If you’ve ever spent any time in the company of cats, you know they are fascinating creatures. Their behavior is sweet, amusing, and sometimes confusing for humans. Whether you’re an established cat lover, or still learning about these remarkable animals, we’ve collected 20 fun facts about cats that are sure to surprise you!
Maybe you’re curious about cat anatomy and fun historical facts about cats, or maybe you find cat behavior and record-winning cats to be more interesting. Whatever you love about felines, we’re sure this list of cat facts will leave you with admiration for these amazing pets. Read on to learn all about cats!
5 Fun Facts About Cat Anatomy
The anatomy of our feline friends is full of fascinating little bits of information. Ever wondered how a cat has such good balance? Or, why do they have those beautiful whiskers? Spoiler: they aren’t just for looks! Read on for more fun facts about cats and their anatomy.
The Remarkable Cat Tail
Most cat owners see their feline’s tail as a mood indicator – when the tip of that tail starts whipping around, watch out. You’ve got a sassy kitty on your hands! A gently floating sway to the tail means they are feeling relaxed and maybe even ready for some cuddles. But a cat’s tail is more than just a way to see how they feel – it’s also a really remarkable part of their anatomy. Almost 10 percent of all the bones in a cat’s body are located in its tail!
The many bones in a kitty's tail help your cat with agility. You’ve probably seen your cat perform an Olympics-worthy balancing act on the narrow bookshelf or back of the couch. Their tail helps with that impressive feat because it acts as a counterbalance – sort of like how we lift our arms out to the sides of our body to help us balance on a narrow surface.
Why the Rough Tongue?
If a cat has ever given you a lick on the hand, you know their tongue is unique. The rough, sandpapery texture has an important purpose. Like so many parts of cat anatomy, the rough tongue is derived from the domestic cat’s days in the wild – but they still use it to take care of themselves.
That rough texture is actually a series of barbs on your cat’s tongue. When cats groom themselves, those little spears gather up all kinds of unwanted debris like mites, dander, dust, and extra fur. Your cat eats all this stuff to keep her coat clean and shiny. Gross, but effective! The rough tongue also helps clean the bones of prey for cats in the wild.
A Litter of Kittens Can Include Half Brothers and Half Sisters
When a single litter of kittens is born, we might assume that all those kittens came from the same mom and dad. But that’s not always true! This is certainly one of the more weird facts about cats and kittens.
Unlike humans, who typically release a single egg when they ovulate (sometimes two, in the case of twins), female cats actually release many eggs over the course of their heat, which can last a few days. If she mates with more than one male during this time, her litter might have a few kittens from one father and a few kittens from another.
The Twisting, Turning Cat Ear
Ever seen your cat’s ears perk up or twist in response to a sound? The cat ear is a remarkable part of cat anatomy. Felines have 64 muscles in their ears – 32 in each one – and they can use these muscles to turn their ears around 180 degrees! This muscular marvel is another evolutionary development that helped wild cats be excellent hunters.
The Purpose of Kitty Whiskers
Those delicate whiskers on your cat’s face are certainly pretty, but they also serve a very important purpose. Cat whiskers are a navigational tool for our feline friends.
The whiskers are actually a sort of external part of a cat’s nerves and muscles. They go pretty deep into a cat’s body, far beyond the surface of the skin, and they send messages about what’s around the cat. Whiskers are especially useful for cats at night, giving them even better hunting skills in the dark.
Also, did you know those kitty whiskers aren’t only located on that precious feline face? Cats also have whiskers on the backs of their two hind legs.
5 Historical Facts About Cats
From ancient Egypt to colonial America, cats have played an important role in human history. These creatures have fascinated us for a long time. Here are some fun facts about cats throughout history.
Fun Facts About Cats in the White House
We hear a lot about the First Dogs, but you don’t hear as much about the many cats that have graced the White House. As early as 1861, cats were present in this historic building. President Abraham Lincoln was a serious cat lover and had several pet cats during his terms as president. More recently, President Bill Clinton had a White House cat named Socks. Rumor has it that Socks got more fan mail than President Clinton.
Why Cats Were Brought to America
Cats were not yet domestic pets when they arrived in colonial America. They were actually brought here on ships because they were in charge of rodent control. Cats also worked at protecting food stores for the US Army in the 1800s. Their ability to catch rats made them a popular choice for anyone who needed a food guard.
The Magical Cats of Egypt
Ancient Egyptians had a lot of respect and reverence for felines. Egyptians loved these animals and even thought they were magical, honoring them with special treatment and mummifying them when they died. When a person’s cat died, it was common practice to shave one’s eyebrows to indicate that they were grieving the loss of their pet.
Cosmic Cats in Space
One of the more amazing facts about cats: felines have even explored the great beyond! In 1963, a cat named Félicette was launched into space in a rocket by French researchers. She was trained for the mission and had electrodes mounted on her skull so the researchers could monitor her brain activity in space. Felicette was in space for about 13 minutes, and for 5 of those minutes, she was weightless. She survived the mission!
