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Cat Trivia | Fun Facts About Felines

Picture of a cat with green eyes

If you are an ailurophile (the technical term for a cat lover), you might already know some of these bits of popular cat trivia. You may learn something new, however. For example, the word ailurophile comes from the Greek word ailouros meaning “cat” and –phile meaning “lover”. Read on to see what else you can learn about our feline friends.

General Cat Trivia

  • Cats have 230 bones in their body, while humans have only 206.
  • The genome of a typical domestic house cat is 95.6 percent tiger, explaining why they share many behaviors with these ancestors.
  • Every cat has its own uniquely identifiable ridge pattern on its nose, like a human’s fingerprint.
  • Cats move with their right feet first, then their left feet.
  • Female cats are usually right paw-dominant, and males are left-paw dominant.
  • There are 53 loose-fitting vertebrae in a cat’s spine, making it very flexible. (By way of comparison, the human spine has just 34 vertebrae).
  • When you see a cat staring into space with its mouth open, it is using its extra organ that tastes scents in the air.
  • Cats have twice as many neurons in their brains as dogs.
  • Cats spend one-third to one-half of each day grooming themselves.
  • Grooming serves several purposes. It helps cats to cool down, distributes their natural oils around their coat, helps them tone down their scent so as to avoid predators, and enzymes in cat saliva may provide a natural antibiotic to heal its (or another cat’s that it is grooming in affection or companionship) wounds
  • A hairball’s scientific term is “bezoar.”
  • Cats spend about 70 percent of their lives sleeping.
  • Cats sweat through their paws.
  • Cats cannot taste sweetness, possibly due to a mutation in their taste receptor.
  • Some cats are able to swim.
  • Adult cats can leap up to six times their own body length, and up to five times their height.
  • A group of kittens is called a “kindle.”
  • A group of adult cats is called a “clowder.”
  • While cats won’t always land on their feet when they fall, they do have a great sense of balance and can quickly tell up from down, getting themselves in the correct position when they fall so they don’t land on their backs.
  • The tufts of hair inside a cat’s ears are called “ear furnishings.” They help to direct sound inward, keep dirt out of its ears, and help to insulate its ears.
  • Cats can hear five times better than adults.
  • Cats can’t see directly under their noses.
  • Cats can make over 100 different sounds. Dogs make just 10 sounds.
  • Cats don’t have eyelashes (usually).
  • Over 20 muscles control a cat’s ears. Each ear can move separately and up to 180 degrees.
  • The average cat can run as fast as 30 miles per hour.
  • Cats only meow to communicate with humans, not each other. When communicating with other cats, cats will hiss, spit or purr. Only kittens will meow to get their mother’s attention.
  • A cat may feel threatened if a human makes direct eye contact with it.
  • Yawning during a confrontation with another animal might be a cat’s way of ending the confrontation.
  • When cats meow to humans, they may be trying to communicate their physical needs and emotions, just as they did with their mothers as kittens.
  • Hissing is a defense mechanism in cats, not an aggressive form of communication. It is used when cats feel threatened, stressed, afraid or uncomfortable.
  • If a cat rolls over and shows a human its belly, this is a sign of trust and relaxation.
  • If a cat wags its tail, this is usually an indication of irritation, not happiness.
  • If a cat approaches a human with a straight, vibrating tail, it is indicating its happiness to see you.
  • If a cat drapes its tail over another cat, dog or person, it indicates friendship.
  • Sticking his butt in a human’s face is a cat’s way of saying he is happy to see you.
  • Purring does not necessarily indicate that a cat is happy. The cat may be happy but may also be hurt, stressed or sick when it purrs.
  • Some cats like to lick their owners’ freshly washed hair.
  • Male cats have barbed penises to stimulate ovulation in the female cat and to keep her from escaping during sexual intercourse.
  • A female cat is physically able to get pregnant as young as four months of age.
  • Kittens should be spayed or neutered between eight weeks and five months of age.
  • Male cats who have been neutered live 62 percent longer than unneutered males. Female cats who have been spayed live 39 percent longer than unsprayed females.
  • One in 200 cats has asthma, and these are mainly indoor cats. Their asthma is believed to potentially be caused by indoor allergens such as human dandruff, dust and cigarette smoke.
  • The frequency of a cat’s purr, between 25 to 150 Hz, can help to improve healing and its bone density. It might be a way for a cat to stimulate its muscles and bones when it is resting.
  • Because cat claws curve downward, they can’t climb down trees heat first – they must instead back down a tree trunk.
  • White cats with blue eyes are prone to deafness.
  • The Hungarian word for “quotation marks” translates to “cat claws” (macskaköröm).
  • People who have college degrees are 1.36 times more likely to own a cat.

Cat Breed Trivia

  • As of 2018, the most popular cat breed in the United States was the Exotic. Number two was the Ragdoll, and the third most popular was the British Shorthair.
  • Maine Coon cats may be born with six toes.
  • Siamese cats may appear to be cross-eyed because each eye is controlled by the opposite side of its brain, resulting in double vision. The cat will remedy this situation by “crossing” its eyes.
  • Although they don’t have fur, Sphinx cats maintain a body temperature four degrees higher than other cats.
  • Cat breeds including Maine Coon, Bengal and Turkish Van are said to enjoy the water (more than other cats, that is).
  • Every Scottish Fold cat living today can trace its heritage back to the first Scottish Fold, found in Scotland in the 1960s.

Trivia About Cats in Popular Culture

  • The first cat was launched into space in 1963 by the French. Her name was Felicette and she survived the 15-minute trip.
  • Cats have been featured in cartoons since 1919, when Felix the Cat made his debut. Next was Tom of Tom and Jerry, in 1940; followed by Sylvester in 1945, The Aristocats in 1970, Heathcliff in 1984, and Garfield in 1988.
  • Musician David Teie wrote an album called “Music for Cats” in 2015. These songs are designed to appeal specifically to cats, based on their vocal communication and environmental sounds that they prefer.
  • Many famous persons from history, such as Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, Pope Paul II and Florence Nightingale, owned and loved cats.
  • In fact, Abraham Lincoln had four pet cats in the White House. His wife said that his hobby was cats.
  • Those in history who are thought to have hated cats include Julius Caesar, Adolf Hitler, Napoleon and Genghis Khan.
  • The largest cat painting in the world, a 6-foot by 8.5-foot oil painting, sold in 2015 for over $820,000. It featured a depiction of a clowder of Turkish Angoras and Persians belonging to philanthropist Kate Birdsall Johnson, and was titled by her husband, “My Wife’s Lovers.”
  • In 1988, a millionaire left the majority of his $13 million estate to his cat, Blackie. He still holds the Guinness World Record for Wealthiest Cat.
  • The musical “Cats” is based on poet T.S. Eliot’s 1939 collection of poetry called Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.
  • Black cats are seen as good luck in countries other than the United States, such as Japan and Great Britain. In Germany, a black cat crossing your path from right to left is a good omen, while one crossing from left to right is a bad omen.
  • If you dream of a white cat, many people think that good luck will follow.

The next time you meet up with other cat-loving friends or family members, surprise them with your astonishing knowledge of cat trivia! They will surely be impressed!

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