1) Not all cats are affected by catnip: Half the cats in the world do not at all respond to catnip! Sensitivity to Catnip is inherited. Cats with only one catnip sensitive parent have a 50% chance of developing sensitivity, while those with both parents carrying the gene have a 75% chance of sensitivity.
2) Cats don’t necessarily purr because they are happy: While cats do purr when they are content, they also purr when they are sick, wounded, or in stressful situations. Cats purr during inhalation and exhalation, with a consistent pattern and frequency (between 25 and 150 Hertz) sound frequencies in this range can promote healing, and improve bone density. Purring is a mechanism that stimulates muscles and bones, without exerting energy; so in addition to communication, purring is used as a source of self-healing.
3) Cats can’t taste sweet things: Cats have a defect in the gene that codes for part of the mammalian sweet taste receptor. Research has found that the defect in on the T1R2 protein in domestic cats, as well as in cheetahs and tigers.
4) Cats can smell with their mouths: Have you ever wondered why a cat will sometimes smell with its mouth wide open? This is because they have a unique organ called the vomero-nasal organ (or Jacobson’s organ) located on the roof of their mouth. They can essentially “taste the air”.
5) Night vision: Cats have excellent night vision. They can see in 1/16th of the light necessary for a human to see. They cannot see in total darkness but see best in dim light conditions. Cats are also nearsighted but have excellent peripheral vision.
6) Cat napping: Cats sleep more than any other mammal! On average, cats sleep 16 hours a day. Some adult cats sleep up to 20 hours a day!
7) The way they walk: Cats walk by moving both right legs then left legs simultaneously. Camels and giraffes are the only other animals that move this way! All other animals walk using an alternate sidestep.
8) Amazing jumpers: Cats can jump up to six times their length (which generally equals eight feet) in a single bound! This is thanks to powerful muscles in their back legs and the use of their tails for balance.
9) Why do cats get stuck up in trees? All of cats claws curve downwards. This enables them to be excellent climbers going up, but they can’t climb down trees head first. Cats have to either back down the trunk, jump or wait to be rescued!
10) Cats can drink seawater and stay hydrated: Cats have ultra-efficient kidneys that can filter out the salt, allowing them to use the desalinated water for hydration.
Written by Dr Katherine Takacs