Humans have sought companionship from cats for thousands of years. The number of cat videos on the internet proves how interesting we find felines, but their intrigue goes beyond their crazy antics. To help explain why cats are so enthralling, our Palm Valley Veterinary Center team compiled a list of fun and amazing facts about cats.

Facts about cat anatomy and physiology

From their adorable triangular nose to their twitchy tail, cats have our attention. Specific facts about their anatomy and physiology include:

  • Tiger-like — Researchers who sequenced the genomes of tigers, lions, and snow leopards found that the tiger shares 95.6% of their DNA with the domestic house cat. This explains why they exhibit similar behaviors, such as scent marking by scratching, prey playing, prey stalking, pouncing, chinning, and urine marking. 
  • No sweet tooth — Cats are believed to be the only mammal that can’t taste sweetness. The sweet receptor is generated by two genes, Tas1r2 and Tas1r3, made by amino acids, which cats lack. Cats are obligate carnivores—meaning they must eat animal products to survive and don’t need carbohydrates in their diet, which may explain why they lack amino acids and cannot detect sweetness. 
  • Scent tasters — Cats have an organ in the roof of their mouth (i.e., the vomeronasal organ) that allows them to taste scents in the air and helps them detect pheromones, which are important for social, mating, and territorial information. If your cat is staring with their mouth open, they are using their vomeronasal organ.
  • Whisker reliant — Whiskers are extremely important to cats, who have whiskers above their eyes, on their chin, near their ears, above their upper lip, and on their forelegs that are generally about the same width as their body. Cats rely on their whiskers for balance, and to act as radar sensors, communicate emotions, and detect particles that may injure their eyes. Your cat’s whiskers should never be trimmed or plucked.
  • Extremely flexible — The cat’s spine is connected by extremely elastic cushioning disks that allow them to rotate their spine more than other animals. This contributes to their speed, because they can extend and flex their back to lengthen their stride. In addition, only muscle connects the cat’s shoulder blade to their body, which allows them to squeeze through tiny openings.

Facts about cat health and wellness

Cats don’t really have nine lives. The myth grew because cats have keen senses and quick reflexes that help them survive situations other animals may not. True facts include:

  • Sleep experts — Cats sleep about 12 to 16 hours a day, and kittens and senior cats may sleep longer. Cats are predators who sleep to preserve energy, so they are well rested when they need to chase their prey. Cats are also crepuscular, which means they typically snooze during the daylight hours and become active at dusk and dawn.
  • Self healers — Cats purr not only when they are happy and content, but also when they are anxious or in pain. The cat purrs at frequencies between 50 and 150 Hz, and sound frequencies in this range can improve bone density and promote healing, so purring is possibly a low energy mechanism to stimulate healing.
  • Extremely prolific — A single cat couple and their offspring can produce as many as 420,000 cats in seven years—the reason why spaying and neutering your cat is so important. Spayed and neutered cats also tend to live longer, because they are at lower risk for many diseases and tend to roam less, which decreases their exposure to dangers such as traffic accidents and animal fights. 
  • Fastidious groomers — Cats spend up to 50% of their day grooming, which helps keep their coat clean, distributes natural skin oils, stimulates circulation, regulates body temperature, and has a calming effect. Cats also groom their feline friends, a behavior called allogrooming.
  • Lactose intolerant — Cats in movies are always depicted drinking from a bowl of milk, but in reality, cats lose the ability to digest milk when they are weaned and become lactose intolerant. 

Facts about cat communication

Some cats are extremely vocal, while others stay quiet, but all cats find ways to communicate, including:

  • Tail cues — Cats commonly use their tails to signal their feelings:
  • Question mark tail — This indicates your cat wants to play.
  • Vibrating tail — This means your cat is happy to see you.
  • Wagging tail — Your cat is warning you that they are aggravated.
  • Draped tail — When your cat drapes their tail over another cat or dog, they are feeling friendly.
  • Meowing — Cats meow to communicate with humans. As kittens, cats meow to talk to their mother, but as adults, they communicate with other cats through scent markings. Many cats develop a meow repertoire to express different needs to their owners. Do you know what your cat is saying?
  • Hind end — Believe it or not, your cat sticks their hind end in your face as a sign of affection—they put themselves in a vulnerable position to say they trust you. Cats communicate by scent, and presenting their hind end is also their way of telling you what they did all day.

Aren’t cats amazing? To keep your fascinating feline friend happy and healthy, contact our Palm Valley Veterinary Center team to schedule a wellness evaluation to ensure they will continue to be awesome and keep you entertained for many years to come.