15 Basic Cat Facts You’d Be Surprised People Don’t Know

They steal our hearts and run our lives, but how much do you actually know about your cat? You might consider yourself an ace at all things cat, but you’d be surprised by how much people don’t know when it comes to our feline friends. They’re complicated creatures, that’s for sure. That’s why we compiled a list of the most basic–but most important–cat facts that everyone should know. It doesn’t matter if you’re owned by a clowder of kittens or admire kitties from afar, you’ll want to memorize these cat facts and share them with your friends.

How many of these cat facts do you know?

1. Cats sleep A LOT.cat facts

They’re called cat naps for a reason, people. The average cat sleeps 16-18 hours PER DAY. When you do the math, that means cats spend about 70% of their lives asleep. Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it? But the thing about cats is they love snoozing during the day, but their most active times are at dawn and dusk. That’s why your cat decides to do random sprints down the hallway at 4 AM. 

2. Cats have three eyelids.

While humans have a lower and upper eyelid, cats have a bonus third eyelid. Its technical name is the nictitating membrane. It moves diagonally across the eye starting from its corner. This third eyelid moves faster than the other two and is more efficient at clearing debris from the eye. So when your cat is ready to pounce on a catnip mouse, it can use that third eyelid to keep dust and other small particles from obstructing the view.

3. Cats can make around 100 different vocal sounds.

Everyone knows that cats meow. That’s basic pre-school stuff. But meowing isn’t the only sound that cats make. Most cats are capable of producing around 100 different sounds. There are purrs, trills, chirps, chatter, snarls, growls, caterwauls, and a lot more. All of those different sounds mean something different, so pay attention to your kitty’s language to strengthen your bond and understand each other even better.

4. Almost every calico cat is female.

First off, you need to know what a calico cat is. For those that don’t know, a calico is a tri-colored cat that has white, orange, and black patches. They’re gorgeous cats, and more than 99% of all calicos are female. That less than 1% happens only in rare genetic conditions, and male calicos are always sterile. You can learn more about the science behind these interesting cat facts here.

5. Cats can jump about six times their height.

This cat fact ultimately depends on the cat. But a healthy adult cat has the physical ability to jump about six times its height. Some seriously athletic cats can jump even higher. Their muscles and joints are designed for intense physical activity. That’s why your cat can jump onto the counter to steal your food with barely any effort.

6. A cat’s eyes are better than yours.

Not only do cats have big, beautiful eyes, their eyesight is also superior to that of a human. While a human sees the world through about a 180-degree view, cats have a field of view of about 200 degrees. They are also more sensitive to low light. Cats can’t exactly see in the dark, but they have excellent night vision. They only need a little bit of light to see clearly. 

7. Their ears are better too.

cat facts

Right above their superior eyes are a cat’s supersonic ears. When you’re on the low end of the scale, humans and cats actually have similar hearing abilities. But the difference comes in when you move up to higher-pitched sounds. Cats can hear sounds up to 64 kHz, which is 1.6 octaves more than humans.Cats can even hear better than dogs. 

8. A cat’s nose pad is as unique as a human fingerprint.

If you ever need to figure out which of your cats got bored and started knocking things off shelves, you could always dust for nose prints. Like a human’s fingerprint, feline nose prints are unique for every cat. The ridges on a cat’s nose come in swirls, stripes, and every design imaginable. 

9. There are more domesticated cats in the U.S. than there are dogs.

Dogs have that whole “man’s best friend” thing going for them, but the numbers don’t lie. According to a national survey in 2017, there were 94.2 million cats living in U.S. homes. That number has probably increased since then. That same survey found that there were 89.7 million dogs. This cat fact is proof that cats rule, dogs drool!

10. Owning a cat can reduce your risk of heart attack.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Stroke Institute conducted a 10-year study that found owning a cat could reduce your risk of heart attack by about one third. The study included over 4,000 Americans aged 30 to 75. A little more than half of those people were cat people. Pets are great for stress-relief, and they’re a lot more fun than taking medications or undergoing serious surgeries. 

11. A lot of cats are lactose intolerant.

That old image of a cute cat lapping up a saucer of cream doesn’t tell the whole story. Your cat might like milk, but a lot of felines are lactose intolerant. When kittens (and human babies, too) are born, they have plenty of an enzyme called lactase. This enzyme is responsible for digesting milk. But as the cat (or human) grows, they produce less lactase. So that cat lapping up the cream will probably end the night with some not-so-pleasant diarrhea. Out of all the cat facts, this one is pretty important for your cat’s health. 

