Cats are mysterious creatures. They live in our houses and sleep on our sofas, yet sometimes we feel like we don’t know them at all. Here are 10 surprising cat facts that even the most enthusiastic of cat lovers may not know:
1. The pattern on a cat’s nose is unique.
Just like a human fingerprint, the pattern of bumps and ridges on your cat’s nose is different to that of any other cat. Perhaps nose-printing could be used as a form of kitty-identification in the future.
2. Cats are asleep for two-thirds of the day.
This means that by the time your cat is nine years old, it will have been asleep for six years of its life! Cats need plenty of shut-eye to re-charge their batteries for hunting, and kittens and older cats need extra sleep.
3. Cats may have lowered their voices to talk to humans.
Some researchers believe that as cats have evolved they have lowered the pitch of their voices in order to communicate with us, as a cat’s natural vocal range would be too high for humans to hear.
4. The more you talk to your cat, the more it talks to you.
Cats rarely vocalise with other cats- most of their mewls and meows are for our benefit only, and the more you talk to them, the more they will communicate verbally with you!
5. Your cat’s hearing range is much better than yours.
Cats can hear sounds as high as 64 kHz, whereas we can only hear as high as 20 kHz. Legend has it that in the Dutch embassy in Russia, cats once helped staff to uncover microphones hidden in the walls by Russian spies. The cats could hear the microphones when they turned on, and started clawing and meowing at the walls!
6. Female cats are usually right-pawed, and male cats are left-pawed.
Just like we are right or left handed, cats favour one paw over the other. Which paw they choose is determined by their sex, although scientists aren’t completely sure why.
7. Your cat can drink sea water.
A cat’s kidneys are able to filter out the salt from sea water so that it can hydrate itself- useful if your cat ever finds itself stranded at sea.
8. Cats find their way home by ‘psi-travelling’.
It sounds like a super-power, and it is, sort of. Psi-travelling is the name given to the way that cats navigate their way home across long distances. Some experts think cats use the angle of sunlight to find their way back, while others think they have magnetised cells in their brains which act as a compass.
9. Cats can make like a parachute to land safely from great heights.
When cats fall from high places, they put their bodies into a parachute position to slow down their fall. Their acute sense of balance helps them to stay upright.
10. Cats can’t taste sugar.
Unlike dogs, cats can’t perceive sweetness. Sadly, your cat will never experience the joys of chocolate.
Sarah Gass works in association with the Cambridge cat clinic, a vet practice dedicated to the care and support for our feline friends.