10 facts about cats that you never knew

Two Ginger cats relaxing
(Image credit: Future)

They might not have nine lives or bring misfortune based on their colour, but there’s still plenty of facts about cats to spark the interest of even the most jaded fan of felines. So if you want to celebrate the fluffy bundles of fun that are Felis Catus, try sharing some of these cat facts with your family and friends. 

1. Cats have two vocal cords

Dogs have a range of around ten sounds, but cats can make over a hundred different noises. This is because they have thick folds of membrane in their larynx, known as false vocal cords, which can vibrate to produce a greater variety of sounds.

2. Purring can influence emotion in humans

Karen McComb, a behavioural ecologist, discovered that cats alter their purr when they’re after something. Called the “soliciting purr”, the cat adds a cry to the sound, giving it a frequency of 380Hz, which is within the range of a human baby cry. Humans intrinsically react to this sound, so when they hear the purr, they naturally respond. A similar explanation has been offered to answer the question “why do cats meow?”

3.Cats use their whiskers like radar

A cat’s whiskers (vibrissae) do more than prevent it getting stuck in things. The whiskers are embedded in tons of nerves and blood vessels, making them work like kitty radar. Thanks to whiskers, a cat can navigate around objects in the dark and also judge distances.

A ginger cat sunning itself

(Image credit: Future)

4. An undercoat protects them from extreme temperatures

Able to stand high or low temperatures, even indoor cats will grow an undercoat that offers protection from hot or cold. This is why cats can be found happily sleeping next to a radiator oozing out intense heat all evening. Humans will feel uncomfortable when their skin temperature passes around 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit), but a cat won’t notice anything up to around 52 degrees Celsius (126 Fahrenheit).

5. Cats mimic other animals, including snakes!

A lot of animals mimic scarier ones if they feel threatened and some behaviour experts believe a cat’s hiss is meant to mimic a snake. It’s easy to see why; in addition to the actual hiss, a cat will push its ears down, bear its fangs, squint its eyes and spray saliva – making it look very snake-like.

A black and white cat, curled up an sleeping

(Image credit: Future)

6. Cats are asleep two thirds of their life

As cats spend around two thirds of their days asleep, a six-year old cat will only have been awake for two years of its life! It makes sense to get them the best cat bed you can find then...

7. A cat’s field of vision is 200 degrees 

A human’s field of vision is 180 degrees, but a cat’s is around 200. They also have much better peripheral vision than humans, so even if they aren’t looking directly at an object, they can still track its movements. This is just perfect for keeping a sneaky eye on prey, or treats or playing with the best laser toys for cats.

8. Cats have scent glands in their paws

When a cat kneads at a surface, they transfer their scent and mark it as belonging to them. They actually have scent glands in the pads on their paws, so when they do this paddy-paw action on your lap, they are basically marking you as their territory.

Kittens drinking

(Image credit: Future)

9. They don’t need to drink to survive

You should always provide water for your cat either in a cat bowl or a pet water fountain, but they don’t actually drink much. Cats have evolved to get sufficient water from prey and, like camels, have various tricks for maximum water absorption. A wild cat’s prey is 70 to 75 percent water, the best wet cat food has moisture content of around 80 per cent, but the best dry cat foods are only around five to ten per cent

10. They can smell with their mouth!

Cats have a special organ just behind their teeth, so when they sniff something good they can open their mouth to collect the smell.

Dave Harfield

Dave has over 20 years experience in publishing during which he launched many successful magazine titles including How It Works, All About Space and All About History. He’s also pet parent to a retired police dog called Rebel, who can’t work anymore due to a health condition. When’s not busy trying to amuse a boisterous, three-year-old German Shepherd, Dave's the Editor on PetsRadar.