46 Surprising Cat Facts That'll Make You Say "Wow"
What a bunch of cute little weirdos.
1. Your average house cat's genetic roots can be found in the Middle East. In a 2007 study, researchers found that house cats shared a the majority of their DNA with wildcats found in Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
2. White cats are actually prone to deafness. Not ALL white cats are deaf, but according to a Cornell University study, between 65 to 85 percent of white cats that have blue eyes are hearing impaired.
3. If you live alone with your cat, beware — if you die in your apartment alone, your cat will probably try to eat you. According to NYC medical examiner Judy Melinek, in her book Working Stiff, "Your faithful golden retriever might sit next to your dead body for days, starving, but the tabby won’t. Your pet cat will eat you right away, with no qualms at all. I’ve seen the result.” OOF.
4. There's a cat that actually has a master's degree! His name is Colby Nolan, and his name was used in an investigation into bogus degree-granting practices at Trinity Southern University and several other universities in 2004. Colby was granted an MBA after the university claimed that cat had a 3.5 GPA. Impressive.
5. Cats don't just purr when they're happy — they also purr to signal stress and fear. But the coolest thing? Cats may purr to help regenerate their bones. The purring frequency — 26 Hertz — apparently aides in tissue regeneration and can help stimulate the repair of weak and brittle bones.
6. Speaking of, no one REALLY KNOWS exactly how cats purr. Scientists know it involves the larynx and diaphragm muscles but they're not sure exactly how those muscles work together to create such a cool sensation. SO MYSTERIOUS!
7. Cats have INSANELY good hearing. That's mostly due to the fact that they have 32 different muscles in their ears, which helps them expertly identify where noises are coming from.
8. The world's largest domestic cat is a Maine Coon cat named Stewie, who measures an astounding 48.5 inches long.
9. There's a cat that lives at a nursing home in Rhode Island who's "predicted" the death of more than 25 patients there. Nurses at the nursing home noticed that the cat, named Oscar, tends to show a ton of affection and care to people who are on the verge of dying — and there's actually some scientific basis for the cat's weird skill. Apparently a dying body gives off a scent that cats are particularly sensitive to.
10. Declawing a cat is actually akin to amputating a limb. "To declaw a cat," explain veterinarians, "you amputate each toe at the first knuckle, taking off bone along with tendons and the claw." Which is why some states — including New York — have considered outlawing it.
11. It was considered a capital offense to kill a cat in ancient Egypt. A story recounted by the historian Herodotus claimed that Persians new how much cats were revered by the Egyptians and so they released a bunch of cats onto a battlefield. The Egyptians allegedly surrendered against the Persians rather than risk killing a cat in battle.
12. The ancient Egyptians would go into an intense period of mourning when one of their cats died. Their mourning rituals included shaving their eyebrows in grief.
13. Cats actually sleep around 70 percent of their lives away. In comparison, humans sleep around 30 percent of the time.
14. The oldest cat ever was Creme Puff who lived to be 38 years old. He lived on bacon, eggs, and broccoli. The person who owned Creme Puff also owned another cat that lived to be 34.
15. In 1837, Belgium hired 37 cats as mail carriers. Not surprisingly, it DID NOT WORK.
16. Abraham Lincoln loved cats so much that he would regularly feed his cats Tabby and Dixie at the dinner table. He reportedly told his wife Mary Todd, "If the gold fork was good enough for former President James Buchanan, I think it is good enough for Tabby.”
17. There's an orange tabby named Stubbs who's been the mayor of the town of Talkeetna, Alaska for the past 20 years.
18. Cats sweat through their paws and also have scent glands in their paws. They use kneading and scratching in order to mark their territory.
19. Ever notice that your cat runs around a bunch after using the litter box? That's because they're instinctually trying to confuse potential predators who smell their poop.
20. Have you ever noticed your cat going crazy for olives? That's because olives have a similar chemical compound in them to catnip.
21. Is your cat ignoring you on purpose? Probably. A Japanese study found that cats are actually capable of recognizing their owners' voices — they just actively choose to ignore what the owner is saying.
22. Cats are incapable of tasting sweet things. They just don't have the sweet taste receptors in their mouths.
23. If you're a cat owner you're apparently 40 percent less likely to have a heart attack. A ten-year study from the University of Minnesota Stroke Center found that people who owned cats were also 30 percent less likely to have strokes.
24. Nicolas Cage's cat once accidentally ate a bunch of the actor's hallucinogenic mushrooms, so Cage decided the two would trip together. "I remember lying on my bed for hours and [the cat] was on the desk across my bed and we just stared at each other for hours — not moving, just staring at each other, and I had no doubt that he was my brother," he told David Letterman in 2010.
25. Calico cats are nearly always female.
26. And orange cats are usually male.
27. Oh, and most female cats are right-pawed, while most male cats are actually left-pawed. Not that they can write their names or anything with EITHER PAW.
28. Every cat's nose pad is completely unique — just like a human fingerprint.
29. Cats can spend as much as half of their waking life grooming themselves.
30. The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, "employs" 70 stray cats that are tasked with controlling the mice population and preventing them from chewing on the artwork. The cats even have their own "Press Secretary to the Cats" (unofficial position, but you know).
31. Cats actually CAN be loyal. A cat named Toldo was renowned in the village of Montagnana, Italy, for visiting his owner's grave every day for a year after he died.
32. There is a cat named Unsinkable Sam who was on board THREE different ships that sank during WWII and managed to survive all three disasters. The cat actually started out on the German side but ended up on the British side!
33. When cats are flexing their paws, aka making biscuits, they're doing so out of a reflex they developed as kittens to help get their mother's milk going from the nipple while they're suckling.
34. Ironically, most cats are actually lactose intolerant so step awayyyy from the milk bowl.
35. That thing your cat does when it head buts you? It's actually called "bunting."
36. Morbid: The phrase "It's raining cats and dogs" comes from the fact that in 17th century England the heavy rains used to carry along dead animals in their wake.
37. When cats are absolutely desperate for our attention, they'll use a special purr that mimics the tone of a baby crying. SO MANIPULATIVE.
38. Cats can have up to 100 kittens in her lifetime.
39. Black cats are actually considered good luck in England, Ireland, and parts of Asia.
40. It turns out cats aren't exactly nocturnal. They're considered "crepuscular," which means they typically have a schedule where they're most active at the same dawn and dusk hours. Often those hours don't correspond with YOUR favorite waking hours (does your cat ALSO like to wake up at 5 AM? It's pretty great, right?)
41. Cats are responsible for the decimation of 33 different animal species. And they kill around 2.4 million birds a year.
42. Cat whiskers actually serve a pretty important role: Whiskers are typically the same width as a cat's body, so they help cats figure out whether they can fit through an opening or squeeze into a space.
43. Whiskers are also a good indicator of your cat's mood. If they're pushed back, your cat might be irritated or annoyed. If they're forward or relaxed, your cat is feeling fine.
44. That thing your cat does where it finds the one patch of sunlight in the room and lolls around in it all day? There's actually a scientific reason for that! Cats do it to save energy — the heat of the sun helps them stay cozy while they sleep and their basic metabolism drops.
45. Similarly, cats crave cardboard boxes because the box keeps them warm and reminds them of the small crevasses and hiding spots they might have crept into in the wild.
46. And finally, yeah, your dog might be loyal and sweet AF, but cats are actually SMARTER. It's because they're so smart that scientists theorize they don't bother listening to us humans.