Pawsome Facts About Your Friend, the Cat

Pawsome Facts About Your Friend, the Cat

Kai Barr, Contributor


So, I’m sure y’all know the stereotypical Halloween decoration. You know, the black cat with the arched back and the tail that looks like the thing that I clean dishes with? Well, here’s a bunch of facts about the little demons that live in our homes. (Because, really, we all know that as much as we love them, cats are like toddlers.)


Fact One: Breeding a Siamese and a Burmese cat together will produce an entirely new breed, called the Tonkinese

This is because the Siamese has the pointing gene and the Burmese has the sepia gene. When these combine, they create the mink gene. This mink gene has been bred into a new breed called the Tonkinese, known for its startingly vibrant turquoise eyes.


Fact Two: There is a breed of cat called the American Curl that has ears which give it its name

These cats came from a pair of kittens, Shulamith and Mercedes, that were found in the late 1960s.


Fact Three: Sphynx cats, much like Hawaiian pizza, actually originate from Canada

The first Sphynx was named Prune and he came from Toronto, Canada.


Fact Four: Cats spend about 16 hours of the day sleeping.

Actually, they spend on average 2/3 of every day sleeping. As a result, your nine-year-old cat has only been awake for about three years of its life.


Fact Five: Meowing is a trait that cats keep around for humans. Usually, only kittens meow

Most of cats’ body language is actually nonverbal. It’s a series of cues through their tails, ears, and the like. Meowing is actually something kittens do to attract their mothers’ attention. Eventually, cats realize as they’re growing up that humans don’t understand their normal body language, and they learn it from their littermates and mother as well and keep meowing throughout their lives.

However, when a cat looks at you and closes its eyes, that is basically the equivalent of a cat kiss or a “I trust you”.


Fact Six: Cats understand when you apologize to them after accidentally hurting them or stepping on their tail/paw/etc.

When cats are still growing up (aka when they’re kittens), they can get pretty rough when playing. Much like puppies and other animals that grow up in sibling groups (usually mammals), a kitten will yelp when a littermate hurts it. Said littermate will then start licking them or otherwise apologizing. So, when you do hurt your cat, you don’t have to worry that it’ll be mad at you. It understands that you didn’t mean to do that.


Fact Seven: When a cat rubs against you, it is scent-marking you

Cats have scent glands on their face, as well as on their tail area and paws. Actually, cats also sweat through their paw pads, which is why wet paw prints can be a problem at vet’s offices.


Fact Eight: Several breeds of cats actually like to swim

These breeds include the Turkish Van and Maine Coon.


Fact Nine: Cat genetics are stupidly complicated. Like, seriously

A brown tabby (also known as a chocolate tabby by the fancy cat breeders) male bred with what’s called a “dilute tortoiseshell” (basically a blue-grey cat with orange or cream patches, or the other way around) female will produce tortoiseshell, black, red, and brown kittens. This is because the red gene, O, is located on the X chromosome. A female cat can have two copies of O, which means she will be a tortoiseshell or a calico (if she has white) if she is Oo. A tom, or male cat, can only be tortoiseshell if he is XXY, which usually means that he is sterile and cannot produce kittens.


Fact Ten: The rat population explosion that caused the Black Death was caused by a lack of cats.

During the Spanish Inquisition, cats were condemned as evil by Pope Innocent VIII. As a result, thousands of them were burned. This mass killing of cats ended up letting the rat population explode. If the Pope hadn’t done this, then a lot less rats would have contributed to the Black Death.

In addition, cats were also associated with witchcraft in the middle ages. On St. John’s Day, people throughout Europe would take cats, shove them in sacks, and then throw the sacks into bonfires. Meanwhile, people would also celebrate holy days by throwing cats off of church towers. (On the bright side, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found that cats can survive a fall as high up as 32 stories with a 90% survival rate because of their free fall position.)


Fact Eleven: In the US, about 400,000 people were bitten by cats annually as of May 1, 2018.

Of course, to be fair, cats are one of the most popular pets in the US. According to a study done in August 20 this year, a little over 30 million households have at least one cat.


Fact Twelve: In ancient Egypt, smuggling a cat out of the country was punishable by death (they worshipped the cat goddess Bast, which is part of why).

Of course, Phoenician traders decided they liked these felines and then managed to do exactly that, selling to the rich folk of Athens and many other important cities.

(On a side note, ancient Egypt probably wouldn’t be very happy about what happened in 1888. An Egyptian cemetery was discovered to have over three hundred thousand mummified cats. All of them were stripped of their wrappings, and then subsequently shipped off to the US and England to be used for fertilizer.)


Fact Thirteen: The average cat litter is between one and nine kittens.

The most common number is actually around three or four. However, there was one litter that produced nineteen kittens. Fifteen of these kittens survived.