There are a lot of interesting facts that can be found about cats. As a result, it can be worthwhile to some of this information with kids as well as other people so as to help them understand one of the most beloved pets on the planet that much better. Here are 20 examples of cat facts that are more shareable than most:
No One Knows the Exact Origins of the House Cat
People like to make jokes that call the domestication status of the cat into question. However, there can be no doubt about the fact that the cat is indeed domesticated. With that said, it is interesting to note that it is unclear when the domestication of the cat happened. Primarily, this is because the remains of the domesticated cat looks much the same as the remains of its wild counterpart, meaning that figuring out the exact time as well as the exact place of the cat’s domestication is something of a challenge to say the least.
Cyprus Shed Some Light on the Earliest Domestication of the Cat
Of course, to say that something is challenging is not the same as saying that it is impossible. For example, a fair amount of information has been uncovered about the domestication of the cat because of a find on the island of Cyprus. In short, a grave containing a human as well as a cat suggests that the domestication of the cat happened at least 9,500 years ago because the inclusion of the cat suggests that it was a much beloved companion like its modern counterparts. This is particularly true because of Cyprus’s status as an island, meaning that someone would’ve brought either that cat or that cat’s predecessors with them via boat, which would’ve been pointless with wild cats.
Current Speculation Is that Domestication of the Cat Happened 12,000 Years Ago
Currently, there is a popular line of speculation that the domestication of the cat happened at around 12,000 years ago in the Near East. There isn’t a great deal of physical evidence to suggest this speculation, but it is based on a sensible-sounding chain of reasoning. After all, 12,000 years ago was the time when people started settling down in preference for becoming farmers rather than remaining as hunter-gatherers, thus creating the conditions favorable for the domestication of the cat.
It Is Not a Coincidence That Cats Were Domesticated Later Than Dogs
It is unclear when dogs were domesticated. Some people think that dogs were domesticated in Europe 15,000 years ago, whereas other think that dogs were domesticated in either China or Central Asia 12,500 years ago. There are even some people who think that both theories might be correct because they believe that the dog might have been domesticated more than once. Whatever the case, it is no coincidence that the dog was domesticated so much earlier than the cat. This is because dogs would’ve been useful when humans were still hunter-gatherers. In contrast, cats weren’t useful until humans started storing surplus food from their harvests over long periods of time.
Cats Domesticated Themselves
Some species are domesticated through conscious effort. Others, not so much. The second seems to have been the case with the cat, seeing as how some scientists have suggested that they more or less domesticated themselves. Essentially, what might have happened is that the storage of surplus food created a bountiful food source for rats, which in turn, created a bountiful food source for cats. As a result, cats invited themselves into human settlements, where evolutionary pressures caused them to become friendlier and friendlier towards humans until their current status as companion animals.
Cats Aren’t As Genetically Malleable As Dogs
There can be huge differences between different dog breeds. For example, if one didn’t know the relationship between the Caucasian Shepherd and the Chihuahua, most people wouldn’t expect that the two were considered to be the same species. In contrast, while there are differences between different cat breeds, those differences are nowhere near as dramatic in nature. This isn’t because of a lack of interest in shaping how cats look. Instead, this is because dogs have certain genetic quirks that make them capable of changing their traits faster than most animals, whereas cats are nowhere near as genetically malleable as their canine counterparts, though that makes them no less lovable.
There Is Something Called a Squitten
Speaking of which, it is interesting to note that there is a kind of cat called a squitten, which is the result of the two words “squirrel” and “kitten” being smooshed together. Such cats are called thus because they have shorter forelegs and longer hindlegs than normal, thus providing them with a curious posture that looks like that of the squirrel. Unfortunately, this creates problems for the squittens, with an excellent example being how the kittens have a hard time feeding because of their problems with kneading using their shorter forelegs. As a result, cat lovers tend to get very upset whenever someone attempts to breed squittens on purpose, which is a very understandable reaction on their part.
There Is a Cat Breed Called the Munchkin Cat
With that said, there is a breed of cat called the Munchkin Cat, which is notable in that it has shorter than normal legs. This is a mutation that has popped up in the cat population from time to time, but the breed comes from a coincidental find that happened in the United States in the 1980s. When the Munchkin Cat was recognized as a new breed, there was a huge uproar at the time because of concerns that the cats would have the same sort of spinal problems as short-legged dogs. As a result, there are still organizations that refuse to recognize Munchkin Cats on ethical grounds. Curiously, Munchkin Cats don’t seem to share their canine counterparts’ spinal problems, though they are more susceptible to other issues such as a hollowed chest as well as an increased curvature of their spine than most other cats.
