they make all kinds of exciting sounds like growls and hisses. Every noise a cat makes is done as a means to communicate a specific feeling, like “please feed me.”
Since purring occurs in such different emotional states, it’s not considered a real communicative vocalization. Instead, as research has discovered, it is kind of self-medication for a cat to purr. Cats heal faster than dogs; this is something veterinarians have known for a long time. Even if a cat falls off a roof, they have a 90% survival rate. This is thanks to their ability to purr; it acts as a method of physical therapy. Purring helps cats heal and keep them healthy.
4Changes in Environment Stress Cats Out
If your cat ever starts refusing to eat, this is their way of demonstrating that something is not going well with them. Research done about cats and illness found that whenever cats stop eating, it is likely to be because they are stressed out by a change in their environment, and it is playing on their appetite. So, your kitty not eating may not mean it has any type of illness; it could mean they are not happy with changes happening around them.
In this study, both healthy cats and cats with chronic illnesses would often vomit hairballs and stop eating whenever something in their daily routine had changed. Veterinarians call these “sickness behaviors.” These changes in a cat’s behavior are essential to recognize, in order to find ways to make them feel better.
During the study, “When the cats experienced what was called “unusual external events,” such as a change in feeding schedule or caretaker, the healthy cats were just as likely to exhibit sickness behaviors as were the chronically ill cats. The two groups had the same number of sickness behaviors in response to unusual events, and both groups were at more than three times the risk of acting sick when their routines were disrupted. So, cats need routine in their lives. If ever this routine is interrupted, they may have a hard time adapting. Do your best to keep your cat living on a schedule!
3Cats Can Be Right or Left Pawed
Cats are more like humans than you expect. Okay, so maybe we don’t have tails like them, and our body hair looks a little different, and our ears may never stick up in a cool way that there’s do, but we both have a dominant hand (or paw)!
According to two studies, one from the Ataturk University in Turkey done in 1991 and another at the University of Manchester in England in 2006, cats are typically right or left pawed. These studies found that the majority of domestic cats are right pawed, while 10% of them are ambidextrous, meaning they have no preference for which paw they use. There also seems to be a correlation between the gender of a cat and their dominant paw. Having a cat neutered at a young age takes this distinction away, though.
It isn’t as easy to determine which paw a cat has as their dominate one as it is with humans and their hands. It takes more than just giving a cat a toy and seeing what paw they go with first to figure out which is their dominant paw. This is because their paw preference is often weakly expressed, unlike with humans. If you want to find out which paw your cat prefers, you must do a test numerous amounts of times and watch for the patterns. For example, you can study which paw your cat uses to touch you when it wants attention. After paying attention for a week or two, you should be able to figure out if they are right or left pawed.
2Cats Love Giving Dead Animals as A Present, But Why?
It may gross you out when your cat shows up at your front steps with a dead rodent that it killed on its way home, but it’s a kinder gesture than any of us expect. So, what does your cat think as it leaves you the precious gift of a murdered rat? Well, it’s looking out for you!
Cats are natural hunters. We see this especially with the large members of the feline family, but we cannot forget it when it comes to our domesticated kitties. These bounty hunters apparently kill over a billion small animals annually in America alone. This statistic does not show that cats are evil creatures; it merely indicates that thanks to their ancestors, they are very used to a predatory lifestyle.
LiveScience tells us, “In the wild, cat mothers teach their young how to eat their food by bringing home dead or injured prey. Domestic cats are no different. But in this modern age of spayed domestic cats, many female felines have no young to whom they need to pass on their hunting wisdom. By leaving a dead animal on the back porch, your cat is acting out its natural role as mother and teacher. You, her loving owner, represent her surrogate family. And frankly, she knows you would never have been able to catch that delicious mouse on your own.” So, your cat brings home tiny dead mammals as a survival instinct for both you and them – how sweet!
1Cats Were Sacred in Ancient Egypt
Cats were considered demi-gods in Ancient Egypt. Egyptians would dress cats in jewels and feed them special treats. During the time of Ancient Egypt, they had to worry about rats getting into piles of grain and spoiling them completely, and venomous scorpions were attacking their children. It was cats that helped keep the Egyptians safe from these problems, so it is because of this that they were put on such a pedestal. They were considered lifesavers. The goddess Mafdet was known for protecting the people of Ancient Egyptian against venomous creatures, and she was half woman, half cat.
It is said that anyone who harmed a cat would be put to death unless the population of cats got out of hand. In that case, they would sacrifice cats to the goddess Bastet. The goddess Bastet eventually became the most popular feline goddess in Ancient Egypt, taking over the roles of the goddess Mafdet. Bastet was known for being the protector of the home, which we may continue to see our cats as today.
When cats passed away, the Egyptians would mummify them. According to PetFinder, “As Egyptians truly domesticated their cats, making them valued family members rather than just semi-feral animals that stalked and protected their owner’s homes, Bastet’s image became a lot softer– she became a goddess of family, fertility, and love. Egyptians began regarding their cats as loving, important members of their families, and treated them with as much respect and dignity as their own children. Followers of the cult of Bastet would mummify their cats and mourn them in the same way they mourned human family members– and in much the same way we cat-lovers mourn our own furry family members today.” Clearly, cats have been loved creatures for centuries and centuries.
Cats use their meowing to get their way with humans. Owning a cat is truly like having a child since they have similar tendencies. In general, the higher the intensity a cat’s meow has, the more urgent the message they are trying to relay is. So, if you hear your cat’s song of meowing start getting louder and louder, they may be in danger and need your help. Other times, they could also just be singing to you like a simple way of saying, “Hello, I love you!” Once you adopt a proper relationship with your feline friend, you should be able to start picking up on its different meows and what it wants when it uses them.
Cats are creatures of routine, and they act out when this routine is interrupted. So, if you ever notice your kitty acting strange, it may be because you changed something in their environment without noticing. Keep an eye out for whenever a cat is not eating! As we know, they are always hungry.
People on the internet worship cats, but not precisely in the same way they did back in Ancient Egypt. The domesticated cat used to be seen as a demi-god that saved lives, so there’s no wonder we continue to look up to these furry creatures today. Next time your cat brings you home a dead rat as a gift, you may stop and consider it a god-like thing to do. Since you now know they do such a thing to try and protect you, you can consider it a sweet gesture rather than a gross one.