12. Cats have five toes on their front paws and four on their back paws.

While humans have ten toes and ten fingers, cats have a total of 18 toes. There are five toes on each front paw, and the back paws only have four each. This rule, however, won’t apply to every kitty. It’s fairly common for cats to have extra toes. These are called polydactyl cats. Currently, a cat named Paws holds the Guinness World Record for having the most toes. She has a whopping 28 toes with three extra on each front paw and one extra on each back paw.

13. Cats use their whiskers for spatial awareness.

Whiskers are super cute, and they also have a practical purpose. These tactile hairs grow on a cat’s muzzle and eyebrows. They’re used to detect an object’s exact location and size. They’re especially helpful when a cat is moving through the dark or trying to be stealthy.

14. Cats were worshiped in ancient Egypt–not much has changed.

It’s really not surprising that cats today tend to rule their houses and have a special skill of captivating human attention. Today’s cats come from a long line of ancient cats that were once worshiped by ancient Egyptians. Many of the Ancient Egyptian deities were believed to have cat-shaped bodies. Cats were used in cultural, social, and religious practices. 

15. Cats have cuteness ingrained in their DNA.

Okay, this cat fact hasn’t been scientifically proven. But have you ever looked at a cat? Those big eyes, the adorable nose, those jellybean toes! It seems pretty obvious that cuteness is part of their DNA.

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  1. Thank you for this fun and informative post. However, I must point out that Fact #6 “A cat’s eyes are better than yours” is inaccurate. A cat’s vision is DIFFERENT from ours, not better. While cats do have a wider visual field and can see better in low light conditions, they lack visual acuity. In fact, not only are cats nearsighted—anything further than 20 feet away is blurry to them—but they are also farsighted—i.e. they cannot see clearly objects that are close to them. Another difference is the way they see colors. Their eyes lack the structures necessary to see red.

  2. Loving these fun facts, I hadn’t counted the ones I always thought they had the same front and back, I learn something new each day. I did know about the vocalisation though as both of my cats are very vocal.

  3. I am 85 and have lived with cats for 83 years. No cats in college dorms. I was aware of most of these facts. In my opinion, dogs are OK but cats are wonderful!
    Cole and Marmalade deserve a medal for their educational posts and a hug for their sense of humor!💕

  4. I am convinced that my cat meows above my hearing range! She does have a marooned I can hear and it’s very high- pitched. When she narrows but nothing seems to come out, I am sure she is meowing because she looks like she does when meowing where I can hear.

    Cats hear supersonically. Surely they can meow supersonically.

  5. Actually, I knew all of these things about cats – have owned cats for over 60 years, & it never fails to surprise me how beautiful, intelligent, loving, clever, & surprising they are. I just love them so much!

  6. Cats are also obligate carnivores, and have to have meat in their diet, because they can not produce taurin themselves.
    They also have floating shoulder blades, which will allow them to squeeze through small openings.
    They also have a nose that is not quite as good as the blood hound, but comparable to a more “normal” breed (different breeds have different number of “smell sensors”).
    Cats are color blind, the see blues and greens, but have problem seeing reds and pinks, and they do not see as many hues that humans do.

    • I wouldn’t count on the color thing totally. Years ago my mother was kneeling 9n the living room floor filling plastic Easter eggs with jellybeans. My Persian mix Rosie kept trying yo gran one so mom threw her a yellow one…nope no good. Rosie came back again, mom gave her a blue one…again no. Finally Rosie came over and grabbed a pink egg, and that was her favorite toy ever since!

  7. Cats understand 90 percent of what you say, talked about getting an emotional support animal for a client on the phone, Bernard came over to tell me he was experienced and willing !!

  8. Cats are obligate carnivores because they can’t store partial chains of amino acids like dogs and humans can. Plant foods like beans for example, only give us some of the amino acids we need, but since we can store them it’s not a problem because when we eat something else like rice, even a few days later, the amino acids from the rice and the beans come together and make a complete chain of amino acids. Cats do not have this ability to store amino acids, and therefore they must eat a full chain of amino acids which are only found in animal protein. It is very sad and tragic that most people don’t know this and feed their cats food that is derived from plants, because this shortens their lifespan quite a bit and causes disease. Another thing that’s sad is that most people don’t know that you’re cat should only eat wet food. This is because a normal and healthy cat should not have much of a thirst drive. Cats come from the desert and normally drink hardly any water, but it doesn’t matter when they’re eating their natural diet consisting of birds and mice, because their live prey is 80% water. Dry food on the other hand is only 5 to 10% water, so no matter how much your cat drinks it will never be enough to make up for this deficit. Canned cat food on the other hand has anywhere from 78 to 82% water, which is much closer to their natural prey.

Written by Amber King

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