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If you ever thought your cat was a sly, complicated creature that seems to be keeping a secret or two from you…. Well… You’d be right! In fact, we’ve counted at least 20 amazing facts about your favorite feline friend that you never knew about. So read on, and learn what that purr really means.
Female cats are usually right-pawed.
After testing 42 cats—21 male and 21 female—psychologists D. Wells and S. Millsopp of Queen’s University Belfast determined that cat’s dominant paw is correlated with gender. For the record: Female cats? Right-pawed.
Cats have more than 20 muscles that control their ears.
Cats can hear even the slightest rustle because they have more than 20 muscles that control the exterior part of their ear, according to the book 100 Ways to Understand Your Cat. Also, a cat can figure out the source of the sound more accurately when it’s not moving—which explains why it often stops and listens, utterly frozen.
Cats sleep up to 70 percent of their lives.
Domestic cats do mostly one of four things: sleep, eat, run, or play. It turns out, sleeping takes up more time than the other three activities combined. With up to 70 percent of their lives dedicated to sleep, cats are among the top-sleeping in the animal world because, in the wild, they must use a lot of energy to hunt.
Cats can’t taste sweetness.
Cats are only interested in meat and are not tempted with sugar or spices. According to reporting by Scientific American, cats lack the ability to taste sweetness—unlike just about any other mammal.
Having a cat can reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke by up to 30 percent.
Having a cat helps release stress and anxiety, according to a report in The Telegraph, which is known to lower blood pressure and protect against heart problems.
A purr is a sign of self-healing.
The purr is often translated as a sign of contentment, but it may be more complex than that. Not all purring is related to pleasure—in some cases it reflects pain or nervousness. And some experts believe it’s a sign that their muscles and bones are recovering.
Cats are often lactose intolerant.
Even though most cats love milk, it doesn’t mean that milk loves them back. Cats have trouble digesting lactose, which can upset their stomachs and lead to diarrhea.
Raw fish can be bad for cats.
Another delicacy cartoons would have you believe cats love is raw fish, which may actually be bad for them, according to the pros at VetStreet. Uncooked fish can contain bacteria that are harmful to cats and can cause food poisoning. Also, an enzyme in raw fish destroys thiamine, an essential B vitamin, which can lead to neurological problems.
Cats can allegedly make more than 100 different sounds.
There’s the hiss, the meow, the purr, and (when in heat) the caterwaul—and dozens of variations of each. In comparison, dogs can make only 10 distinct noises. Cats can also communicate through body language, biting, scent signals, and interactions.
Cats and humans have similar emotion centers in the brain.
You have more in common with your cat than you may realize. Both human and cat brains are composed of gray and white matter. What’s more, according to reporting by Petful, cats tend to think in the same pattern as humans and, like us, have a long- and short-term memory.
Cats are likely smarter than dogs.
The cerebral cortex of cats—the part of the brain that is responsible for cognitive information processing—is much more complex in felines than in canines. It also contains twice as many neurons as dogs. Additionally, cats have proven to be better at complex problem-solving than their rival pet.
A cat can jump six times its length.
Just look at any series of YouTube cat videos: They can jump really, really far. By some estimates, felines can traverse six times their body length in a single bound! Cats have powerful muscles in their back legs that help them leap far (fun fact: they use their tail for balance). That is why they have no problem jumping on tabletops and even in some case to the top of the refrigerator.
When cats leave their poop uncovered, it’s a sign of aggression.
Cats are territorial by nature and use urine and other signals to demonstrate dominance or a higher position on the hierarchy. In colonies, subordinate cats cover their poop, while dominant cats leave feces uncovered.
Cats sweat through their foot pads.
Like dogs, sweat glands are only found on cats’ paws. You can often find wet spots from their paws when they are sweating in the hot months. But more often, when they’re hot, cats look for a cool place to lay down.
Cats can detect odors even if they are diluted to one partper million. Cats rub to other cats and people to pass their scent and collect yours. When they are licking themselves they are carefully removing your scent from their fur—nothing personal.
Cats see better than humans at night.
Cats have a high number of rods in their retina that are very sensitive to dim light. So they can see using about one-sixth of the light humans need in order to see. But it comes with drawbacks: As shown in a photo experiment by photographer Nickolay Lamm, they cannot see finer details or rich color.
Cats rub against people to mark their territory.
When they rub themselves on a person or object, cats leave their own personal scent behind. That way, according to the Humane Society, they tell other cats that they have been here and you are in their territory.
Changes in routine make cats ill.
When cats experience an unusual event, like a change in feeding schedule, caretaker, or location, they can start acting sick. They can vomit or refuse to eat. Cats love their routine and any disruption can lead to lethargy and unusual behavior.
Cats use their whiskers in crazy ways.
A cat’s whiskers are covered in nerve cells and blood vessels helping it detect any change around it, according to the Veterinary Centers of America. They span about the width of its body, so cats use them to detect if they can fit into a space.