Paws for a Moment by Bonny Corbeil

Bonny with her furry friends.

Fun Facts About Cats

I have not always been a big cat lover. In my younger days, I preferred dogs, probably because of my need for affection and attention. I always thought cats were simply too indifferent to people — independent and self-centered.

It was not until I came to St. John in the early 80s that I found myself more interested in cats. It began because I saw so many of them everywhere, doing their best to survive. A number found me where I lived and of course, I started to feed and pay attention to them. Thus began my love affair with the feline! I now have four live-in cats, each with individual and unique personalities. I also have a dozen at our Calabash Cat Orphanage who continually amaze me with their intelligence and interactions with each other as a “family.”

I recently found out some fascinating cat trivia that will interest the many cat-lovers that we have on St. John, or at least, make those who are indifferent to cats, look at cats in a different light!

• 95 percent of cat owners admit that they talk to their cats.

• A cat can be either left-pawed or right-pawed; it can jump as much as seven times its height.

• A cat cannot see directly under its nose, which is why it has trouble finding the tidbit on the floor.

• A cat sees about six times better than humans because of “tapetum lucidum,” a layer of extra reflecting cells which absorb light.

• A cat uses its whiskers to determine if a space is too small to squeeze through — they act as feelers or antennae; cats have four rows of whiskers.

• A cat will almost never meow at another cat; they use this sound for humans.

• A cat will clean itself with paw and tongue after a dangerous experience or after it has fought with another cat. It is believed to be a “natural way” for it to soothe itself.

• A cat will never break a sweat because it has no sweat glands.

• A cat will spend 30 percent of its time grooming itself.

• A cat’s arching back is part of a complex body language system, usually associated with feeling threatened. The arch is able to get so high because the cat’s spine contains nearly 60 vertebrae which fit loosely together. Humans have only 34 vertebrae.

• A cat’s heart beats at 110 to 140 beats per minute — twice as fast as a human heart.

• A cat’s sense of taste is keener than a dog’s; its hearing rates as one of the top of any animal.

• A cat’s tail held high is happiness; switching means “be warned” and tucked in is insecurity.

• A cat’s tail plays a vital part in its balance and in its “righting reflex” to land on its feet.

• All cats are born with blue eyes; calico cats are almost always female.

• A cat’s tongue is “scratchy” to hook into its prey.

• Black cat superstitions originated in America; in Asia and England they are considered lucky.

• A female cat begins mating between five and nine months.

• Both humans and cats have identical regions in the brain responsible for emotion.

• A cat’s brain is more similar to a human brain than a dog’s.

• Ancient Egyptians believed that cats were sacred.

• Cat lovers included Cardinal Richelieu (he had 14 of them!) and Abraham Lincoln.

• Ailurophobia is the fear of cats. Julius Caesar, Henry II, Charles XI, and Napoleon all suffered from this. Napoleon would nearly faint in the presence of a cat!

• Lastly…a group of kittens is called a kindle; a group of cats a clowder.

I hope that you have enjoyed these bits of trivia and have a new respect for these wonderful animals as pets. And, not to worry. I don’t think our ACC is going to change its “Cat Feeding Stations” to “Clowder Feeding Stations” anytime soon! Feel free to e-mail me [email protected] for input.