The Cat Who Wrote a Physics Paper
A cat named Chester is the official co-author of a physics paper published in 1975. When Professor Jack Hetherington submitted his manuscript to the Physical Review Letters, he was dismayed to learn that his use of the phrase “we” throughout the paper was going to keep him from being published, because he was the only true author.
This was in the days of typewriters, so going through and changing all the “we” references to “I” would have been quite a task. Instead, the professor added the initials of a co-author: FDC, or Felis Domesticus Chester. Chester was the professor’s Siamese cat, and the first and last feline to publish a physics article.
5 Interesting Facts About Cat Behavior
Cats are a constant source of entertainment. Cat owners see their pets doing strange things every day – chirping at birds, rubbing, purring, and frequent sleeping are all common cat behaviors. But why do felines take part in all these activities? Here are some fun facts about cat behavior.
Cats Are Basically Small Tigers
Our domesticated cats are very closely related to the huge, predatory tigers that live in the wild. In fact, tigers and house cats share more than 95 percent of their genetic material. This influences a lot of cat behaviors that might not seem necessary for a house cat. Your kitty gets his food in a bowl each morning and night, but he still has a lot of hunting behaviors from his tiger days. This is why cats do things like territory marking with urine, pouncing, and stalking “prey” (usually their toys or a laser pointer).
Cats Show Trust With Their Butts
While cat butts aren’t exactly the most attractive thing, you might have noticed your cat shows you his quite often. You should be flattered!
When a cat sticks their hind end somewhere close to you, they’re showing their trust and comfort. That’s a vulnerable position that a cat wouldn’t put himself in unless he knew he was safe.
The Constant Cat Naps
Cats are pretty amazing sleepers. Humans need an average of 8 hours of sleep a night, and that results in spending about a third of our lives asleep. Cats, on the other hand, get about 15 hours of sleep every day – which means they spend nearly 75 percent of their lives asleep!
The Healing Power of a Cat Purr
Purring is thought to have soothing and healing properties for a cat. Purring is a vibration around 25 to 150 hertz. This frequency is thought to have health benefits like reducing stress and even repairing soft tissue.
Cats are not the only animals that purr – purrs can also come from raccoons, mongooses, and guinea pigs. This behavior is known to indicate both happiness and nervousness in a cat, and purring will almost always stop abruptly when a cat hears running water.
The loudest purr ever was recorded in the UK in 2015, when Melvin’s mighty purr registered at 67.8 decibels!
Your Cat Is Rubbing Hormones on You
Most cat owners love having their kitty rub against their legs or hands. This sweet behavior also has a purpose. Your cat is marking you with his scent to show ownership.
This behavior is called bunting. Your cat rubs pheromones from her head onto your skin to mark her territory – you!
5 Fun Facts About Record-Holding Cats
We all like to hear about extremes, and there are certainly many in the cat world. From oldest to fattest to richest, here are some fun facts about cats who have set records.
The Oldest Cat
While the average cat lifespan is about 12-17 years, there have been some record holders who far exceeded this expectation. The Guinness World Records record holder is Creme Puff, a Texas cat who lived to be just over 38 years old. The oldest cat grave to be discovered was on the Greek island of Cyprus, and it was about 9500 years old. How amazing to think humans have had a special bond with cats for almost 10,000 years!
The Richest Cat
Throughout history, many cat lovers have left their fortunes to their beloved feline pets. A cat named Blackie was one such lucky kitty, inheriting about $13 million when his human companion died in 1988. While Blackie is the Guinness World Record holder for richest cat, there are rumors that late internet icon Grumpy Cat might have a greater net worth because of his highly marketable scowl.
The Fattest Cat
The Australian cat Himmy is known as the world’s fattest cat. He weighed almost 47 pounds when he died in 1986.
Himmy only lived to be about 10, and he likely could have lived much longer if he’d eaten a healthy diet and stayed at a normal weight. One of the most important things to know about cats is that keeping their weight within a normal range is really important for their comfort and wellness!
The Fastest House Cat
Cheetahs are by far the fastest of the feline family, but there are some speedy housecats, too! The average housecat can run around 30 miles an hour for a short sprint.
When it comes to speed among domestic cat breeds, the Egyptian Mau takes the cake. The big hind legs of this kitty have earned them the nickname “Feline Greyhound.” Those hind legs also make them great jumpers!
The Largest Litter of Domestic Kittens
In 1970, a litter of 19 kittens was born to a cat in the UK. Four of the kittens were stillborn, and almost all of the living kittens were boys – only a single female in the whole lot! A bonus fun cat fact: We usually use the word litter to refer to a group of kittens, but you can also call it a kindle.
Share These Fun Cat Facts With Fellow Animal Lovers!
By sharing these fun facts about cats, we hope we’ve inspired you to adopt a new feline family member! If not, another way to support the amazing kitties of the world is by supporting, donating, or volunteering at your local animal shelter or rescue organization. Cats are pretty cool and they deserve our admiration and fascination.