Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ten Need-to-Know Cat Facts

facts about cats

Cats can be a bit mysterious – even to those of us who love them most. Sometimes independent and aloof and other times so cuddly and affectionate we think we'll be overcome with coziness, our feline family members nevertheless do have a few idiosyncrasies. The more we can understand how our cats see, hear, and navigate through the world, the better we’ll be able to care for them. Here are ten need-to-know facts about our feline friends:

1. Cats' whiskers are an important part of their natural navigation equipment. They use them to sense air movement and detect when objects are close enough to obstruct their passage. Cats whose whiskers are clipped or damaged can become disoriented and uncomfortable.

2. Cats have one of the broadest hearing ranges of any mammal. They can hear ultra high-frequency sounds that humans can't. This helps them in hunting, since mice and other rodents communicate using ultrasound.

3. Cats can see extremely well at night, yet not as well in the daytime, particularly when looking at objects from close range. This is partly due to a blind spot that prevents them from seeing objects that are directly in front of them. They can see faraway objects much better and tend to depend more on motion or scent to help them notice the presence of an insect or other animal that's nearby. Learn more about this blind spot here.

4. A cat's sense of smell is more acute than its eyesight. Cats learn more about their surroundings through their sense of smell than they do through sight. While cats can see fairly well from a distance, they rely primarily on their highly developed sense of smell to detect things, animals, or people that are in closer proximity.

5. Cats are lactose intolerant. Many people are unaware that cats cannot digest cow's milk, which can cause digestive disturbances, including diarrhea. Goat's milk is easier for them to digest and may be used as a substitute, if desired, though cats no longer require milk for nourishment once they've been weaned.

6. Chocolate is toxic to cats. The caffeine and theobromine in chocolate can over-stimulate your cat's heart and nervous system, and the darker the chocolate, the worse the level of chocolate intoxication and the more serious the reaction can be. So, keep that half-eaten chocolate bar out of sight.

7. Garlic and onions are also toxic to cats. Garlic and onions, whether cooked or raw, can damage your cat's red blood cells if given in large enough quantities. Keep this in mind if your kitty is a fan of table scraps! In fact, cat owners would do well to keep a list of foods that are toxic to cats on their refrigerator, just in case.

8. Cats need a lot of sleep. According to MentalFloss, cats sleep twice as much as humans and can easily nap on-and-off for 15 hours a day or more. This is normal. However, if your cat becomes lethargic, seems uninterested in food, or demonstrates a major change in sleep behavior, consult your vet.

9. Cats can be allergic to humans and their lifestyle. Household dust, human scents such as perfume, and human activities such as smoking can create discomfort for cats. If your cat coughs a lot, feline asthma caused by allergens could be to blame.

10. Cats can contract the feline form of Alzheimer's. To reduce the risk of this serious form of dementia in your cat, be sure to provide a healthy environment, a nourishing diet, and lots of attention and mental stimulation. Learn more about feline Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment here.

By paying attention to a few characteristics that are common to cats, you can help keep yours healthier and more content. And we think you’ll be happier for that, too!

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