One of the favorite pastimes of many cat owners is sitting and stroking their cat. This is a therapeutic activity for both the cat and their owner. While you have been running your hands through your cat’s coat, you may have wondered about their fur, especially if you have several cats and their coats feel different. Cat fur is actually quite a fascinating subject. Here are ten interesting facts that you did not know about cat fur.
1. They Have a Lot of Hair
If you have a cat that sheds a lot, then it may have crossed your mind about exactly how much hair a cat has, and the answer is a lot. In fact, the average cat has more than 130,000 hairs for every square inch of their body.
2. The Hair Has Different Parts
When you look at cat fur, it may just all seem the same. However, cat hairs consist of different parts. The main hair shaft consists of keratin. At the end of the hair is a root which sits in a follicle that is just below the outer layer of skin. The part of the cat fur you can see is the shaft as this is the exposed section.
3. Each Hair Has Three Layers
Each cat hair consists of three layers. The center of each hair contains a layer of cellular cavities which is then surrounded by tissue that contains melanin which is the substance that gives the cat fur its color. The top layer is the outer cuticle. This is a layer of harder cells that are arranged in a similar manner to roof tiles.
4. Sweat Glands Give Cat Fur Its Shine
If you have ever wondered why cats have glistening fur, it is because of what is going on below the skin. Each of the hair follicles that houses the root has its own tiny sweat gland. They secrete a thick substance that spreads along each hair to give it its shine.
5. The Fur Has Muscles Attached
The hair follicles have muscles attached to them that are called Arrector pili. When a cat is angry or frightened, you may have seen them arch their backs and make their hair stand on end. It is only because of the muscles that are attached to the hair follicles that they are able to make their fur do this.
6. Cats Have an Insulating Layer of Hair
The first layer of a cat’s fur is called the primary hairs. This is a layer of coarse, straight, thick guard hairs. These hairs taper to a thin tip. The purpose of the primary hairs is to insulate the cat’s body. Its other purposes are to assist the sense of touch and to protect the skin.
7. They Have Two More Layers of Fur
In addition to the primary hairs, a cat has two more layers of fur. The first is the medium-sized awn hairs. These also help to insulate the cat and protect its body. The second is the secondary hairs and these are located within the undercoat and there are more of these than the other types of fur. These help the cat to regulate its body temperature.
8. The Hairs Have Resting Phases
The hairs of a cat’s fur has resting phases in the growth cycle. In the summer months, approximately 30% of guard hairs and 50% of secondary hairs are in their resting phase. In the winter months, 75% of guard hairs and 90 % of secondary hairs are in their resting phase.
9. Cat Fur Grows Quickly
Cat fur is in a constant cycle of growing hair, having resting phases, and shedding the hair. It may seem like your cat sheds its hair a lot, but it is growing more just as quickly. The average growth rate of secondary hairs is 0.010 inches per day. Guard hairs have an average daily growth rate of 0.011 inches.
10. Cat Fur Color is Determined by Genes
The color of cat fur is dependent on its genetics and the genes that are passed down from its parents. This does not mean that all cats in one litter will have the same coat color because they share the same parents. It is a very complicated process that depends on whether the dominant or recessive genes for certain colorations are passed on to the cat. Some breeds are just one of two colors while other breeds have many color variations.