While cats were not the first animal that humans domesticated, they are one of the most popular. Except for those souls who are unfortunate enough to be allergic to these beautiful balls of fur, most people can benefit from having a cat in their home. It keeps the rodent population away, it provides love and companionship, and it sounds the alarm in case of burglary or fire. Having a cat in the house with kids also helps to boost their immune systems and thus reduce the incidence of allergies and asthma, plus it helps to teach children how to care for someone other than themselves, which is a win for everyone (especially the cat). For those whose allergies or lifestyles don't permit them to have a cat at home, they can still enjoy cats vicariously thanks to the magic of the internet, which provides an endless plethora of cute pictures, funny or touching videos, and gifs that just get better with each loop.
All that said, people often don't actually know that much about cats. Sure, there is some received wisdom -- they always land on their feet, they have nine lives, and they love fish and hate water -- but is any of it true? Let's find out if you know the answer!
Cats meow only at people. They don't vocalize like that to fellow cats, or any other animal.
Cats always land on their feet, but they need time and enough "drop distance." Cats have such a good sense of balance that they position their heads upright first, and then the whole body follows. That makes them land on their feet.
A cat's nose has a unique pattern of folds. You can technically do a "nose print" with ink, and it would be as good as a fingerprint for humans. That is, if the cat will let you.
Cats can't taste sweetness. Some scientists think this is a mutation, but others think it's because they are predators, so they don’t need to taste sweetness; they need their savory taste buds more.
All of a cat's claws are positioned and curved in one direction. It's great for going up a tree, but that means a cat has to go back down in reverse if they want to be on the ground again. Many cats don’t do that.
Bezoars are the fancy names for hairballs. In fact, hairballs are a specific type, called trichobezoars. If your cat has this too often, a trip to a vet is in order, since it may mean a dietary or digestive problem. Otherwise, you need to groom your cat more!
Cats were probably first domesticated, or allowed into human settlements, because of their ability to hunt down smaller animals, like rats. As farming expanded, these small animals tended to eat and contaminate the produce.
Not surprisingly, more cats are taken as pets when compared to dogs. Some estimates state there are more than 70 million cats in American households, compared to a little more than 60 million dogs. Also, one in three American households has a cat.
Cats have scent glands on their face, and their tails and paws carry their scent, too. They're marking you as their territory.
Cats are known to sleep around 16 hours a day, or two-thirds of a day. This is because they still keep the habits of hunters, and hunting needs a lot of energy.
Cats have no collarbones, and this allows them to collapse their bodies. As long as their heads can fit, they can go through any opening.
Cats probably feel that boxes are small and safe spaces where they can relax, like a den in the wild. Other people say it's because they can conserve body heat when it's cold by being balled up in a small space.
Cats don’t like it when something sneaks up behind them. When you sneak a cucumber behind them, they can freak out. Some experts also say that they might think of it as a snake or something similar to it.
If cats were humans, they would be what you call lactose intolerant. They find it hard to digest milk, and it will give them an upset stomach, or worse.
Cats can spend up to a third of their time awake grooming themselves. Aside from keeping themselves clean of dirt and smells, it also helps them maintain temperature by keeping their coat in top condition.
Cats sweat through their paws. Sadly, this sometimes isn’t enough for them to get rid of heat, and that's why they always look for shaded areas, and don't move unless they have to.
While male cats will have to keep themselves happy with the earthy 'Tom' as their nickname, female cats are given higher regard. Female cats are known as 'queens.'
Cats can only retract their front claws. Their back claws don’t have this ability, so they're always out. They're worn down more than the front claws.
A cat's whiskers allow them to navigate in the dark, and can tell them if there is an object in front of them. They act like tripwires or laser alarms, telling a cat if they are about to hit something that they can't see.
Cats touch their noses as a form of greeting. This also allows them to smell the scent of the other cat deeply, so they can really remember the other cat.
Research has shown that the vibration range of a cat's purr can actually help them heal bones and muscles. When your cat is purring, he or she may be doing a low-energy type of healing and strengthening bones and muscles.
Originally, kitty litter was made out of sand, making for literal small sandboxes. However, some kinds of clay were found to be more absorbent, and it's been clay since around 1948.
When cats bring us dead animals as gifts, they're encouraging us to be better hunters. Whether they think we need to be taught, or that we really suck as hunters is unknown.
Cat dander, or dander of any kind, is mostly made of dead skin cells, something like dandruff. In cats, their dander has a specific chemical that comes from cat saliva and their skin glands. This chemical can trigger allergic reactions in people.
Cats are known to be nearsighted, which means they can't see things that are far away. This is probably a biological adaptation of sorts for hunting animals.
Cats have a bad blood reaction to onions, aside from giving them an upset stomach. Onions can trigger breakdowns in a cat's blood cells, leading to anemia. Occasional small doses might be okay, but large doses are out of the question.
Grapes are very poisonous to cats. Large enough amounts or regular smaller amounts cause kidney failure, and even a small bit can make cats really sick.
Cats use their tails to balance themselves when they're on the move. This is very useful for cats if they want to move quickly and surely.
Cats groom themselves after people handle them to remove the human smell from their fur. This makes sense since they don’t want an odd smell on them when their hunting instincts kick in. Don't take it personally.
When a cat is showing its belly to you, it means that it feels safe with you. It's a way to show you a certain amount of trust and comfort.
Cats with white fur and blue eyes are usually deaf. In the case of cats with only one blue eye, the nearest ear to the eye is usually deaf.
Cats are very sensitive even to the smallest vibrations. Some scientists believe that they can sense the initial small tremors of earthquakes, before the big shifts happen.
While the term "kindle of kittens" sounds odd, it makes sense when you think about the word. "Kindle" has its roots in "kindel," which means "offspring." Others trace it back to the German "kinder," which means "children."
Asia and England are some of the few places where black cats are seen as good luck. In England, a black cat crossing your path is a sign of great things to come!
Egypt was the first major civilization that had a very high regard for cats. Cats were actually revered, and even seen as part of their religion.