Looking through my blog you might get the impression that I’m more of a dog person, which may be the teeniest bit true ? but only because I worked so closely with dogs during my time at numerous animal shelters and volunteering with dog rescue groups.
However, I grew up with lots of cats that my family rescued and I have only respect and admiration for the feline persuasion. I’ll never forget bottle feeding my kitten Petey. My landlord’s neighbor found him abandoned in a barn when he was only about a week old. He fit in the palm of my hand and he had big blue eyes and I would bring him to work in a big canister lined with a fuzzy blanket so I could feed him every couple of hours. My dogs loved him, especially my pit mix Josie. She would give him lots of tongue baths and was very protective. It was adorable.
I love all of the cats in my life, past and current. I know there will be many more to come. And considering that cats are the most popular pet in the United States, here are some little known facts that I put together about these independent, intelligent and oftentimes sassy creatures ?
1. A CAT’S BRAIN IS MORE COMPLEX THAN A DOG’S
A cat’s brain structure is about 90% similar to ours. The cerebral cortex is more complex in cats than in dogs, and cats have 300 million neurons whereas dogs only have 160 million. Research suggests that dogs may be slightly smarter than cats, but check this out: the most sophisticated supercomputer in 2010 performed 83 times slower than a cat’s brain. Impressive!
2. CAT DOMESTICATION BEGAN IN CHINA
It was believed that cats were first domesticated in Ancient Egypt about 4000 years ago, but new research published in 2013 shows that a breed of previously-wild cats lived near an ancient farming village in China 5300 years ago. Even though they weren’t yet domesticated, they co-existed with the farmers and their relationship with the villagers proved to have mutual benefits.
3. CATS CAN’T TASTE SWEET THINGS
Because of a defect in the gene that codes for part of the mammalian sweet taste receptor, cats are unable to taste anything sweet. Domesticated cats aren’t the only ones affected, tigers and cheetahs contain the gene defect as well.
4. WHEN A FAMILY CAT DIED IN ANCIENT EGYPT, THE FAMILY WOULD SHAVE OFF THEIR EYEBROWS IN MOURNING
It’s no secret that cats were held in the utmost regard in ancient Egypt, but what may surprise you are the customs associated with losing a family cat. The family members would go into deep mourning and shave off their eyebrows. The cat would be mummified and buried with provisions such as milk, mice and rats. One single tomb discovered at an ancient Egyptian burial site in 1888 contained around 80,000 feline burials!
5. CATS CAN DRINK SEA WATER IF NECESSARY
Whereas large amounts of salt water dehydrates humans, cats can drink salt water in order to survive. Their kidneys are capable of filtering out the salt so they can re-hydrate themselves. I’m not sure when that would come in handy for a domesticated cat, but you never know!
6. A CAT’S NOSE IS EQUIVALENT TO A FINGERPRINT
Just like each human’s fingerprint is unique to them, the same goes for those cute pink kitty noses. Every cat has a unique pattern of tiny bumps and ridges on their nose.
7. A GROUP OF CATS IS CALLED A CLOWDER
The dictionary describes a clowder as a group or cluster of cats. Growing up, we always had a clowder of cats in the house ????
8. WITHOUT TAURINE, CATS WOULD GO BLIND
Taurine is an amino acid that most animals produce on their own, but not cats. They require it in their diet, which is why store-bought cat food comes with taurine in it. Interestingly, taurine is also found in most energy drinks. But obviously your cat shouldn’t be consuming energy drinks!
9. ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS A CAT LOVER
Abe had four cats in the White House, and when asked what his hobbies included, Mary Todd Lincoln replied “cats.”
10. A CAT NAMED STUBBS HAS BEEN MAYOR OF TALKEETNA, ALASKA FOR 20 YEARS
Stubbs was born in 1997, the same year she was elected mayor of the tiny Alaskan town. The owner of a popular general store in Talkeetna found Stubbs and a whole litter of kittens in a box in the parking lot. She picked Stubbs because of her stubby tail, hence her name. Since then, she’s become quite a tourist attraction.
Basically, cats are awesome. They are fascinating furry creatures with an incredible history and complex inner workings. If you’ve been considering adding a(nother) cat companion to your life, go to your local shelter or rescue group to find a fur child. You will be very happy that you did!
Thanks to the following websites for aiding me in my research: