Friday, 16 August 2013

Kitty corner

These three adorable little kitties are called Fluffy, Taffy and Tiddles. Aren't they just the sweetest little darlings in the whole wide world?

Unfortunately they can't speak. But if they did, they could tell you some fascinating facts about cats:

1) Cats were sacred to the Ancient Egyptians, who worshipped a cat god called Bastet, and mummified their cats to prepare them for the afterlife.
2) Cats spend two thirds of their day dozing or doing absolutely nothing.
3) Studies show that many more people claim to own cats than there are cats. (?)
4) The word "tabby" comes from a cloth: a kind of striped silk taffeta. It derived from the Arabic Attabiy, the quarter of old Baghdad where it was originally made.
5) Up to 85 per cent of white cats with two blue eyes are deaf.
6) Like many small animals, cats have a non-fatal falling velocity - in cats this is about 60 mph. Once they relax, they orient themselves, spread out, and parachute to earth like a squirrel. Some cats have fallen 30 storeys or more without ill effects.
7) A single pair of cats and their kittens can produce 420,000 kittens in seven years.
8) Sir Isaac Newton invented the cat flap.
9) Cats can make over 100 vocal sounds, while dogs can make only ten. (?)
10) A cat's tail contains over 20 bones, helping it to balance on narrow surfaces.
11) A cat can move at a top speed of around 30 mph.
12) A cat can jump up to five times its own height in a single bound.
13) There is no mouse-flavoured cat food because the test subjects (cats!) didn't like it.
14) Milk is bad for cats. It gives them upset stomachs, cramps and diarrhoea. Diarrhoea can be fatal to kittens because it dehydrates them. All cats need is fresh water.

(?) Can this really be true?


  1. The one that really jumps out at me is that more people claim to own cats, than there are cats. I find this hard to believe because I don't think anyone has counted (or could count) the huge number of feral cats there are in places like Greece. There must be quite a few strays in England. I mean, how did they get this figure?? It's bugging me! :)

  2. I've never lived with a cat and am interested in the 100+ vocal sounds. Dogs make more than ten, though, assuming barking, growling etc aren't just counted as one each (because if they are, the same would have to go for yowling, mewing, purring) but they also have very expressive faces. I can't tell what a cat is saying to me by its face, but is that just because I don't know cats well enough or do they make different sounds instead?

  3. I like the idea of a non-fatal falling velocity.

    I take the Terry Pratchet view about heights. It's not the height that kills you, it's that last half inch.

  4. Jenny: It seems a bit unlikely to me too. I've tried tracking down a source but with no success. As you say, there are many feral and stray cats.

    Z: Can't find a source for this one either, though it's a very oft-repeated "fact". The only sounds I can find are meowing, purring, chirruping, chattering, growling, hissing and caterwauling. I think I might have to revise this list to remove the urban myths!

    Rosemarie: I like Terry Pratchet's view - all too true!

  5. I don't think people own cats, rather the cats own the owners!

  6. Grannymar: Very true in my experience!

  7. I hate the fact that some pet owners call their animals fluffy and tiddles

    In my mind...(and it's a minor bleeding deal) a pet should have a bloody PROPER Name

  8. I don't see it on your list but cats had to invent their sounds just for humans.

    I've been owned by many cats. Never chose a cat. My felines were always canine in temperament due to their being socialized to our dogs.

    Having said all that I'm not much of a cat fan but I've adored the ones that have found and owned me. Strange that.


  9. John: I totally agree. Of course those names were made up, I've no idea of the kittens' actual names!

    www: As Grannymar said, cats tend to own their owners! Interesting - how exactly does a cat have a canine temperament? Does it romp rather than run? Does it lick you a lot?

  10. Wow, this is an interesting and provocative post!

    I love number 3. I can only assume this is because cats tend to have many homes, if they can possibly do so - that's in countries where they are allowed free roam outside, of course. We had one that had at least three other 'owners' besides us. Of course, none of those paid his vet bills.

    The one about the 100 vocal cat sounds compared to 10 dog sounds is patently untrue. Sure, they have a couple of extras compared to dogs: hissing and purring, but in fact anyone who has been around greyhounds for long can tell you that they not only communicate with barks, growls, yips, whines, howls, and the famous Greyhound Scream of Death (GSOD for short) but they also chatter their teeth, and use 'huffing' sounds and panting to communicate. Not to mention their quite extraordinarily complex range of body language which can range from subtleties like eye movement to play bows, licks, smiles (wrinkling of the lips in a particular way) and nudging you with their head - and sometimes their whole body.

    No wonder cats had to invent a language for humans! Tee hee!

    Love the 'up to 85%' too. What exactly does THAT mean?

  11. Jay: Good point about number three. I'm sure Katie, one of our local cats, visits several local houses regularly. But I wouldn't think any of the householders (including us) would say we "owned" Katie. So that claim is still a bit mysterious.

    Of course your extensive knowledge of greyhounds would make you doubt that claim about dog and cat sounds straightaway! I can't find any detailed explanation of this rather unlikely claim.

    Presumably "up to 85%" is an estimate based on a small sample of white cats?

  12. You see, I knew I wasn't a cat: there's no way I can jump that high.

    I'm surprised you didn't put a ? by number 5. That sounds a very high proportion.

  13. Liz: Why are you surprised by number 5? Deafness is very common in white cats.

  14. I am not a cat owner, I am their unpaid housekeeper!!

  15. Bonsaimum: I hope you're keeping them in the style to which they're accustomed!

  16. Weird about the milk. I've never been a pet owner, but always seemed as though people in books or TV gave their cats a dish of milk.

  17. Bijoux: I know, it's amazing how a popular image can persist even when it's completely erroneous.

  18. We had one of those white, blue-eyed deaf cats when I was growing up. It would sit and stare at its reflection in the car's hubcap.

  19. Agent: Narcissism or just passing the time, I wonder?