One of the World’s Most Popular Pets
Cats are thought to be one of the most popular pets, with over 500 million domestic cats worldwide.
All cats walk directly on their toes and use a pacing gate (both front and back legs on one side move together, alternating with both front and back legs on the other) when they walk slowly. Other animals that walk this way include camels and giraffes.
House cats, like their big cat counterparts, are perfectly built for hunting. In fact, their powerful jaws are so developed to catch prey, cats can’t really “chew” like humans do. Instead, their sharp teeth quite literally “scissor” their food into pieces small enough to swallow.
They also have large eyes, which, while they can’t see color as well as humans can, can see six times better in the dark. That’s because their pupils can expand to nearly the entire edge of their eye! They also have amazing smell and hearing. Cats have 32 muscles on the outside of the ear that help them to swivel and pinpoint sound.
One thing cats can’t do well is taste! They have relatively few taste buds (470 vs. 9000 in a human) and they can’t taste sweet things.
A few other facts about cats:
- Grooming is very important to them, and they may spend upwards of 30-50% of their day cleaning themselves with their “sandpaper tongue” (that rough feeling is caused by tiny backwards-facing spines filled with keratin to make them stiff).
- Cats don’t have collarbones, which allow them to fit through any space their head can fit through. They also have long, flexible backs and each cat has a “cat righting reflex” that allows them to land on their feet when they fall (and if they have time to right themselves).
- Have a cat that cries non-stop for food? They might be mimicking the sound of a baby crying. In fact, scientists have discovered that the meowing sound when they’re hungry is at the same frequency as a baby’s cry!
- Domestic cats can live a long time…usually 10-15 years, though some old-timers have lived to be over 30. Just one of the reasons they can make great companions!