Today, October 29, is a National Cat Day! “What greater gift than the love of a cat?” Charles Dickens once mused. Cats are one of the most beloved human companions of all time. They were first domesticated in the Middle East’s Fertile Crescent as early as 12,000 years ago. When humans relied on hunting as their main source of food, dogs were most useful – but when the first agricultural societies emerged, cats became invaluable. Domesticated cats became responsible for keeping grain stores free of mice and other rodents. Today, cats can be found in 34% of American households, making them the most popular house pet in the United States.
Here are some amazing facts about cats, you may not been aware:
1. Cats can drink seawater
If you’re ever lost at sea, don’t drink the ocean water. The large amount of salt in the water dehydrates humans. Cats, on the other hand, can drink sea water in order to survive. Cats have crazy kidneys that filter out the salt from the water so they can re-hydrate themselves.
2. Cats sweet through their paws
Cats do not have sweat glands, like humans. Instead, when they want to cool off they sweat through their paws. The sweat glands on cats’ paws secrete a scent that they use to mark their territory. So whenever they are walking or scratching they are actually marking that spot as their own.
3. Cats as sleeping beauties
How much time do you sleep daily? Not enough I guess? Well, if so you would be jealous as your favorite kitty spends 70% of his lives sleeping? That’s 16 hours a day! Cats need an enormous amount of energy to hunt, or pounce on the little toy mouse they have. Sleeping is their way of storing up energy.
4. Kitty Alzheimer’s
Senior cats start to experience something like human dementia or Alzheimer’s when they reach an old age, usually around 8. The cats wander around the house a little dazed and confused, which is why they meow constantly. If your cat is displaying these symptoms, experts say it is best to comfort it and provide an extra blanket at night.
5. Whiskers purpose
Unlike men’s mustache, cats’ whiskers grow to be as long as the cat is wide. Whiskers don’t just make cats adorable they also serve an important purpose. Cats use their long whiskers to make sure their body will be able to fit through tight openings. If the whiskers bend or move, the cat knows it won’t be able to fit.
6. Survival rates for cats are better when falling from higher heights
It takes some time for cats’ bodies to realize they are falling and properly adjust. Cats are more likely to survive a higher fall because they have more time to prepare their body and decelerate. The death rate for cats falling from a 2 to 6-story building is much higher than falling from a 7 to 32-story building. Some cats have survived falls of over 65 feet (20 meters), due largely to their “righting reflex.” The eyes and balance organs in the inner ear tell it where it is in space so the cat can land on its feet. Even cats without a tail have this ability. Humans are definitely not as good at it. In 1972, stewardess Vesna Vulovic lived after falling over 9,000 meters—30,000 feet—from a damaged plane, but that is kind of a very rare exception.
7. Cats might be allergic of humans
Does your cat cough frequently? You might be to blame. According to a 2005 study, feline asthma—which affects one in 200 cats—is on the rise thanks to human lifestyle. Since cats are more frequently being kept indoors, they’re more susceptible to inflammation of their airways caused by cigarette smoke, dusty houses, human dandruff, pollen and some kinds of cat litters. And in rare cases, humans can even transmit illnesses like the flu to their pets.
8. Cats are sophisticated animals
Sure, their brains are small, accounting for just 0.9 percent of their body mass. But according to Psychology Today, "the brains of cats have an amazing surface folding and a structure that is about 90 percent similar to ours." The cerebral cortex—the part of the brain that's responsible for cognitive information processing—is more complex in cats than in dogs, and cats have some 300 million neurons, as compared to 160 million in dogs. Some research does suggest that dogs are slightly smarter than cats, but cat owners might have a different opinion on that.
9. Cats don’t like sweets
Cats aren't interested in sweet stuff because of a defect in the gene that codes for part of the mammalian sweet taste receptor. The receptor contains two protein subunits, T1R2 and T1R3, which are each coded for by a separate gene. The defect occurs on the T1R2 protein in domestic cats, as well as in cheetahs and tigers.
10. Cats can’t see food?
Yes, it may be the case: cats can’t see directly below their noses. That’s why they miss food that’s right in front of them. In general, a cat’s eyesight is both better and worse than humans. It is better because cats can see in much dimmer light and they have a wider peripheral view. It’s worse because they don’t see color as well as humans do. Scientists believe grass appears red to cats.
11. Where the cats’ navigation capabilities come from?
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 magnetized brain cells that act like compasses.
12. Right and left handed cats
Female cats tend to be right pawed, while male cats are more often left pawed. Interestingly, while 90% of humans are right handed, the remaining 10% of lefties also tend to be male.
13. Cats on diet
Foods that should not be given to cats include onions, garlic, green tomatoes, raw potatoes, chocolate, grapes, and raisins. Though milk is not toxic, it can cause an upset stomach and gas. Like some humans, as they grow, cats stop making the enzyme lactase, which breaks down their mother’s milk. Tylenol and aspirin are extremely toxic to cats, as are many common houseplants. Feeding cats a dog food or canned tuna that’s for human consumption can also cause malnutrition.
14. Earthquake monitor
Cats are extremely sensitive to vibrations. Cats are said to detect earthquake tremors 10 or 15 minutes before humans can.
15. Cats and depression
The latest studies revealed the strange correlation between the cats’ ownership and level of depression. Unlike expected, the correlation is positive, and claims that having a cat at home puts the owner on higher risk of depression and suicide. That is not right! Cat is the most therapeutic pet, being able to calm down the distressed owner. So what is the catch? While it is still under investigation, the common consensus is that the guilty is parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, commonly found in cat feces, which might be infecting the brains of cat owners, causing the depression (well, that theory works well for the specialists who believe that infection is the main source of the clinical depression). Another research claims that owning a cat can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes by more than a third.
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