Wednesday, November 4, 2015

15 Strange Facts About Cats

Cats can drink sea water to re-hydrate themselves!

Have you ever heard the expression, “Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink?” The age-old age adage refers, of course, to the ocean – vast quantities of water, but unsuitable for humans to drink due to the salt content. But did you know that cats CAN drink seawater to in order to survive? Read on to find out how.

All animals get some of their water intake from food, cats included. But when a cat’s intake of water from all sources is inadequate, their kidneys are efficient enough to re-hydrate by consuming saltwater. The kidneys are able to expel the salt while allowing the potable water to re-hydrate the feline in order to help it survive in times of drought.

Here are a couple of other fun facts about cats: most female cats are right pawed while males are left pawed; a cat’s brain is more similar to a human brain than to a dog’s brain; cats can run at an astounding 31 mph for short distances; and, cats almost never meow at other cats – only at humans.

Cats have been blamed for the global extinction of 33 species

Feral cats are different than stray cats. Stray cats are pet cats that have been lost or abandoned by their owners. Feral cats, however, are domestic cats that have returned to the wild. Specifically, they were born in the wild.

Feral cats often spawn from cats that were left behind by travelers. Since they are not native to all parts of the world, feral cats can often cause harm to local ecosystems. They prey on local species and can even hunt them to extinction. This is especially true on islands where cats can damage local animals. They have been blamed for the extinction of 33 species.

Cats can smell with their paws!

Declawing cats is so awful, because it amputates the toes up to the first knuckle. Cats don’t have sweat glands on their bodies like we do. Instead, although they do sweat through their paws, they rely more on the evaporation of saliva off their fur to maintain normal body temperature.

Cat’s paws also contain scent glands, and the scent, mixed with the sweat from their paws, is used to mark their territory while they’re engaged in walking, kneading and scratching behaviors. In addition to marking their territory, cats use scratching posts and other surfaces to hook their claws in deep to allow them to engage in a full body stretch.

This benefits them physically and mentally and is another reason not to declaw the animals. All cats sweat through their paw and they all use this process to mark territory that is theirs.

Domestic cats instinctively don't want to drink from the water bowl next to their food because they think it might be contaminated

Cats are odd creatures. While they can be cuddly and affectionate, they can also be neurotic and keep to themselves. There are a lot of cat cliches that may or may not be true. People think that they hate to be bathed. I hope that one isn't true.

People think they love to drink milk. Probably. People think that cat nip makes them go crazy. Yes. But what about when it comes to their drinking water? It turns out that cats are a little weird about their water.

They instinctively do not want to drink from a water bowl that is placed next to their food. This is because cats are naturally hunters despite the fact that they have been domesticated. In the wild, cats do not drink water that is near their kill because it could have been contaminated by their newly caught prey. Obviously, domesticate cats usually overcome this instinct and drink from a water bowl that is near their food, but the instinct is still there.

Cats Sleep For 70 Percent of Their Lives

We all wish we could sleep our days away sometimes. Who doesn't love the occasional long, lazy nap or sleeping in on the weekends? Cats, however, take this penchant for sleep to a whole new level. If you have a cat, you know they spend the majority of their time lounging about, basking in the sun, or sleeping out of sight. There is a reason they call it a "cat nap."

However, humans don't often realize just how much cats sleep. Cats actually sleep 70% of their lives, which equates to about 16 hours a day. They sleep more than any other mammal besides bats and opossums. There are a number of reasons that cats sleep so much.

As natural predators with few enemies, they can afford to sleep a lot. Also, the need for sleep increases proportionally to the amount of energy required. When cats are actually hunting (or pouncing on that toy mouse you leave out for them), they use enormous amounts of energy. So all that sleep is for something.

Every night, Disneyland releases over 200 feral cats into the park to keep its rodent population under control.

Disneyland owns 200 or so feral cats. By day, they reside in five permanent feeding stations hidden within the park's 85 public acres.

But by night, they are released into the empty park.

Park officials first employed these animals in 1955. During the renovation of the Sleeping Beauty castle two years later, more than 100 cats were found living in the unused portions, covered with fleas.

Nowadays, these cats are much better controlled. They are sprayed, neutered, and given regular shots.

Additionally, they are well fed (during the day, and obviously at night) and kept in open spaces that cannot be reached by the public.

Most black cats have a white spot because of their middle-ages persecution!

Most black cat owners discover that they have one or more white spots on their body. The reason for this has a lot to do with the Middle Age persecution that cats suffered. When they became associated with dark magic and sorcery, the Church burned black cats alive because they were considered to come from the devils.

As a result of the persecution, the number of black cats diminished, but their relatives that had white spots increased all the time. The church had mimicked natural selection!

A lost one year old boy was kept alive by feral cats!

In 2008 a boy was found by police in Misiones, Argentina amongst 8 wild cats. Doctors claim the cats must have snuggled up to the boy at night during freezing temperatures and kept him warm and alive. The one year old ate scraps of food that the cats dragged in. The cats licked him and bathed him as if he were their own.

It was like a real life Mowgli situation. The child was discovered by a canal in a gutter surrounded by cats. As the police officer tried to approach the boy, the cats got protective and spat at the officer. The boy’s father was found and was said to be a homeless man who lost his son while out collecting cardboard to sell.

The man told officers that cats had always been protective of his son. The boy was cleaned up and safely returned to his father to go on their way.

Old cats meow more because of kitty Alzheimer’s!

Ever had an older cat that began to meow almost nonstop and you wondered what was going on? Animal scientists have discerned that this experience occurs largely because of age-related changes in behavior from dementia or Alzheimer’s just like humans.

