18 Facts About Cats That Will Help You Understand Them Better

Written By Jill Taylor

First domesticated as pest control assistants by the Ancient Egyptians, cats have been our companions for thousands of years- yet they remain somewhat mysterious. Here are 18 facts about cats that will help shed some light on these curious mini predators.

They’re More Independent Than Dogs

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Phys.org says cats are known for their independent spirits and are far more capable of surviving alone than dogs are. This independence is due to their evolutionary history as solitary hunters- just like tigers and pumas, your cat was born to live alone and care for itself.

They Don’t Like Sharing Space

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Cats are extremely territorial animals with a clearly defined area they see as their own; they don’t naturally welcome other cats in their space (ASPCA). This explains why they ‘scent mark’ their environment with urine and may become stressed when other cats invade their space.

Purring Can Heal

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We can all agree that the rhythmic sound of a cat’s purr is soothing, but did you know it also has healing properties? ES Veterinary Services explains that the frequency of purring can lower stress and blood pressure in both cats and humans, speeding up recovery from illness or injury.

They Have Unique Paw Prints

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Just like human fingerprints, each cat’s paw print is unique. The Cat Flix states, “A cat’s paw print is created by the combination of their unique paw pad size, shape, and pattern. Cat paw pads are made up of furrows and ridges that generate a distinctive pattern unique to each individual cat.”

They Have Extraordinary Whiskers

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Cats’ whiskers, or vibrissae, are more than just hairs- they are highly sensitive environmental sensors. According to WebMD, whiskers help cats navigate and sense their surroundings, avoid getting stuck in small spaces, and can even detect changes in air currents.

They Can See in Near-Darkness

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Cats are crepuscular animals, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk, and their night vision is six times better than humans (Cats Protection). They can’t see in total darkness, but their eyes are far more capable of making use of what little light may be available.

They are Terrific Jumpers

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You probably already know that cats are extraordinary jumpers and may even be familiar with that little wiggle they sometimes do before leaping! According to Catinaflat, cats can jump up to six times their body length in one leap, thanks to their powerful leg muscles.

They Love ‘Making Biscuits’

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Well, okay, no, cats aren’t actual bakers, but they sure do love kneading soft surfaces like blankets and cushions. This behavior stems from kittenhood when they knead their mother’s abdomen to stimulate milk flow. It persists in adult cats as a soothing behavior and a sign of contentment.

You Can Tell a Lot From Their Tails

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National Geographic informs us that cats communicate with their tails. A straight, hooked tail means they’re happy to see you, while a poker-straight, puffed-up tail indicates alarm. If a cat’s tail is twitching, they are alert or agitated, whereas a tail curled under the body shows fear or defensiveness.

Cats Love To Be Up High

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Cats have a natural affinity for high places and often climb to find a relaxing spot. This behavior comes from their evolutionary history as small predators- while always on the lookout for prey, they were also vulnerable to their own predators. High places provide safety and a great view.

Grooming Is Very Important to a Cat

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Cats spend a significant amount of time grooming themselves, approximately 30-50% of their waking hours, or up to 5 hours daily (Catster). That’s akin to spending around 8 hours a day in the shower! While it seems excessive to us, cats are meticulously clean animals and feel happiest when they are well-groomed.

Cats Can Be Social

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Although cats are typically seen as aloof and solitary, they can form complex social groups under certain circumstances. MSD Veterinary Manual reports that “Many get along well in groups. Outdoor cats will form stable groups as long as they can find enough food.”

They Don’t Like You Touching Their Whiskers

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Cats’ whiskers are extremely sensitive, so overstimulating them can cause stress. While the odd whisker stroke won’t upset your feline friend, avoid brushing or touching their whiskers excessively, as they’re likely to become increasingly agitated and uneasy.

Cats Make More Sounds Than Dogs

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Cats.com explains that cats make a wide range of vocalizations, one of the largest ranges of all carnivores. From loud meows and hisses to quieter purrs and chirps, cats seem to have much to say! Indeed, they can make 100 phonetic sounds, ten times as many as dogs.

They’re Better Hunters Than Tigers

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Cats are natural hunters with a strong predatory instinct that hasn’t reduced with domestication- as your cat’s favorite toy will tell you! They are also very successful compared to other feline species; Discover Wildlife reports that domestic cats have a 32% success rate while hunting, compared to only 5% for tigers.

They Spend Over Half Their Lives Asleep

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It probably won’t surprise you that domestic felines spend up to 16 hours a day sleeping, double the amount of time most humans need. This is because catching small, fast prey like birds, insects, and rodents is tiring, so they evolved to conserve energy between hunting sessions.

They Don’t Like Change

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Cats are highly susceptible to environmental changes and are often easily stressed by changes such as a new home, additional cats, or reduced cleanliness. This is why most vets recommend gradually acclimating a new cat to your home, one room at a time.

Cats Are Super Curious

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The expression’ curiosity killed the cat’ stems from our feline friends being very inquisitive creatures- particularly as youngsters. They are quick to investigate and explore new furniture, toys, and other objects placed in their environment and require mental stimulation in order to be happy.