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10 Fun Facts About Cats
Wednesday July 22nd 2015
We’ve put together a list of 10 fun facts you probably didn’t know about our favourite feline friends - cats! Find out the unusual reasons why cats ‘purr’, when they first became domesticated, and find out just how far wild and domestic cats travel!
1) Cats can be allergic to you!
Does your cat cough or sneeze a lot? You may be the one causing it! Feline asthma, which affects roughly 1 in 200 cats, is on the rise thanks to the human lifestyle.
Indoor cats in particular are the ones suffering, due to inflammation of the airways caused by cigarette smoke, pollen, dust, human dandruff and even some kinds of kitty litter!
2) A cat's brain is closer to humans then dogs!
It’s hard to imagine, with cats generally being a lot smaller than dogs, but a cat’s brain accounts for just 0.9% of their body mass. Unlike the brains of dogs, the brains of cats have an amazing surface folding structure, which is 90% similar to our own. The cerebral cortex contains about twice as many neurons as that of dogs!
3) Feral cats wander further than free-roaming house cats!
A two year study from researchers at the University of Illinois-Champaign, tracking 42 cats with radio collars, shows the differences between domestic and feral cat movement.
The outcome? Feral cats travel a lot further. In fact, one of the feral cats, a mixed breed male, had the single largest range of all the wild cats, equalling 1351 acres; while house cats averaged a mere 4.9 acres.
The study also found domestic cats spend 97% of their time sleeping or engaged in low energy activity, yet only use a mere 3 percent of their time to engage in high energy activities. Feral cats on the other hand, were active 14% of the time.
4) Some of their illnesses are similar to ours!
Cats can be susceptible to more than 250 heredity disorders; many of them are similar to diseases that humans get. A genetic defect in a cats DNA can cause Retinitis Pigmentosa, a disease that also affects around 1.5m people worldwide. Feline immunodeficiency virus is a genetic relative of HIV. Felines also have a form of Alzheimer's disease.
5) Cat domestication began in China!
The near Eastern Wildcat, a native to western Asia and Africa, is believed to be the primary ancestor of all domestic cats living around the world.
Scientists once believed cats where domesticated in ancient Egypt around 4000 years around. According to new research posted on Science Daily, archelogies have used radiocarbon dating and isotopic analyses of carbon to determine the remains to be around 5,300 years old.
Wild cats where thought to live with Chinese farmers in a society that thrived on widespread cultivation of the grain millet, where rodents and small animals were thought to be widespread.
6) Spots come from a particular gene!
Scientists have been working on how small cats or their larger relatives came by their distinctive blotched patterns.
A recent study in 2012 pointed to a gene called Taqpep, blotched cats had mutations on both copies of the gene, while striped cats did not. They also discovered that patterned markings are caused by variations in another gene, Edn3, and are expressed at high levels in dark coloured hair cells.
It's believed that early in a cat's development, the Taqpep gene establishes a periodic pattern for stripes or a spotted or blotched pattern by determining the level of Edn4 present in each skin area.
7) They don't just purr because they’re happy!
We all know cats purr, we don’t always know why they purr though! They purr when content, giving birth, or sick, wounded or in a stressful situation. Scientists aren't quite sure but they have a general idea of why they do it;
Cats purr on both inhalation and exhalation with a consistent pattern and frequency between 25-150 Hertz. Various investigations have shown sound frequencies in this range can improve bone density and promote healing.
Due to cats adapting to conserve energy via long periods of rest and sleep, it is possible that purring is a low energy mechanism that stimulates muscles and bones without a lot of energy.
8) They really can't taste sweet things!
If you've never noticed, cats aren't interested in sweet stuff, because of a defect in the gene for part of the mammalian sweet taste receptor. This receptor contains two protein subunits, T1R2 and T1R3, which are each coded for by a separate gene.
The defect occurs on the T1R2 protein in domestic cats, but also cheetahs and tigers!
9) They are masters of lapping up liquid - while keeping their chins dry!
If you've ever watched a dog lap up water or any liquid, they generally stick there tongue half in and make a mess over the floor. Cats on the other hand, thanks to a slow-motion video which shows, it's only the smooth tip of the tongue that barely touches the surface of the liquid before the cat draws its tongue back, so rapidly the inertia forms a column of liquid that the cat closes its mouth and pinches off the end of the column, this is achieved through liquid adhesion that causes the water to stick to the cats tongue.
10) They know how to get what they want from their owners!
According to a 2009 study, cats have mastered the ability to herd their owners and get what they want from them!
They do this by apparently mimicking babies crying. Cats wanting food will make an urgent cry or meowing sound in the 220 to 520-hertz range. Babies usually cry between 300 and 600 hertz, which humans tend to find hard to ignore.
Another annoying habit cats can gain is the ability to herd - darting between our legs and / or rubbing their legs. Cats where never bred this way, however they do learn to direct human behaviour & motion, this can be done when the owner reinforces the behaviour, for example "If I do this, I'm going to get fed faster." Cat owners can get annoyed with the behaviour, so sub-consciously speed up or 'just' feed the cat.
This article was written on behalf of helpucover. helpucover is a trading style of Pinnacle Insurance plc, an insurance company who offer a range of cover including Income Protection, Pet Insurance, GAP insurance and Gadget Insurance. Visit us online at http://www.helpucover.co.uk