America’s favorite pet is the cat. That’s right, there are about 96 million pet cats in the U.S., compared to 83 million pet dogs. About 46 percent of households have one cat, and 24 percent have three or more. It’s hard not to love these furry ruffians, even if they are somewhat more aloof than their canine friends.
While dogs and cats are very different beasts, both have their share of super powers. We explored Super Dogs in our previous blog, so now it’s the felines’ turn. Here are some of the things that make cats so super:
Speed demons: Though they might prefer to sleep, motivated cats can run 30 miles per hour for short distances, faster than the 23 mph attained by the world’s fastest human sprinter.
Lightning reflexes: Cats have an amazing ability to land on their feet. Their reflexes can right their position quickly when falling so that a cat will land on its feet. The secret is in their flexible backbones. In fact, you will not believe how the cat in this video was able to rescue itself when stuck up a 60 ft. telephone pole.
Jolly jumpers: Cats can jump five times their own height. For a little perspective, an average sized man could duplicate the feat if he jumped 30 feet in the air.
Tower of Babel: Dogs can make about 10 different vocalizations. On the other hand, about 100 different cat sounds have been catalogued so far.
Cat burglars: Cats aren’t reticent about going after what they want, be it the milk in your glass or the pencil on your desk. Cats can be adept burglars – just leave a tuna sandwich on the counter to see for yourself.
The eyes have it: Cats can see an astounding 285-degree field of view, compared to the human’s 180 degrees. Furthermore, cat’s night vision is six-times as powerful as are own. Sometimes, cats seem to stare at walls for long stretches of time. Is it X-ray vision, or simply that they’ve spotted an insect flitting around?
Reverse Houdinis: The famous magician could escape from any box. On the other hand, cats can squeeze into practically any size box, and seem to love doing it. It makes sense, as cats in the wild need to hide from predators and stay hidden as they stalk prey.
Let sleeping cats lie: Cats sleep a super 16 hours a day, much more than almost all other mammals. But what makes them even more super is that they can sleep just about anywhere, including thin railings, your computer keyboard, even on a few coat hangers.
Don’t fence me in: Although cats are perfectly content to hide out in a box or closet, they do not like it when you put them into confined spaces. If you close a door on a cat, chances are it will figure a way to claw the door open. In the process, it might scratch at the door or the surrounding carpet and floor, all the while meowing like a, well, crazy cat.
The nose knows: Cats have even more olfactory sensors than do dogs, about 200 million, more or less. Their sense of smell is 14 times more acute than ours. In addition to its nose, a cat has a special area on the roof of its mouth that act as a scent organ. You can see it in action whenever a cat wrinkles its muzzle, points its chin downward and sticks out its tongue.
Ultrasonic: Dogs hear pretty well, but cats can hear even better. Cats can hear frequencies above the range of dogs, and far above humans. They also have the ability to localize to within three inches, a sound made three feet away. This ability is handy for catching prey.
Uh, what? When recalling where a treat’s been hidden, dogs have short-term memory of about 5 minutes. Compare that to cats, who can remember the morsel’s location after 16 hours.
Tongue twisters: Admittedly, a cat’s tongue feels a little like sandpaper. The roughness is due to a lining of papillae, which are tiny hooks that hold prey in place. But the real talent of their tongues is the ability to lap up water with just the tip and then close their mouth around the droplet before it can spill, at an incredible four laps per second. By contrast, a dog drinks by scooping up water into its mouth (and the surrounding floor).
Cats most amazing super power is that they make our lives longer and healthier. Owning a pet can lower your blood pressure, reduce heart attacks and generally bring a smile to your face. If you own one or more cats, make sure they are seen by your veterinarian regularly and that they receive all their shots. Vets can advise owners on proper feeding and nutrition, and may even sell high-quality cat food right from their offices. A properly cared-for cat can live for many years, so help make each day of its life, super.
Dr. Paul has a strong interest in avian and exotic animal medicine and surgery, as well as small animal internal medicine and surgery.
He has provided services for numerous breeders, kennels, aviaries, and mini zoos.