Cats are fascinating creatures, and the longer you know them and the more you study them the more you learn about them. Indeed, some of the things which cats do can seem unusual and unexpected, if not downright strange. Here are ten strange things about cats which you may not have known before.
Most people think that milk is a suitable drink for cats; indeed a cat drinking a saucer of milk is almost a cliché. But in fact many cats cannot tolerate milk. They are lactose intolerant, which means the lactose in milk can make them ill, often causing stomach upsets, vomiting, and diarrhoea. So it is better to give your cat water to drink. But if your cat really likes milk, it is a good idea to buy the special milk for cats which is sold in supermarkets, which is lactose-free.
Most people would assume that a purring cat is a happy cat. But sometimes that is not the case. Most vets have encountered a purring cat which is sick or injured, and is definitely not happy. No-one knows for certain why they do this, but it is thought to possibly be a method of self-healing. Indeed, purring frequencies have been shown to stimulate bone regeneration, or so it is said! But many owners feel that their sick cat is purring in relief because it knows its owner will help make it better, and who is to say that this is incorrect?
The fact that a tortoiseshell or tortie cat is almost invariably female is quite well known. But this is not always the case. Just occasionally, a tortie cat will turnout to be male. This is thought to be due to an extra 'X' chromosome, and these cats are generally found to be sterile. These tortie male cats are very rare. But they are occasionally found.
Most cats have only five toes on each paw. But occasionally a cat will have six toes, or even more, on one or more of his paws. These are called 'polydactyl' cats, and are much prized by some people, although if you want to show your cat, you should know that the GCCF will not allow polydactyl cats to be shown. Some of these cats look as though they actually have thumbs, but of course this is not the case. Occasionally these extra toes cause problems for the cat, in which case they will need to be removed, but usually they make no difference to the cat's life.
Most people learned as children that if you are lost at sea, you should not drink seawater in order to survive; it is too salty and will dehydrate you. But this is not the case with cats. Cats have kidneys which are able to filter out the salt in seawater so that they can rehydrate themselves by drinking it.
Cats do not miaow to each other, although kittens will miaow to get their mother's attention. But when they reach adulthood, cats only seem to vocalise in this way when talking to their humans. It is thought that the miaowing is learned behaviour, and that cats have found that it enables them to get what they want from us. Clever cats!
If you think your cat sleeps a lot, you are probably right. While humans on average only need about eight hours sleep a night, cats need about sixteen! The reason is that cats expend an enormous amount of energy in hunting – or in playing if they happen to be house cats – and sleep is their way of storing up all this energy. So your cat is not being lazy; that is simply the way the species is.
If you have an elderly cat, you may find that he seems confused at times, or forgets simple things such as where his food bowl and litter tray are. It is now known that some cats start to experience something like human dementia or Alzheimer's when they get old, and may cause them to get confused and often miaow constantly. The experts say that if your cat does this, try to reassure him and put him in a place he knows well.
We all know that cats will usually land on their feet if they fall from a height. But what is not so well known is that cats do this better from very high up, rather than from lower down. This is because it takes some time for cats' bodies to realise they are falling and to properly adjust. In fact, cats have been found to survive a fall from a building of seven stories or more better than a fall from lower than this. But of course, there is a definite limit on this.
We all know that human fingerprints are unique due to the whirls and ridges on them, and that is why criminals can often be detected by their fingerprints. But you probably didn't know that cats ' noses have similar tiny bumps and ridges, and that each one is unique. I doubt if these have ever been used to detect kitty crimes...but maybe they could!
We may think we know all about cats, but I'm sure some of these facts were new to you. And there are many other strange facts about cats; more to follow at a later date...