Cats See Better and Worse Than Humans
It is interesting to note that an argument can be made that cats see both better and worse than humans. This is because cats have a sense of vision that is superior than that of humans under specific circumstances. For example, cats have much better night vision than humans, which makes sense considering their prey of choice. However, the downside is that cats aren’t as good as humans at seeing colors, meaning that there are areas in which humans can claim without exaggeration that they are ahead of cats sense-wise. Summed up, it can be said that cats have different advantages than humans, meaning that there isn’t a simple and straightforward answer to the question of whether cats or humans have better eyes.
Japan Has a Lot of Short-Tailed Cats
Japan is odd in that its cat population has a higher than normal percentage of cats who have short tails. Some people have speculated that this might be connected to Japanese beliefs that cats with long tails possessed the power to bewitch their owners, which resulted in Japanese cat owners in older times docking their cats’ tails. Of course, this wouldn’t have had an effect on the tail length of Japanese cats because Lamarckianism is nonsense, but it does mean that there would have been huge selection pressures for short-tailed cats over long-tailed cats. Of course, there is no way of telling for sure that this was the reason that Japan has a higher percentage of short-tailed cats than normal, but whatever the case, something caused the phenomenon to happen, which is a stand-out characteristic of said animals in the present.
Japanese Cats Used to Lick Lamp Oil
Speaking of Japanese stories about cats, the ancient Japanese used to be quite concerned about the idea of their cats turning into supernatural monsters. Sometimes, cats were said to become supernatural monsters upon reaching a certain age. Other times, cats were said to become supernatural monsters when they were mistreated. Whatever the case, the ancient Japanese believed that cats licking the lamp oil was a serious warning sign that a transformation was nearing, perhaps because it must have made for a rather ominous sight. There are a number of potential explanations for why cats used to lick lamp oil in ancient Japan. For example, some people think that cats licked at the lamp oil because it was derived from fish, which would’ve been particularly important for them from a nutritional perspective because they were fed from the leftovers of their owners. Since the ancient Japanese ate a predominantly vegetarian diet, this meant that ancient Japanese cats would’ve needed some source of animal protein as well as other important nutrients, thus licking the lamp oil.
The Beckoning Cat Is Japanese
With that said, the Japanese image of the cat is far from being wholly negative. For proof, look no further than the beckoning cat, which is something that makes frequent appearances in Japanese businesses as well as other East Asian businesses. Those who are not wholly familiar with the name should know that it refers to the cat figurines with one paw raised as though to welcome potential customers to their businesses, which are supposed to bless their owners with luck. No one really knows how the beckoning cat came to be, but perhaps unsurprisingly, there are a number of stories that have sprung up to fill in the gap. For example, the beckoning cat is sometimes said to be a starving cat taken in by a poor businessman, who chose to repay the kindness by bringing in new customers for its new owner.
There Is a Hilarious Hebrew Legend About the Creation of the Cat
There is a very amusing Hebrew legend about how the cat was created. In short, when Noah was on the Ark with all of the animals that he had rescued, he was concerned about the rats eating all of the food that he had stockpiled. As a result, he very sensibly asked God for help with resolving his problem, which soon convinced God to intervene by causing the lion to sneeze. After which, the cat popped into existence, thus providing Noah with a convenient way to protect the food that he had stockpiled by keeping a predatory eye on the pests that would threaten it.
The Cat Missed Out on Getting Into the Chinese Zodiac
A lot of people are familiar to some extent with the Chinese zodiac signs, which are based on animals rather than mythological figures. However, people who looked through the list of animals might be surprised to see that there is no cat, which seems like a rather strange omission. The stories that are told about the choosing of the animals for the Chinese zodiac tend to explain it as the Jade Emperor of the Chinese pantheon holding a meeting to determine which animals would be included in it. Unfortunately for the Cat, the Rat tricked it by telling it that the meeting wasn’t happening before going on to become the first animal in the Chinese zodiac by tricking the Ox to carry it most of the way to the meeting before jumping off at the last moment to get there first. Unfortunately for the Rat, the Cat reacted poorly to being tricked, which is why the two animals now have their antagonistic relationship.
But It Did Manage to Get Into the Vietnamese Zodiac
The Vietnamese zodiac is based on the Chinese zodiac. However, it has a notable difference in that the Vietnamese zodiac includes the Cat, which has replaced the Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac. In fact, even the traits associated with the Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac have become associated with the Cat in the Vietnamese zodiac. The exact reason that this happened is unclear, though it is striking because none of the other zodiacs based on the Chinese zodiac feature the Cat. Some people have suggested that it might be because the ancient Vietnamese word for Cat resembled that of the ancient Vietnamese word for Rabbit, seeing as how it was Meo compared to Mao.
