- Cats weren’t domesticated by the Egyptians; genetics trace the first domesticated cats to about 8000 BCE in the Middle East.
- The very first felids (progenitors of big cats and house cats) appeared 25 million years ago.
- The Egyptian Mau is thought to be the oldest breed of domesticated cat.
- Domestication of cats occurred at about the same time that agriculture began to develop, which makes sense: agriculture attracts mice and rats, mice and rats attract cats, cats do humans a service by keeping pest populations under control, humans decide cats are pretty cool and begin to care for them.
- From the original domesticated cat, about 40 recognized breeds have developed.
- Felids are the strictest carnivores out of all of the entire order Carnivora – no vegetarian diets for kitties, please!
- Cats are “leapers” – their powerful hind legs allow them to jump up to five times their height in a single bound. The only exception is the cheetah, which is built for running instead of jumping.
- Cats can run over 30 mph over short distances.
- Cats do NOT always land on their feet when they fall, but they are often able to because of their “righting reflex;” their eyes and inner ear cooperate to help them keep track of which was is up so they can twist around and land safely.
- Cats’ hearing is more sensitive than dogs’ (and FAR more sensitive than humans’)
- Cats’ vision is a mixed bag; their night vision is far more sensitive than humans’, but they don’t see color as vividly. It’s thought that cats can only see a few of the colors that humans can.
- When cats purr, muscles in their larynx vibrate about 25 times per second. They can purr while inhaling and exhaling, and purring may even accelerate the healing process.
- There’s a name for the floofy hair that cats have in their ears: “ear furnishings.” Aside from being cute, it helps direct sound into the ear and keep dirt and disease out.
- Cats can’t taste sweet!
- Indoor cats live, on average, 15-17 years; outdoor cats only average 3-5 years.
- Feline leukemia and FIV are common in populations of indoor/outdoor or outdoor cats; both are incurable and fatal.
- Cats are notorious for disguising symptoms of illness or injury, which makes it especially important that they be examined by a vet at least once a year – not just when they’re showing signs of illness or discomfort!
- Many cats are picky about drinking water from a bowl; some prefer moving water and some get almost all of their moisture from their food. If your cat is bad about drinking, a canned food diet is important to prevent urinary infection and blockage.
- Clay cat litter – the stuff that looks like little gray rocks – is a cancer risk for your cat. It is made out of silica, and the dust that billows up when you pour litter into the box (and every time your cat scratches in it) is a known carcinogen. Switch to an all-natural, safe litter; there are many on the market! We use pine pellet litter with our cats.
- Change is tough for cats, and it just gets tougher the older they get. Try to make any changes as gradually as you can – from introducing a new family member to moving the litter box.
- When cats rub their faces against someone or something, they are marking territory; they have a scent gland in their cheeks. Take it as a compliment when a cat likes you enough to “claim” you!
- Unlike dogs, cats are instinctively inclined to potty train themselves! Their drive to bury their waste is a throwback to their wild ancestry; burying is a way to disguise their presence from possible predators (or prey).
- Even the cuddliest house cats are hunters at heart; cat toys let them act out their hunting instincts in a fun way! If your cat is stalking or pouncing on you, he might be telling you he needs more playtime.
- Cats are capable of producing about 100 different sounds; dogs can only produce about 10.
- Cats love to perch! High-up perches are a comfort zone for most cats, where they can feel secure while they scope out their domain.
- Cats love dens and hidey holes! Ever wonder why cardboard boxes are so popular with our feline friends? It’s simply because they’re a common (and fun) enclosed spot to sit in.
- Scratching is a natural and essential behavior for cats – it stretches the muscles and tendons in their legs, and allows them to mark territory. It is impossible to train a cat not to scratch at all, but it is easy to train a cat to scratch on appropriate things…a scratching post, for example, instead of your couch!
- Unlike human fingernails, which could be removed without damaging the finger, cats’ claws are fused to the bones of their toes. The procedure of declawing is the amputation of the full last joint on each toe; it is far more serious than most people realize.
- Cats are digitigrades, meaning that they walk on tip-toes all the time. Because of this, the practice of declawing – which removes the full last joint on each toe – can seriously impact their agility, balance, and joint alignment.
- Declawing is illegal or considered an inhumane practice in over 24 nations around the world; in Israel, you can get up to a year in prison for declawing a cat.
- Studies have shown residual pain in declawed cats’ paws up to 8 years after the surgery (that’s not necessarily when the pain ended, it’s just when the study ended).
- Declawed cats frequently stop using the litter box in the years following the surgery due to the pain in their paws caused by scratching in litter; once the cat has developed an association between the pain in its paws and the litter box, it will begin using softer surfaces that cause less discomfort instead – things like furniture, clothing, and carpet. This is often the reason that declawed cats are given up for adoption.
- Another common behavior problem with declawed cats is excessive aggression and biting. Without their claws as a main line of defense, cats turn to biting as a response to any perceived threat, and because they feel so vulnerable, almost anything can seem threatening.
- Declawed cats are less likely to tolerate the presence of other pets in the home.
- There are many alternatives to declawing, including training, nail trimming, and nail caps like Soft Paws, all of which allow your cat’s feet and your furniture to remain intact!
- Cats can reproduce when they are just 4 months old, and have 2 or more litters of kittens a year. On average, a litter contains 6 kittens.
- In just 7 years, one cat, her mate, and their offspring can produce 420,000 cats.
- For every person born in the US, 45 kittens are born; for every cat to have a person to care for it, every person would have to care for 45 cats.
- Every year in the US, 5-7 million pets enter shelters; less than half of them are ever adopted.
- Shelter euthanasia is the #1 cause of death for house cats. Although we maintain a 90% or higher placement rate at WHS, the national placement rate is closer to 30%; most cats do not get as lucky as the ones in our care.
- Spay and neuter are the ONLY way to reduce homelessness and shelter euthanasia! Always always ALWAYS have your cats fixed; even one litter adds to the millions of cats waiting for homes in the US every year.
- Feral – or wild – cats need to be fixed, too! We take in hundreds of kittens from feral moms every year. Most shelters and rescues offer Trap-Neuter-Return programs that round up feral cats, fix them, and return them to their original locations. These programs are almost all free, or extremely low-cost, for the cats’ caretakers.
- Our cat adoption fees range from $20 (seniors) to $50 (kittens); that fee includes a spay or neuter surgery, one or more rounds of vaccines, a blood test for feline leukemia and FIV, deworming, and one or more doses of topical flea/tick prevention – an estimated value of $400-$600. Adoption is a good deal, no matter how you slice it!
- Black cats wait longer to be adopted than their more colorful counterparts, partly due to superstition, but partly due to simply being overlooked in a sea of “fancier” cats, and partly due to how difficult it is to capture their features in photographs for web postings.
- You CAN find pure-bred cats at humane societies and rescues! 25% of pets who enter shelters are pure-bred.
- Approximately 70% of the animals WHS takes in in a year are cats and kittens.
- Because we have no time limit on any of the pets in our care, many of our cats wait a long time for their forever home to come along. Our current longest-term resident is Persephone, a black and white cat who has been at WHS since March 21, 2011. In the past, cats have waited upwards of 4 years to find a home.
- Making the move to a new home can be very difficult for cats; it is not uncommon for them to hide, decrease their food intake, and duke it out with other pets for days or weeks as they settle in. Give a new cat at least a week to adjust before you decide it’s not working out!