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The Cat’s Out of the Bag: Some Interesting Cat Facts

by Janine Boylan on July 22, 2013

illustrating a sense of curiosity about recent cat research

You want facts? Whatever it was, I didn’t do it.
© Thinkstock

A Sense of Curiosity About the Facts

Cats. People tend to have a lot of opinions about them.

So my sense of curiosity took over: How do the facts about domestic cats stack up to what we think we know? I tackled some recent cat research to find out, and the interesting cat facts provided many “Oh, I see” moments!

Cats vs. Dogs

Cats are the most popular pets. Or are they?

The U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographic Sourcebook states that there were more than 74 million pet cats in the United States in 2012 and just under 70 million pet dogs.

So the cats win!

Dog and cat

© Thinkstock

BUT 36.5 percent of U.S. households own dogs, while just 30.4 percent own cats.

The average number of dogs per owner is 1.6; the average number of cats per owner is 2.1.

I think we can call the popularity contest a draw . . .

Cats Are Hunters

We know cats hunt. They remind us of this by lovingly leaving dead lizards or mice for us to step on.

The University of Georgia and National Geographic collaborated on a study of what cats do in the great outdoors. They fixed tiny cameras, called “kitty cams,” to the feline collars and let the cameras roll.

Just 44% of the cats in the study killed prey. And the hunting felines averaged two captures during seven days outside.

The study revealed that, contrary to popular opinion, these cats did not capture many birds. Most of their victims were lizards, small mammals, and insects.

The researchers—and most lizards, small mammals, and insects—recommend keeping cats indoors to minimize the hunting.

Cats Like to Roam

Outdoor cats seem to wander for miles. Or do they?

The BBC and the Royal Veterinary College in England joined forces for some recent cat research. Like the Georgia study, this British team used small cameras on cats’ collars to reveal what the felines do during the day.

While the study collected footage of cats stalking prey, defending their territories, and getting out of laundry hampers, GPS trackers in the collars tracked how far cats roamed.

cat chasing off another cat, illustrating a sense of curiosity about recent cat research

A cat defends his territory from another who has roamed too far.
© Thinkstock

Researchers found that different cats had a variety of habits—some roamed with clear intention clear across town or deep into the woods; some went no farther than their own yards.

Use this interactive feature to see the roaming maps and videos of some of the British cats. For more interesting cat facts, view the BBC documentary about the research here.

Cats Cheat!

When your cat disappears for a day or so and then casually returns and turns up his nose at dinner, it’s easy to suspect that he has a hidden life—perhaps another family to feed him.

Both of the cat-camera-research teams confirmed this scandalous truth. Four of the cats in the “kitty cam” study actually had adopted a second family to love and feed them.

Cats in the British study would regularly crawl through their neighbors’ cat doors and consume food.

The BBC study also revealed another surprise. One sly feral cat would come into a home for several hours at a time to lounge and consume food without the homeowner’s knowledge!

cat food ad, illustrating a sense of curiosity about recent cat research

Even this cat food ad questions your cat’s trustworthiness!
© Kristie Feltner

Cats Rule the Internet

One thing is for sure, cats (or kitteh) rule the Internet.

Ben Huh, creator of the I Can Has Cheezburger network, declares, “We have created weapons of mass cuteness. We’ve been doing it for 10,000 years and everybody’s surprised: ‘Oh my god I can’t believe we love cats!’ We biologically engineer them to be the object of our affections.”

OK, ok. But give me the facts.

Huh reports that people submit ten times as many cat images to his site than dog images.

Blogger Arron Santos devoted a post to calculating the number of cat images on the Internet. He determined there are between 1.5 x 107 and 2.5 x 1011 images of cats online. Since he did this calculation a few years ago, the number has surely gone up.

Cats, showing a sense of curiosity about recent cat research

Kittehs, kittehs, and more kittehs
© Thinkstock

Perhaps one of the obvious signs that cats rule the Web is the fact that there is now an Internet Cat Video Festival.

Henri, Le Chat Noir (played by Henry with voice by creator Will Braden) won the People’s Choice Golden Kitty award there for his video.

If the video does not display, watch it here.

The Facts Stack Up

Oh, I see—the facts about cats are just like the animals themselves: familiar with a few surprises. Even with a sense of curiosity and continued research, we may never truly know all the facts about our fuzzy feline friends.

Except that cats do rule the Internet.

Comment on this post below, or inspire insight with your own OIC Moment here.



12 thoughts on “The Cat’s Out of the Bag: Some Interesting Cat Facts

  1. My miniature kitty, Shelly Is so cute, she is a Tabby. My cousin is usually the only one who visits and is note very good with pets, but now when he comes over, Shelly coos at him and seeks his attention and they both love it, so do I.

  2. It takes both cats and dogs for mankind to create civilization. The dog uses its sensitive nose to alert mankind to the presence of threats while they are still far enough away for the humans to defend themselves. Thus, the dog lets mankind live long enough to be able to think about forming settled communities. Once mankind settles down and starts farming, the cat becomes crucial. The cat kills the insects, mice, and rats that would eat the stored grain that both the human and the dog (to the extent that it supplements its diet with the table scraps from the human table) depend on for survival.

    It is the dog that makes mankind an “apex predator”, but it is the cat that allows both to establish villages and thereby develop a civilization.

  3. It sounds weird but a cat can be a wonderful friend and companion for shut-ins like me.

    Unlike dogs (which I also love dearly) my cat never asks to be walked twice a day; doesn’t knock over my furniture or sweep things off my coffee table with its tail. She doesn’t bark at the slightest sound at the front door either.

    If I could, I’d have a dozen of the little fur-balls but, alas, the physical demands on my frail body would be much more than I’d be able to bear.

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