You are far from alone if you lovingly believe your cat is weird. We cat owners love our pets’ endearing quirks—and they have a lot of them—but we often scratch our heads, when we try to understand these complex creatures. To help you better understand your flummoxing feline, our Premier Pet Hospital team shares some fascinating feline facts.
#1: A house cat shares 95.6% of their genetic makeup with tigers
You have likely seen your cat channeling their inner tiger when they play. Sure, tigers hide in bushes, while your cat hides in an empty Amazon box, and instead of hunting their next meal, your cat is determined to take down that darn mouse toy. But your cat is more similar to the tiger than you may have realized. Researchers sequencing tiger, snow leopard, and lion genomes note that the domestic house cat shares 95.6% of their DNA with the tiger, as well as instinctual behaviors such as scent and urine marking, prey stalking, and pouncing. You are likely amazed to learn your beloved pet is so closely linked to the mighty tiger.
#2: Cats have more than facial whiskers
In addition to facial whiskers, cats have whiskers above their eyes, near their ears, and on the back of their forelegs. All your cat’s whiskers have an important function, including:
- Balancing — Sensory organs (i.e., proprioceptors), located at each whisker’s tip, send messages to your cat’s brain regarding their body and limb position, helping them maintain their balance as they move.
- Navigating — Your cat’s facial whiskers help them determine an object’s distance, direction, and texture.
- Hunting — Whiskers on the back of your cat’s front legs (i.e., carpal whiskers) provide crucial hunting information by detecting the prey’s position and movements. While most domestic cats no longer need to hunt live prey, they use these whiskers when playing with toys.
- Communicating — Although your cat cannot tell you how they feel, their facial whisker position may clue you in to their mood. When your cat is calm and content, their whiskers are relaxed. When your cat is unhappy or frightened, they flatten their whiskers against their face. When your cat is alert and watchful, their whiskers are pushed forward.
#3: Cats sleep for an average of 15 hours per day
Cats’ snoozing habits remind us that we could all use more sleep. Our feline friends spend roughly 70% of their lives sleeping—usually short naps throughout the day, with energy bursts in between. This sporadic sleep schedule may be evolutionary, as cats in the wild expend energy in short bursts while they hunt, usually followed by a meal, and a nap. Sleeping helps all cats conserve energy for hunting behaviors such as stalking, chasing, climbing, pouncing, and running, which are necessary for survival in the wild, and for physical exercise and mentally stimulating play at home.
#4: A cat can jump five times their height
You have likely been surprised to find your cat sitting atop a tall shelf or cabinet, wondering how they got there. Your cat’s flexible musculoskeletal system provides exceptional coordination and balance, helping them attain heights with ease. Cats also have strong hindquarter and back muscles that enable them to jump several times their length. In addition, their curved claws help your cat grip surfaces as they climb, similar to a human using crampons in the snow.
#5: Cats cannot taste sweet
If your cat is a picky eater, they may be finicky because they do not have taste buds to sense sweetness, unlike other mammals. The domesticated cat’s inability to taste sweet is likely attributable to evolution, because cats in the wild are carnivores—requiring a meat-only diet, and having no need or use for carbohydrates. While you may believe your cat enjoys sweets such as marshmallows, ice cream, or cotton candy, they are likely eating these foods for the fat, not the flavor.
We cat lovers find our feline friends’ quirky weirdness endearing, and we want them to live their best lives. All cats need regular, preventive veterinary care, and our veterinary professionals are here to support their health and wellbeing. Contact our Premier Pet Hospital team to schedule your little tiger’s next wellness appointment.