Fascinating Facts About Cats


Nov 17, 2014 by British Blog

They are either the most, or the second-most, popular pet in the UK (there is some dispute about the numbers), and have been domesticated since the time of the ancient Egyptians, yet there is still an awful lot that is unknown about the household cat.



Much of this is down to breeding - or the lack of it. Dogs have been bred selectively, with the aim of achieving particular traits, for many thousands of years, but the same cannot be said of cats. In fact, cats have only been bred for specific qualities since Victorian times, which means they are much closer in type to their wild ancestor (Felis silvestris lybica, which lived in Africa tens of thousands of years ago) than dogs are to theirs.

This means that natural selection, rather than human intervention, has generated the personalities and traits of today's pet cats. It also means that domestic and feral cats are fundamentally the same.


Making friends

However, not everything about cats is natural. While studies have shown that kittens replicate the social behaviour of their parents, humans do dictate feline domestic behaviour, at least to some extent. Researchers have found that cats handled by humans between the ages of three and seven weeks tend to become friendly and sociable, while those who miss out on this human contact before seven weeks, tend to remain shy or stand-offish for life.

This extends to cats' relationships with other animals, too. Cats introduced to other pets between the ages of three and seven weeks tend to bond with them; even, in some cases, if they would be expected to hunt them in the wild. That is why cases have been reported of cats being 'best friends' with pet mice, dogs and even birds.

Many people seem to think that dogs and cats are natural enemies, but in fact it seems they simply have a communication problem. The body language of dogs is very different to that of cats, so they find it hard to interpret each other, just as speakers of different human languages might. In fact, there is no reason why cats and dogs cannot live harmoniously together - many do - but this is made much easier if they are introduced at a young age, ideally when both are six months old or less.



While many cats are undeniably bright, the scientific community tends to credit dogs with greater brainpower. A 2010 study concluded that social animals, such as dogs, had evolved greater brain function than solo creatures, such as cats. However, cats are acknowledged to be more verbally expressive than dogs: some wild cats have even been known to imitate the call of their prey in order to attract them.


Fat felines

While the British love of cats shows no sign of abating, some are killing their cats with kindness, in the form of over-feeding. Most domestic cats get relatively little exercise, so only need around 200 calories a day. However, many cat foods contain more calories than that in a single serving, contributing to an epidemic of feline obesity that has many vets worried.