Calling all curious cats! Whether you have a cat, are considering adopting a cat, or just love cats, we rounded up the most interesting cat facts we could find to help you better understand these adorable creatures.
Yeah, you’re obviously a cat person, but you might also get a kick out of these dog facts or shark facts. If you’re obsessed with Planet Earth, check out these fascinating facts about animals — or, if you’re interested in planets, plural, these space facts are out of this world. Plus, we rounded up the most interesting facts we could find for anyone who wants to know a little more about, well, everything.
1. Many female cats are right-handed (right-pawed?) while many male cats favor their left paw.
New research shows that cats, like humans, display a tendency for 'pawed'-ness that aligns with gender lines. In experiments with 42 house cats, male felines overwhelmingly favored their left paws when attempting complex tasks like scooping out tuna from a jar, while 20 out of 21 female cats consistently used their right paw for the same task.
2. Of all its senses, a cat's strongest is its hearing. They hear about four times as well as a human.
3. If you absolutely love cats all of a sudden, you might be infected with toxoplamosis, a parasite spread through cat poop that can spread to humans and make them care more for cats.
Scientific studies show that humans infected with toxoplamosis are perceived as more attractive than non-infected humans. Roughly one-third of the world’s population is infected with toxoplamosis, but most people don't even know they have it, despite the side effects for humans: headache, fatigue, seizures, and swollen lymph nodes.
5. Cats have reportedly played a hand in the extinction of 63 species of birds, mammals, and reptiles.
Since the introduction of cats to the Hawaiian islands in the 1700s, birds like the Hawaiian crow have gone extinct due to toxoplasmosis. Similarly, in Australia, numbats are preyed upon by feral cats, driving them toward extinction.
6. Cats walk by placing their back paws exactly into the footprints created by their front paws.
This movement is called direct registering — it means cats can be very stealthy, as they make fewer tracks and less noise when walking.
12. The richest cat in the world inherited $12.5 million when its owner passed away.
According to the Guinness World Records, Blackie the cat inherited £7 million ($12.5 million) when his owner Ben Rea died in 1988. The millionaire antique dealer refused to recognize his family in his will so most of the fortune was split between cat charities.
13. Purring actually improves bone density and promotes healing within a cat. The purring frequency — 26 Hertz — apparently aides in tissue regeneration and can help stimulate the repair of weak and brittle bones.
15. Adult cats don’t release any particular key hormones during sleep. They just snooze all day because they can.
The fact that cats don't have duvets is only of small comfort here.
18. Cats can change their meow depending on the situation, such as when they're demanding to be fed.
20. Cats cover their waste in sand or litter as a sign of subservience to humans. If they don't cover up their waste, it's like they're saying, "I'm not afraid of you, human."
25. Black cats may be a bad omen in the US, but in other countries, such as England and Japan, they're a sign of good luck.
26. Cats can drink seawater.
Unlike humans, cats have kidneys that can filter out salt and use the water content to hydrate their bodies. (Yes, I know seawater doesn't come out of the toilet.)
27. The furry tufts on the inside of cats’ ears are called “ear furnishings.”
They insulate the ear, and help filter out direct sounds and debris.
28. Cats can hear dolphins. Theoretically.
Cats can hear the ultrasonic noises that rodents (and dolphins) make to communicate.
29. Kittens start to dream when they’re about a week old.
During their dreams, cats likely process and relive experiences from their day, such as playtime with their owners or hunting behaviors — serving as a way for cats to make sense of the information and experiences stored in their brains.
30. Cats can’t see directly below their noses. That’s why they miss food that’s right in front of them.
32. But cats don't just purr when they're content, they also purr when they're under duress, or when they're injured.
38. Cats' homing instinct may be due to magnets in their BRAINS.
Cats find their way home through a process called "psi-travelling" — experts think they navigate via the angle of sunlight, or that they have magnetised brain cells that act like compasses.
40. Cats may have evolved their “tone of voice” to communicate with humans.
Cats' natural vocal range would be inaudible to humans, but they communicate feelings such as affection, hunger, and fear within the range of human hearing. Some researchers believe that this is learned behaviour to help cats to relate to humans.
41. The more you talk to your cat, the more it will talk to you.
If you chat to your cat, it will increasingly chirrup and meow at you.
44. There are about 13.5 million more cat owners than dog owners in America.
46. Nikola Tesla was inspired to investigate electricity after his cat, Macak, gave him a static shock.
47. Studies originally suggest that domesticated cats first appeared around 3600 B.C.
48. Isaac Newton invented the cat flap after his own cat, Spithead, kept opening the door and spoiling his light experiments.
49. 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.
50. Cats have approximately 32 ear muscles.
51. Your average house cat's genetic roots can be found in the Middle East. In a 2007 study, researchers found that house cats shared the majority of their DNA with wildcats found in Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.
52. 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.
53. There's a cat that 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.
55. 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.
56. 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.
58. 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."
This is why certain states — including New York — have outlawed it.
59. It was considered a capital offense to kill a cat in ancient Egypt.
A story recounted by the historian Herodotus claimed that Persians knew 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.
61. 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.
62. The world's largest domestic cat is a Maine Coon cat named Stewie, who measures an astounding 48.5 inches long.
64. 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.”
65. Cats may be able to detect earthquake tremors 10 or 15 minutes before humans can.
Although no one knows for sure, theories suggest that animals — like domestic cats — can feel the Earth vibrate before humans can. There have been other theories that say they can sense electrical changes in the air or gas released from the Earth.
66. There was an orange tabby named Stubbs who was the mayor of the town of Talkeetna, Alaska for 20 years until he died in 2020.
68. When a cat rubs its cheeks or whiskers on you, they're marking you with their scent. It's a sign of affection, and your cat is essentially claiming you as its own.
69. Have you ever noticed your cat going crazy for olives? That's because olives have a similar chemical compound in them to catnip.
70. 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.
71. Cats have scent glands in their paws. They use kneading and scratching in order to mark their territory.
72. A cat’s heart beats nearly twice as fast as a human's heart.
73. 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.
76. 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.
77. Cats don't have collarbones, meaning they can fit through openings as small as their heads.
78. 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).
79. 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.
80. 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!
83. The largest recorded litter of cats ever birthed was 19 kittens. Most litters are just four to six kittens.
84. 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.
85. When cats are absolutely desperate for our attention, they'll use a special purr that mimics the tone of a baby crying.
87. Cats prefer to be petted on their face, especially around their mouths. They actually dislike being stroked around their tails.
89. And a lot of cats have fallen over 32 stories high and survived with minimal injuries.
90. Cats are responsible for the decimation of 33 different animal species. And they kill around 2.4 million birds a year.
91. 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 a.m.? It's pretty great, right?)
92. Similarly, cats crave cardboard boxes because the box keeps them warm and reminds them of the small crevices and hiding spots they might have crept into in the wild.
93. Fur color changes in Siamese kittens depends on their body temperature.
94. 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.
95. 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.
96. A cat’s brain is more similar to a human brain than to a dog brain.
This article contains content from Kyla Ryan, Chelsea Marshall, Robyn Wilder, brookscendra, Julie Gerstein, and Krista Torres. It was compiled by Laura Frustaci.