The Prophet Muhammad Loved Cats
It is interesting to note that the Islamic prophet Muhammad was a huge fan of cats. For example, a lot of hadiths claim that Muhammad forbade the persecution of cats. Never mind the actual killing of cats. Furthermore, one of Muhammad’s companions is remembered as Abu Hurairah, which is a teknonym meaning “Father of Kittens,” which is such a popular way of referring to said individual that there is actually some disagreement on what his real name was. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Abu Harairah was also a huge fan of cats, so much so that he once claimed that Muhammad had said that a woman would be condemned to hell for starving a cat. Even now, cats still claim a special status in Islam, seeing as how they are considered to be ritually clean animals, which is not something that can be claimed by dogs.
Cats Are Great At Surviving Falls
Cats are famous for surviving falls of significant height. In fact, there are literally proverbs about the phenomenon, as shown by the one about cats always landing on their feet. Something that is perhaps unsurprising considering the species’s arboreal tendencies. Simply put, since cats spent so much time in the trees, they became well-adapted for surviving falls from those heights because those that couldn’t had lower chances of passing on their traits to future generations. For obvious reasons, scientists can’t test the exact chances of a cat’s survival when it falls from great heights, but we still know a fair amount about the various reasons that contribute to it. For example, there is the cat’s famous righting mechanism that enables it to reorient itself for the purpose of landing on its feet, which is something that it shares with some other arboreal species. Furthermore, there is the cat’s ability to spread out its legs to increase the air resistance to its falling body, thus reducing the severity of the impact that it suffers upon landing. Finally, it should be noted that cats have low body weight compared to their surface area, meaning that they are hit nowhere near as hard as most other animals when they fall.
Cats Don’t Meow Much When Communicating with Other Cats
Meowing is something that sees use in communications between cats. However, its use in cat-to-cat communications is limited, as shown by the fact that cats stop meowing to other cats once they are no longer kittens that need to get their mothers’ attention. As a result, it is no exaggeration to say that cats have re-purposed the meow for cat-to-human communications, where it sees a surprising range of uses. For example, shorter, more pleasant-sounding meows are used to communicate more positive sentiments, whether serving as the cat equivalent of an amicable “hello” or serving as a much more enthusiastic version of the same. In contrast, louder, angrier meows as well as related sounds are meant to communicate displeasure of some sort. For example, a cat might use a drawn-out mrroww to ask a human to do something for it. Likewise, a cat might use a much more high-pitched mrroww either when it is angered or when someone has stepped on its tail. This variation can make it difficult for people to understand exactly what it is that their cat wants, but it seems to be something that cat owners get better at over time, which is perhaps unsurprising considering that is the meow’s primary purpose for the modern house cat.
Cats Might Be a Bit Too Good At Being Predators Sometimes
There is an ongoing debate about whether dogs should be counted as either carnivores or omnivores. In contrast, there can be no doubt about the fact that cats are carnivorous in nature. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that cats are excellent predators, which should be clear to anyone who has ever watched a cat take down a small bird, mammal, or reptile even when there was no need for them to do so. Unfortunately, the cat’s status as an excellent predator can actually be a bad thing. In short, cats do what is called surplus killing, which is when a predator kills more prey animals than what they can actually eat. Sometimes, this is thought to be because the predator is practicing its hunting abilities. Other times, other people have suggested that the predator might be creating a food source that they can come back to once they get hungry again. Whatever the case, surplus killing has caused a lot of wildlife species to become endangered once cats are introduced to once cat-free ecosystems, particularly in places where there were no cat equivalents before their presence. With that said, it should be noted that cats tend to be but one of the problems confronting said wildlife species, with another much more common and much more serious problem being the loss of habitats. For that matter, the solution is not as simple as removing cats from such environments because their absence can create an increase in the number of rats and other pest species, which can have a negative impact on the endangered wildlife species as well.
Milk Is Bad For Cats
Cats are often depicted as lapping up milk, but it should be noted that this tends to be a bad idea for most cats out there. This is because most cats are lactose intolerant, meaning that they can’t digest the milk that come their way. Something that can lead to gas, diarrhea, and stomach pains. Of course, there are also some cats that can digest milk with no problems whatsoever. For these cats, milk is still fine, though there are still a lot of other foods that humans eat that should be considered off-limits for them, with examples ranging from garlic to chocolate. Fortunately, cats aren’t huge fans of chocolate because they can’t taste the sweetness, which is why they are not as prone to chocolate poisoning as their canine counterparts.