Our furry little feline friends might not be like most of our four legged friends, but they are capable of providing us with warmth and comfort during our desperate times. Did you know that unlike dogs, cats domesticated themselves? While they might be bossy most of the time, they can be affectionate and can also have an independent personality. Whatever the excuses we make to love them, they are indeed the most popular pets in the Unites States. There are more than 86 million cats who are pets in the US, compared to 78 million owned dogs. Here are some ridiculously cool facts about your feline friend, that will make you appreciate them even more.
1. Studies show that cats are capable of recognizing their owner’s voice (but choose to ignore it).
In 2013, Japanese researchers wanted to find out whether our feline friends actually recognize their owner’s voice. Their study, which spanned over several months with various participants, found that cats do indeed recognize their owner’s voice, they just don’t bother to react to it. The experiment included 20 house cats, who were played recordings of their owners’ voices. Researchers also played recordings of strangers’ voices and during both instances, their movements were recorded.
Researchers also observed how often their eyes dilated and their ears, tails and heads moved when the voices were played. At the end of the study, researchers found that when the owners’ voices were played, the cats made significant moves, whereas no movement was recorded when the stranger’s voice was played. However, researchers also observed that while they recognized the voices, they did not bother to get up or respond. As The Independent explains, researchers believe that the cats’ dismissive attitudes are a product of their evolutionary history over the past 9,000 years. (source)
2. Although many cultures consider black cats to be a symbol of bad luck, they are said to be good hunters.
For centuries, black cats have been considered bad luck and have been associated with witchcraft. Although many speculations and myths have been circulating about these furballs, there is nothing bad about them. In many cultures, just seeing a black cat or having one cross your path is considered to be a symbol of bad luck, but there are plenty of places where black cats aren’t bad luck at all. In Japan, if you’re a single woman, owning a black cat is said to increase your number of suitors. In Germany, if one crosses your path from right to left, then good things are on the horizon.
Apart from that, the felines are considered a sailor’s best friend. Not only are cats considered good luck aboard a ship, black cats in particular are believed to ensure a safe return home. The cats also help keep the mice population aboard the ship under control. According to AZ Central, “Black cats are more closely related to their wild ancestors than other cats. The idea is that being black made them harder to see, so they were among the last to be domesticated”. Thus, black cats are said to be good hunters. (source)
3. Félicette or “Astrocat” is the first and only cat who has been to space and also managed to successfully make a parachute descent.
Unlike domesticated house cats who are carefully chosen to be part of a huge achievement in the field of science, Félicette was a street cat in Paris. She was plucked off the streets and trained to be an astronaut. During the early 60’s, France’s Centre d’Enseignement et de Recherches de Médecine Aéronautique (CERMA) chose a few dozen cats, but Félicette ultimately proved to be worthy of the mission. After several tests, including being strapped in a compression chamber, Félicette was finally ready for her space mission.
On October 1963, she was placed inside a Véronique rocket and launched from a base in the Sahara desert. Félicette flew about 100 miles above Earth and spent several minutes in zero gravity, while scientists studied her brain activity. During the descent, the capsule containing Félicette detached from the rocket and she safely parachuted down to Earth. The trip lasted for approximately 15 minutes before Félicette was back in the arms of French scientists. (source)
4. Cats have extremely sensitive ears and are capable of detecting high-pitched whistles far beyond human and dog hearing.
Unlike human and dog ears, the ears of cats are a marvel of feline engineering. According to Animal Planet, their ears are like a sophisticated satellite dish that is capable of turning towards the source to identify even the tiniest of squeaks. We do know that dogs can detect high-pitched noises but studies show that cats are capable of detecting far more than dogs. If only their ability could be put to good use.
Cats can also detect the slightest changes in sounds, distinguishing differences of as little as one-tenth of a tone. This allows them to understand the type of animal that is moving or stalking them. Their sensitive ears also allow them to hear sounds four or five times farther away than humans; which means that they could hear you screaming for help (but they aren’t coming)! (source)
5. An average dog can run at a top speed of 19 miles per hour but a cat is capable of running at speeds of 30 mph.
Dog breeds, such as the greyhound, can run up to 42 miles per hour, but the average speed of a domesticated dog is 19 miles per hour. Cats on the other hand are known for their speed as well as their agility. In fact, when most people consider dogs to be the perfect pets for active, athletic people, cats can be remarkably agile and athletic too. Try using a laser pointer and you might be able to see some ninja-worthy moves, nonetheless. The fastest man on Earth, Usain Bolt clocked nearly 28 mph in the 100-meter sprint. (source)
6. Cats purr not only when they’re pleased and feeling good, but also to stimulate bone regeneration.
The purring sound can be relaxing to some cat owners as it’s a sign of them being happy or relaxed. Studies however, show that cats purr when they are happy, scared, angry or feeling threatened. Most surprisingly, cats purr to stimulate bone regeneration. The purring sound is created with the help of their larynx and diaphragm muscles, as they inhale and as they exhale. However, how they manage to control this isn’t fully understood.
Studies show that domestic cats purr at a frequency of about 26 Hertz, in a range that promotes tissue regeneration. Since most domestic cats spend their time sleeping, their bones can become weakened. So, scientists believe that the purring sound is a therapeutical technique that stimulates the bones and prevents them from becoming brittle. (source)
7. The brain of a cat is more similar to a human than that of a dog.
We all know that dogs are smart since they are capable of following commands, playing fetch and defending us from potential dangers. Studies however, show that the cerebral cortex of cats is greater and more complex compared to that of dogs. Cats have 300 million neurons, whereas dogs have about 160 million. The greater and more complex cerebral cortex is about 90% similar to us and allows them to process information twice as fast as dogs. (source)
8. A group of cats is known as a “clowder”.
Other than just saying “group of cats” or “cats”, the valid way to refer a group of cats is a “clowder”, ‘clutter’ or ‘glaring’. If the group of cats are wild cats, then the correct terms are ‘dowt’ and ‘destruction’. (source)
9. Cats not only have supersensitive ears, they also have the ability to detect vibrations.
A cat’s ear is capable of amplifying sound waves 2 to 3 times for frequencies between 2000 and 6000 Hertz (Hz). They can also move their ears 180 degrees with the help of 30 sets of muscles; while humans have only 6 sets. The ability to move their ears also allows cats to lock them onto sounds coming from a specific direction. Apart from their extraordinary ears, they can also detect vibrations on the ground. This ability is crucial for wild cats since it allows them to detect prey or escape possible predators. A study also found that cats that are born deaf can learn to respond to vibrations as well as hand signals. (source)
10. In 2011, Tommaso the cat became the world’s richest feline when he inherited a $13 million fortune from his owner.
Tommaso was a stray cat who was wandering the streets of Rome. In 2009, Maria Assunta, 94, found him while she was out for a walk and took him in as her own. Tommaso immediately showed her attention, providing her with much needed comfort to fight her loneliness and depression. Assunta did not have any children and she was the widow of a successful man, who had left all of his assets and properties to his beloved wife. Under Italian law, however, animals cannot inherit directly, but can be named beneficiaries once a trustee is found.
So, when Assunta became ill, Stefania, a woman she had met from the park, helped her through her daily routines. Stefania was also a cat lover who cared for Tommaso very much. Knowing that Stefania would always take care of Tommaso, Assunta left her $13 million fortune for both of them to enjoy. After Assunta passed away, her lawyers took the duo to an undisclosed location where they are currently living an exquisite lifestyle. (source)