Strange Cat Things

Cats are one of the most popular choices as human friends, and I absolutely adore them! I hope to have a feline friend in the future and hopefully, you will too if you don’t have one already. Among all the cute actions that these creatures engage in daily, there are some anomalies that make their human friends ponder. These fun facts may answer a question or two you’ve had and enlighten you with the uniqueness and awesomeness of cats.

The cats we have in our homes are really similar to wild cats!
Compared to dogs, cats have been domesticated for only half as long and still engage in behaviors similar to wild, big cats such as lions and tigers. Their genes have not changed much from that of wildcats, except for one distinguishing factor: the coat patterns seen on the tabby cat (“Cats Domesticated Themselves, Ancient DNA Shows,” 2018).

Cats cannot taste sweetness. 
Like humans, cats are able to taste saltiness, bitterness, sourness, and umami! The genes Tas1r2 and Tas1r3 allow sweet tasting in mammals by encoding sweet sensing receptors. Cats have both of these genes, but their Tas1r2 gene, however, is a pseudogene, or nonfunctional copies of a functional gene (Li, Li, Wang, Bayley, Cao, Reed, Bachmanov, Huang, Legrand-Defretin, Beauchamp, and Brand, 2006).

Why do cats kill unbelievable amounts of mice and birds?
As natural-hunters, cats still carry unstoppable instincts that they’ve had thousands of years ago. Female cats are also found to engage in hunting more often to teach their young how to acquire food and feed (Palermo, 2013).

Cats will bite in response to being overstimulated, not because they hate you!
Overstimulation typically occurs in attention-seeking, friendly cats. When these felines are continuously being pet, it appears that there can be a buildup of stress for these animals leading to aggressive behaviors. Cats may give some warning signs before their impending aggression such as a continuous, whipping tail, flattened ears, and a tense body (“Overstimulation in Cats,” n.d.).

Cats meow only to communicate with humans!
Meows are usually found in kittens that need to communicate with their mother. However, communication between older cats consists of growling and hissing. Meowing is exclusively used by felines to tell their humans if they may be hungry, stressed, or needing attention (“Cats and Excessive Meowing,” n.d.).

Cats sleep a lot, but why?
Cats sleep up to 16 hours a day – that’s 67% of the day! This is because they need energy for hunting-like behaviors such as pouncing and chasing (Cespedes, n.d.).

Cats are crepuscular, so their schedules are completely different from humans.
They are most active at dawn and dusk, and often nap during the day while basking in the sun (Cespedes, n.d.). Though this is their natural schedule, cats may adjust their sleeping to fit their owner’s schedule.

Why do cats bury their excretions?
Burying waste is an instinct that cats have in order to mark their territory and avoid attention from predators (Melina, 2011). Their excretions have unique pheromones, making it possible for other cats to differentiate it from their own waste.

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References

Cats and Excessive Meowing. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/cats-excessive-meowing#1

Cats Domesticated Themselves, Ancient DNA Shows. (2018, April 24). Retrieved from https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/06/domesticated-cats-dna-genetics-pets-science/

Cespedes, Y. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.petmd.com/cat/behavior/evr_ct_why_do_cats_sleep_so_much

Li, X., Li, W., Wang, H., Bayley, D. L., Cao, J., Reed, D. R., Bachmanov, A. A., Huang, L., Legrand-Defretin, V., Beauchamp, G. K., … Brand, J. G. (2006). Cats lack a sweet taste receptor. The Journal of nutrition136(7 Suppl), 1932S-1934S.

Melina, R. Why Do Cats Bury Their Poop? (2011, March 23). Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/33147-why-do-cats-bury-their-poop.html

Overstimulation in Cats. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.treehouseanimals.org/site/PageServer?pagename=caring_ccg_overstimulation

Palermo, E. Why Do Cats Bring Home Dead Animals? (2013, March 29). Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/34471-cats-dead-animals.html

Surprising Things You Never Knew About Your Cat. (2015, December 03). Retrieved from https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/12/151203-cats-animals-science-communication-pets/

 

 

 

Anna Ho
Anna is a pre-medicine Neuroscience undergraduate at Georgia Tech. In her free time, she enjoys watching anime, drinking bubble tea, and spending time on her piano. She is also obsessed with cats.