The 13 Things You Don’t Know about Cats

August 30, 2012 |

cat carpal pad by miss insomnia tulip

Cats have ABS Brakes
Cats have a sixth “finger” (called a carpal pad) on the inside of the wrists of the front paws. It’s also found on the paws of big cats. It is not believed to have a function in normal walking, but is thought to be an anti-skidding device used while jumping (or perhaps during a raucous game of Thundering Herd of Elephants).

Exactly how many lives do they have?
Not all countries believe that cats have nine lives. In some Spanish-speaking regions, cats are believed to have seven lives. The number drops to six in Turkey and Arabia.

No hot flashes
Cats are descended from desert cats and as a result can tolerate high temperatures well. Despite their furry coats they show no discomfort until their skin temp rises above about 126 °F.  (Humans start to feel uncomfortable when their skins temp exceeds 112 °F — except for menopausal women, who sweat anytime the ambient temperature rises above 24 °F.)  

I kidney you not
Cats’ kidneys are so efficient that cats can survive on a diet consisting only of meat, with no additional water, and can even rehydrate by drinking seawater. 

Cats don’t have a lot of taste.
The cat’s taste buds only respond to amino acids, bitter tastes and acids. They have only 473 taste buds compared to 9,000 for humans. 

cat whiskers of tripper the psycho stray cat

Which came first — the whisker or the blink?
Of course, you know that cats have dozens of whiskers all over their bodies — not just on their faces — to help with navigation in the dark. But did you know that their whiskers trigger protective blink reflexes to protect the eyes from damage?

Ferals don’t have much to say
Domestic cats use many vocalizations for communication, including purring, trilling, hissing, growling, snarling and several different forms of meowing. In fact, some have extensive vocabularies. In contrast, feral cats are generally silent.

Purrpetual PMS
The female cat’s heat periods occur about every two weeks and last 4 to 7 days.

Hairy tongues
Those barbs on the cat’s tongue that makes it feel like sandpaper are called papillae and contain keratin, a type of protein found in hair and nails.

And you thought 20-yr-olds were geezers
The oldest known cat, Creme Puff, died at a verified age of 38. Females cats, on average, live a year or two longer than males.

cats eyes

The better to see you with, my dear…
The domestic cat’s pupils are much larger, relative to their eyes, than the pupils of the big cats.

And yet, their necks are so short…
Among mammals, the cat has a rare gait called a pacing gait, in which they move the two legs on one side of the body before the legs on the other side. This gait is also employed by camels and giraffes.

Seven percent of cats snore. 





Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press

 “In the Light of Evolution III: Two Centuries of Darwin Sackler Colloquium: From wild animals to domestic pets, an evolutionary view of domestication”

 “Evidence suggesting pre-adaptation to domestication throughout the small Felidae”Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 

The Domestic Cat: The Biology of its Behaviour (2nd ed.) by Dennis Turner and Patrick Bateson (2000)

What is the difference between a stray cat and a feral cat? Humane Society of the United States

PHOTOS: Republished under the terms of the Creative Commons license. Carpal Pad: Miss Insomnia Tulip; Cat Whiskers: Karen Nichols; Cat Eyes: Tomer Arazy

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Category: 0 - Featured, Lifestyle, Thursday Thirteen

About the Author ()

Karen Nichols is a Pet Industry Influencer, Publisher and Multimedia Designer in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has over 15 years of experience in the Internet Industry as a User Experience Analyst and Interaction Design Consultant. She's blogged professionally for nine years, and is a respected expert in social media, web analytics, online branding and Wordpress design and development. She's a popular speaker at pet industry conferences. In 2013, she won the BlogPaws social media awards for Best Cat Blog and Best video. In 2012, Karen won the Best Blog Design award for She was one of seven finalists in the national Purina Cat Chow Correspondent search in 2010. She has been a spokesperson for Friskies and judge of the 2012 "The Friskies" video contest, and a juror for the Internet Cat Video Festival. Karen is a member of the Cat Writer's Association, Women in the Pet Industry, the IAABC, The Interactive Design Association and the North Bay Multimedia Association.

Comments (6)

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  1. Penelope says:

    Cool. Mommy always wondered about that carpel pad!

  2. Ichiro says:

    Chey is part of the 7% HA HA HA!!!!

  3. great – now mom is gonna come home and stare at us while we walk. 🙂 And Tommy doesn’t snore – he mumbles. hahaha

  4. Francois le Furry says:

    Good stuff! Didn’t know i had skid brakes!

  5. That’s pretty good! I like the one about different cultures thinking cats have a different number of lives – but they’re all LOTS of lives! MOL.



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