Cat Facts For Kids

Cat Facts

A cat or felis catus belongs to the family Felidae. There are two sub-species, the Pantherinae which includes the tiger, lion, jaguar, leopard, and snow leopard, and Felinae which includes the cougar, cheetah, lynxes, ocelot and the domestic cat.  Cats are carnivorous mammals with retractile claws.

Feral cats are domestic cats that have returned to the wild or born in the wild. The domestic cat has soft fur, a short snout and is widely kept as a pet or for catching mice.  Many breeds of cats have been developed.  Today we’re talking about the cats that we love to call pets!

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The History of Cats

Between 70,000 and 100,000 years ago the Near Eastern wildcat which roamed the deserts of Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries gave rise to the genes that eventually produced all domesticated cats as we know them today. It is often difficult or impossible for even the trained eye to tell them apart, which has made studying them really difficult.

The earliest archaeological evidence for domestic cats was found in Cyprus and dates back approximately 9,500 years. Wow, that’s a long time!

Early Egyptians worshipped a cat goddess.  Bast was a lioness goddess of the sun throughout most of Ancient Egyptian history, but later she was changed into the cat goddess Bastet. At the height of Bast’s popularity, killing a cat even accidentally was punishable by death.

The Egyptians mummified millions of cats, birds, and other creatures at temples to prepare them for the next world.  Animals were viewed not only as pets, but as types of gods and the cat was a very important animal.  Apparently the mummification techniques were often as elaborate on animals as those used on the best-preserved human corpses

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Cats were also important in the interpretation of dreams. Apparently seeing a cat in your dream confirmed that you would have a good harvest.

In Egypt it was illegal to export cats to neighboring countries. This led to a thriving trade in smuggled cats. Court records confirm that armies were occasionally dispatched to rescue the kidnapped felines and bring them home to Egypt. Ah, that’s cool!

Herodotus, a Greek historian in the 5th Century, recorded that the Persians used the Egyptian’s love of cats against them. Apparently, the Persians captured a large number of cats and let them loose on the battlefield outside Pelusium. When the Egyptians saw the terrified cats running around the battlefield, they surrendered rather than risk harm to their beloved friends. That was mean, but clever too!

How did cats become domesticated?

Some people think that cats became domesticated when people realised they preyed on rodents. So they began leaving food out to tempt the cats to pay a visit on a regular basis. Understandably the cats pretty much liked this idea as being close to humans gave them a whole heap of food. This also kept them out of harm’s way from larger predators.  Other people think that cats were simply tolerated by people and they eventually left their wild relatives and began hunting vermin for food around the villages where they lived with people.

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Some more interesting information on cats

Like their wild relatives, domestic cats are natural hunters and are able to stalk prey and pounce with sharp claws and teeth. You might have seen them stalking a bird. They have brilliant night vision, allowing them to see at light levels six times lower than what humans need to see.  Cats have excellent hearing and a strong sense of smell. They are nimble, agile and their long tails help them to balance. Cats keep those energy levels up by sleeping an average of 13 to 14 hours a day and they live to about 12 to 14 years.

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A group of cats is called a clowder, a male cat is called a tom, a female cat is called a molly or queen while young cats are called kittens. Did you know that?

Domestic cats usually weigh around 8 pounds (4 kilograms) to 11 pounds (5 kilograms). The heaviest domestic cat on record is 46 pounds (21 kilograms). That is one seriously heavy cat.  They can handle temperatures up to 133 degrees Fahrenheit (56 degrees Celsius) and can drink salt water.  They cannot taste sweet things. Oh, that’s sad for them!

When they walk their back paws step almost exactly in the same place as the front paws did beforehand. This keeps them nice and quiet and it limits visible tracks which makes them lethal hunters.

A group of cats is called a clowder, a male cat is called a tom, a female cat is called a molly or queen while young cats are called kittens. Did you know that?

kitten

How much do cats weigh?

Domestic cats usually weigh around 8 pounds (4 kilograms) to 11 pounds (5 kilograms). The heaviest domestic cat on record is 46 pounds (21 kilograms). That is one seriously heavy cat.  They can handle temperatures up to 133 degrees Fahrenheit (56 degrees Celsius) and can drink salt water.  They cannot taste sweet things. Oh, that’s sad for them!

When they walk their back paws step almost exactly in the same place as the front paws did beforehand. This keeps them nice and quiet and it limits visible tracks which makes them lethal hunters.

Cats communicate by marking trees, fence posts, or furniture with their claws or their waste and by so doing, inform others that this is where they belong.

paw prints cats

A cat’s purr hits the same sensory frequency as an infant’s cry and is thought to exploit the nurturing instinct of humans. Cats purr at the same frequency as an idling diesel engine (26 purrs per second). In their natural state you wouldn’t be able to hear them. Apparently, they’ve adapted, so that they can relate to humans with sounds.

Most female cats are right-pawed, and most male cats favor their left paws.

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Interesting Facts about Cats

  • Who would’ve known but Isaac Newton invented the cat flap after his own cat, Spithead, kept opening the door and spoiling his light experiments.
  • Senior cats of 8 years or older, often get Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, or CDS, which is similar to Alzheimer’s and they become confused and anxious and wander around crying at night. Giving them an extra blanket to regulate their body temperature, helps.
  • Cats find their way home through a process called “psi-travelling”. Experts think they navigate via the angle of sunlight, or that they have magnetized brain cells that act like compasses. Wow, that’s cool!