Cats have been our companions for thousands of years yet many people don’t know a lot about this wonderful creature. This is why we have created a list of 40 interesting and weird facts about cats.
1. While dogs and humans bob their head up and down when chasing prey, cats keep their leveled.
2. Cats don’t have a sweet tooth like dogs do. Some researchers believe that this is because of a mutation in their key taste receptor.
3. The technical term for a cat’s hairball is a “bezoar.”
4. A cat can’t climb head first down a tree due to its claws pointing the same way. This is why it goes to get down from a tree by climbing backwards.
5. A group of cats is called a “clowder.”
6. While dogs make only about 10 sounds, cats make about 100.
7. There are more than 40 breeds of cats around the world. Also, there are more than 500 million domestic cats currently living in the world.
8. In Asia, about 4 million cats are eaten annually. This is because many people in China consider cats a “warming” food and eat it during the winter.
9. Ancient Egyptians weren’t the first to domesticate cats as the oldest known pet cat was found in a 9,500 year old grave on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. This grave predates the Egyptians by 4,000 years.
10. During the Middle Ages, cats were associated with witches and, on St. John’s Day, people in Europe would shove them in sacks and throw them into bonfires. On holy days, people would celebrate by throwing cats from church towers.
11. During the Spanish Inquisition, Pope Innocent VIII condemned all cats as evil and thousands of cats were burned alive. Because of this, the rat population increased exponentially which made the effects of the plague much worse.
12. In 1963, France sent a cat into outer space. Her name was Felicette and she was nicknamed “Astrocat.” She survived the trip.
13. The words associated with cat, catt, cath, chat, katze, all come from the Latin word “catus” meaning domesticated cat.
14. There are 73 million cats in North America, compared to 63 million dogs. Over 30% of the households in North America have a cat.
15. 40,000 people are bitten by cats in the United States every year.
16. A cat’s hearing is better than a dog’s since a cat can hear high frequency sounds that are up to two octaves higher than a human.
17. According to a Hebrew legend, Noah prayed to God to help protect the food he stores on the ark from being eaten by rats. God replied by making the lion sneeze, which popped out a cat.
18. A cat can run up to a top speed of 31 miles per hour, or 49 kilometers per hour, over short distances.
19. A cat doesn’t just run against people to be affectionate but to also mark its territory with scent glands that are around its face.
20. Most veterinarians believe that a cat purrs by vibrating the vocal folds around their throat. To be able to do this, a muscle in the larynx has to open and close the air passage at about 25 times per second.
21. In Ancient Egypt, when a family cat died, the family members would mourn by shaving off their eyebrows and holding elaborate funerals, where they would drink wine and beat their breasts. The cat was then embalmed with a sculpted wooden mask and the mummy was placed in the family tomb.
22. In 1888, more than 300,000 mummified cats were found in an Egyptian cemetery.
23. In Ancient Egypt, smuggling a cat was punishable by death. Some traders managed to smuggle some out, which they then promptly sold to rich people in Athens and other large cities at the time.
24. The earliest ancestor of the modern cat was the Proailurus, meaning “first cat” in Greek, and it lived 30 million years ago. The family of animals that the domesticated cat belongs to came about 12 million years ago.
25. A cat’s brain is biologically more similar to a human brain than a dog’s. This is because humans and cats have the same regions in their brains that govern our emotions.
26. Ancient Egyptians worshipped the goddess Bast, who had a woman’s body but a cat’s head.
27. While some parts of Europe and North America see a black cat as a sign of bad luck, in Britain and Australia, black cats are considered good luck.
28. Some cats have survived falls that were over 65 feet, or 20 meters. Researchers believe that this is because of their “righting reflex,” in which the eyes and balance organs in the inner ear tell it where it is exactly in space, so the cat knows what it has to do to land on its feet.
29. Most cat species can jump up to five times its own height in a single bound.
30. Apart from the Turkish Van, most cat species don’t like water because their fur doesn’t insulate them when it’s wet. What separates the Turkish Van cat is that it’s unique fur texture makes it water resistant.
31. The Egyptian Mau is the oldest breed of cat. The breed is so old that its name is the Egyptian word for “cat.”
32. The first commercially cloned pet was a cat named “Little Nicky.”
33. Spanish and Jewish folklore tells a story in which Adam’s first wife, Lilith, became a black vampire cat that sucks the blood from sleeping babies. This is why there’s a superstition that a cat will smother a sleeping baby or suck out the child’s breath.
34. On average, cats spend two thirds of their day sleeping. By this account, a 9 year old cat has really been awake for only 3 years.
35. Cats have an ability called “psi-travelling” which allows it to finds its way back home. Researchers believe that cats either use the angle of the sunlight to find their way or that they have magnetized cells in their brains that act as a compass.
36. A cat’s jaw can’t move sideways, which is why they can’t chew large chunks of food.
37. Cats only meow at humans. They will typically spit, purr or hiss at other cats.
38. Female cats tend to be right pawed while male cats tend to be left pawed.
39. The reason a cat’s back is so flexible is because it has up to 53 loosely fitted vertebrae.
40. In Japan, cats are said to have the power to turn into a super spirit when they die. This is due to the Buddhist religion believing that cats are a temporary resting place for very spiritual people.