Your four-legged best friend is more complex than you imagined. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about your cat (or about yourself).
You know your cat, right? You know how to interpret every distinctive meow, mew and yeow. You know how he stretches right before he falls asleep. And you know he will suddenly materialize when it’s time for dinner. Cats are incredible animals, and unique in so many ways, from the shape of their eyes, to their specialized taste buds, to the long-debated reasons that they purr.
Just in case you need a few reminders why they’re such amazing creatures and companions, here are 10 things that you might not know about cats — and about cat owners. Because you’re pretty cool, too, you know.
1. Cats’ eyes reveal the hunter inside.
Other than David Bowie, cats might have the most distinctive-looking eyes on the planet. And those unique vertical pupils can do more than make your cat look extra disappointed while he sits on the windowsill, judging you. Scientists from the University of California-Berkeley studied the pupils of 214 different land animals and determined that the shape determined a lot about their lifestyles, especially when it comes to predatory behavior. Those with vertical pupils, like domestic cats, tend to ambush their prey. “For species that are active both night and day, like domestic cats, slit pupils provide the dynamic range needed to help them see in dim light, yet not get blinded by the midday sun,” lead author Martin Banks said in a statement. Maybe, but that still doesn’t explain David Bowie.
2. Some cats actually like water.
The Turkish Angora is one of the ancient breeds of domesticated cat, known for its sleek body and high pointed ears. This breed is naturally drawn to water and some have even been reported as swimming or wading in pools of it. There are a few other breeds that have been known to like water, such as the: American Shorthair, Maine Coon, American Bobtail and the Turkish Van.
3. Cats are manipulative—when they need to be.
Everyone knows that when a cat is hungry, they won’t beat around the bush about it. They will rub on you, paw at you and some might even meow at the top of their lungs. While this may appear something like a distress call, cats practice this behavior to manipulate their owners to get what they want—food!
4. Cats dream just like us.
If a cat is relaxed enough and has entered a deep sleep, their little minds produce the same brain wave patterns that we do to send them into dream land. Maybe there kitty can catch that pesky squirrel for real this time!
5. Cats can get sick from eating chocolate just like dogs.
Not usually one to fall in the same category with a canine, cats also cannot tolerate chocolate and consuming it can cause them to become very ill. Cats are carnivorous by nature and they don’t have a taste for the sweet stuff. Still, be sure to be careful when leaving it out so kitty doesn’t find it.
6. The oldest living cat is 26 years old.
According to Guinness World Records, a 26-year-old cat named Corduroy is currently the oldest living domestic cat. Corduroy recently claimed the honor of being old and alive after the death of Tiffany Two at the age of 27 years, 2 months and 20 days. Corduroy needs to hang on for another decade-plus if he wants to take the all-time honor, though. The oldest known domestic cat was named Creme Puff, and he lived to be an astounding 38 years, 3 days old. The average domestic cat lives to be 15.
7. Cats are better hunters than dogs.
I recently saw a kid in an airport who was wearing a T-shirt that said “Cats Rule, Dogs Drool,” which is more accurate than you think. Cats do rule, at least from an evolutionary perspective. A recent study of more than 2,000 fossils showed that members of the cat family (felids) were better hunters and more capable of survival than their dog (canid) counterparts. The study, published in the journal PNAS, found that cats out-fought and out-hunted dogs, making the most of the available resources. That led to a significant decline in the number of wild dog species that survived. “The arrival of cats to North America had a deadly impact on the diversity of the dog family,” the report’s lead author, Dr. Daniele Silvestro, said.
8. Cats really don’t care to listen to you.
“Mr. Sniffles. Mr. Sniffles? MR. SNIFFLES!” You know your cat knows his name, your cat knows that he knows his name, and you both know that he’s ignoring you. Researchers know it, too, and have tested it by playing cats recordings of their names being spoken aloud by four strangers and their owners. Although cats displayed behavior indicating that they knew their names were being called, they still chose not to respond, even to their owners. The study, which was published in the journal Animal Cognition, suggested that this was because cats, unlike dogs, were not domesticated to listen to humans, or to try to please them. “Historically speaking, cats, unlike dogs, have not been domesticated to obey humans’ orders,” the authors wrote. “Rather, they seem to take the initiative in human-cat interaction.” LOOK AT ME, MR. SNIFFLES! LOOK AT ME.
9. Women dig a man with a cat.
Gentleman, owning a cat might make you more attractive to the ladies. In a study conducted by pet researcher Dr. June McNicholas, women reported being more attracted to men who liked animals, but male cat owners were also perceived as being nicer and more caring. The study’s findings seem to support that, at least when it comes to the way men display their affections for their feline companions: Single male cat owners were more likely to make real sacrifices for their cats, including giving up a vacation to avoid having to board their pets, or even choosing their cats over their romantic partners. OK, so maybe that last part isn’t as sexy as the whole caring thing.
10. Cat owners have a real zest for life.
There are real differences between Cat People and Dog People. A psychologist at the University of Texas-Austin surveyed more than 4,500 individuals to determine whether they were dog people, cat people, neither or both. He also gave them a 44-question test to assess their personalities. He and his team concluded that those who were exclusively cat people were more introverted, displayed less warmth and were more neurotic than their dog-owning counterparts. But wait! Cat owners were also determined to be more “open,” a trait that was described as involving “a general appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, imagination, curiosity and variety of experience.” But you already knew that you were cultured and had refined tastes, right?