Cats are one of the most popular pets around the world. Lithe, regal, dignified and fiercely independent, this furry bundle of joy and mischief wows us with their unconditional love. There are few facts about cats that simply stagger us and there are few facts about cats that makes us even crazier about them. Here are few facts that every cat owner should know.
1. Cats are more popular pets than dogs in America. There are 88 million cats compared to 74 million dogs.
The 2007 National Pet Owner’s survey found out that the pet ownership has increased and is at an all-time high in the United States. A whopping 71.1 million households, that’s 63% of all American households own at least one pet. Even though more houses prefer canine to the feline, the sheer number of cats outstrip the dogs due to many multi-cat homes.(source)
2. Evidence suggests domesticated cats have been around since 3600 B.C., 2,000 years before Egypt’s Pharaohs.
The skeleton of six cats, including four kittens suggests that the cats were domesticated much earlier than suspected. Archaeologists once believed that the wild cats were domesticated during the time of Pharaohs around, 4,800 years ago. But the bones found at Hierakonpolis, an ancient Egyptian Cemetery for the wealthy dating back to 3600 B.C and 3,800 B.C. suggests otherwise. (source)
3. Cats don’t have taste receptors that react to sweet things. This means that cats, from lions and tigers right down to domestic felines, cannot taste anything sweet.
A 2006 analysis of the cats tongue revealed the interesting fact that the felines cannot taste sweet owing to the fact that these animals do not need carbohydrates in their diet. In the early days, cats were living off a ‘carnivore-diet’ that excluded sweet flavors, a genetic mutation caused the loss of sweet tasting receptors – giving rise to new species of cats without sweet taste receptors on their tongue.(source)
4. The reason why cats have a vertical slit pupil is because they are ambush predators. The vertical slit pupil helps them to judge the depth so that they can leap at their prey.
Research published in the Journal of Science Advances suggests that nocturnal predators had a vertical slit pupil to gauge the distance for a prey snatching leap. The prey was endowed with a horizontal pupil that allowed them to scan the terrain for the predators and to keep a watch all around while sprinting from danger.(source)
5. A single cat produces 2-8 kittens in a litter. The prolific cat produces 2-3 litters per years, which mean that a single cat can produce 24 kittens per year! A cat can give birth to 100 kittens during her productive years. Therefore a single pair of cats and their kittens can produce as many as 420,000 kittens in just 7 years.
Female cats are prolific breeders. One female cat has the ability to produce 12 kittens per year (if not spayed). Climate plays an important role in the ovulation cycle of female cats. In a warmer climate, a kitty may go into heat all the year around. Each heat or Estrus cycle lasts about a week and repeats regularly every 2-3 weeks. An unchecked, free mating may result in your kitty giving birth to kittens thrice a year. Each pregnancy produces several kittens and each litter size ranges from 2-8 kittens. This means that a single kitty can produce 24 kittens in a year. (source)
6. When cats bring dead mice or birds back to their owners, “…they are teaching their human to hunt, or helping their human as if feeding ‘an elderly cat, or an inept kitten.'”
Ethologist Paul Leyhausen suggested that cats adopted the humans into their group and shared their kill in accordance with the dominance theory wherein humans were placed high or near the top. Desmond Morris, anthropologist, and Zoologist who wrote the book Catwatching hypothesized that cats are trying to teach the humans to hunt or to help like they do with other elderly or inept kitten. Morris hypothesis does not factor in the fact that male cats also bring in dead mice or birds, even though they have no role in the nurturing of the kittens.(source)