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  • Barbra Davis

Thirteen Strange Feline Facts

My fur baby Max

While cats are the most popular pet in America, most of us don’t really know a lot about feline anatomy and what makes these little guys tick. Over the past weeks I did some research on cats, and learned some strange but true facts about them. Here are some of the things I gleaned from a variety of sources:

1) The average cat lives 12 to 15 years.

2) When cats are very happy or pleased they squeeze their eyes shut.

3) A cat can generally jump over 5 times its own height in a single leap, but it can reach as much as 7 times its height if necessary.

4) When they fall, cats really do land on their feet most of the time. They are born with a gene that controls a “righting reflex.” The combination of their eyes and some organs in their inner ears allow them to “locate” themselves in space, thus helping cats land on their feet.

5) Cats have five toes on their front paws, but only four on their back paws.

6) Cats have sweat glands only in their tongues and the pads of their feet.

7) Cats are the only animals that purr – though I wish I could sometimes, it’s not possible. Scientists are still unsure of exactly how cats produce that wonderful sound. Contrary to common belief, though, purring doesn't always mean a cat is content. Cats sometimes purr when they are scared, hurt or even in labor! Studies have shown that purring may help release stress in our furry little friends.

8) A domestic cat can sprint at about 31 miles per hour! This is even more amazing when you consider that cats step with both left legs, then both right legs, when they walk or run!

9) Cats have 32 muscles controlling their outer ear. That’s why they can rotate their ears a full 180 degrees. (Humans have 6 controlling muscles.)

10) Cats respond most readily to names that end in an "ee" sound.

11) Cats usually have about 12 whiskers on each side of their face. These whiskers aren’t for looks, though. Cats use them to determine if the space they are entering is big enough for them to pass through. Since cats have no collar bone, they can fit their whole body through any space their heads can get through.

12) Only about 80% of cats have the gene that makes them responsive to the effects of catnip. That means 20% of them are not affected by it at all.

13) A cat cannot see directly under its nose.

If you are lucky enough to have a cat companion in your home, I hope this information helps you see even more clearly what wonderful creatures they are! By the way, that's a baby picture of my fur baby, Max, in the picture.

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