Senior cats, usually eight or older, often begin to experience something called Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, or CDS. This is very similar to an elderly person experiencing Alzheimer’s and they become confused and anxious. Cats suffering from CDS will usually be especially disturbed at night because it disrupts their sleeping cycles and causes them to wander around crying.

Cat experts say the best way to help your cat is by ensuring their comfort throughout the night to soothe their anxieties. Older cats have trouble regulating their body temperatures, causing them increased discomfort and meows, so providing an extra blanket can often help. Keeping them indoors will also help because they are especially sensitive to humidity.

A cat’s whiskers are normally as long as the cat is wide, helping it determine if it can fit into certain spaces!

Cats have whiskers in more places than just their cheeks, though that is the most common place. They also have them on their chins, eyebrows, and legs. The whiskers on their cheeks are the longest and most noticeable with 8-12 on each cheek. Occasionally whiskers will fall out and they are completely replaced within 2-3 months.

The whiskers grow to the length of the widest part of the cat’s body, normally their shoulder or hip span. They use their whiskers to gauge if they’ll be able to fit through openings. When a cat ducks its head into a space, it is actually seeing whether it’ll fit its body through the space by seeing how much space its whiskers have.

If the whiskers bend or move, then the cat knows it won’t be able to fit through the space. They can also feel air movement flow through their whiskers. This helps them gauge distances and changes in air flow so they don’t run into things.

A cat is more likely to survive a 32-story fall than it is a 6-story one!

This can seem shocking and counter-intuitive, but we assure you, cats aren't violating the laws of physics. They're actually taking advantage of them. New York veterinarians gathered up data that showed that the death rate for cats falling from 2 - 6 stories was much higher than from 7 - 32 stories.

How can this be? First, a quick lesson on how cats handle falling. You might now that cats have a really keen sense of direction. When they're falling, they are able to tell which side is up really easily and position their body upright.

This positioning allows them to land on all four legs. Not just that, they also flex them on impact. This allows them to absorb the shock from the fall and prevent their legs from breaking.

When falling from a higher place, cats also place themselves in an umbrella position. In this position they're able to slow down their fall, much in the same way a parachute prevents humans from falling faster and faster. Thus, a higher fall means that they're able to decelerate for longer, and so cats have a higher chance at survival. 

Of course, this principle can vary from cat to cat, so this doesn't mean you can use your housecat as a furry little parachute. 

A genetic study concluded that every domesticated cat in existence could be traced back to a group of only five African Wildcats from the Middle East, circa 8000 BC!

It is pretty remarkable that all cats have been traced back to the Middle East. Though makes sense that the Middle East is their origin. Cats are actually very resilient. For example, humans can only handle temperatures somewhat comfortably up to 112 degrees Fahrenheit. Cats, on the other hand, can handle temperatures up to 133 degrees Fahrenheit if necessary.

They can also live on meat alone without water and, when need be, they can drink seawater. Domestic cats have evolved so little from the Wildcat that they can easily interbreed. They are also close to the jungle cat of Southeast Asia, the Chinese Mountain Cat, and the Arabian Sand Cat. 

There are two main theories of how cats were domesticated. One theory is that they were deliberately tamed to prey on vermin. This theory is strongly refuted, though, because cats have proven to rarely take commands from humans. 

The other theory is that cats were simply tolerated by people and they eventually diverged from their wild relatives through natural selection and they began hunting vermin for food around the villages where they lived with people. 

Cats purrs exploit our nurturing instinct by incorporating the same frequency as a baby’s cry.

As of now, communication cross species is something that’s only been dabbled in, comparatively. There are only a few studies that highlight the way animals communicate with their human companions in their “natural” domestic environment. One of the few things that’s been discovered as fact is the way cats manipulate their humans by purring.

Essentially, cats purr to get what they want from human hosts (normally food). Their purr hits the same sensory frequency as an infant’s cry, exploiting the nurturing instinct of humans. A test was conducted that played purrs while cats were seeking food to one group, and played no purrs while cats looked for food to another group.

The group listening to the purrs felt much more discomfort. Embedded within the purr is a higher frequency sound more like a meow. That sound is the actual influential factor in manipulating humans.

Cats instinctually imitate the hiss of snakes.

It has been suggested that cats actually began hissing after hearing snakes hiss. This behavior may actually originate from imitating snakes. Your cat might really be a copy cat! Because snakes can be so deadly, other animals know to pay attention and shy away from its characteristic hiss. 

The hiss is a warning to other animals or people to stay away, whether it comes from a snake or an unhappy cat. A cat’s hissing is often a result of fear. The introduction of another animal into the home, for example, another cat or a dog, is a common reason for a cat to hiss. Anything or anyone a cat doesn’t know scares it and so it hisses as a defense mechanism. So what can you do for your nervous cat? 

Mostly, a cat needs to be given the room to get comfortable and adjust to the smell of a new person or animal. It especially helps to let your cat smell something the new visitor has touched, so that they can get used to the new smell. That way the smell will be more familiar and less threatening to the cat. For more information on why cats hiss visit the source.

Cats cannot perceive sweetness.

No wonder they can be so bitter. Studies have shown that domesticated cats are neither attracted to nor show avoidance of the taste of sweet carbohydrates and high-intensity sweeteners. Recordings from cat taste cells have shown no response to sucrose and several other sugars.

Other than this, a cat’s sense of taste is similar to most other mammals’. Dogs on the other hand prefer natural sugars, e.g. sucrose, glucose, etc. This of course may serious implications for the biological community, but all it means for you is that you shouldn’t buy your cats’ treats based on sweetness, because as with most things, cats are indifferent to it. 

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