Cat Facts | Interesting Facts about Cats

Throughout the centuries, by many cats have been considered mysterious creatures. From a symbol of divinity in ancient times to a symbol of the devil in the middle ages, these elegant and agile animals haven’t stopped fascinating us.

Below are 35 cat facts that will broaden your knowledge about our feline friends.

Cat facts you didn’t know about

General Facts about Cats

1. How many cats are in the world?

It’s estimated that there are 200 million cats in the world.

cats in the united states
There are 200 million cats in the world. 25% of the total cat population is in the United States. It means that 1 in 4 people in the US has a cat. (Photo credit: 37prime on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA)


2. Which territory has the biggest population of cats?

The greatest number of cats is in the USA (25% of the total cat population).


3. How long do cats live on average?

The average lifespan of a domesticated cat is on average from 12 to 15 years.


4. What’s the equivalent of cat years to human years?

1 year of a cat’s life is the equivalent of 7 human years. A cat that has reached 2 years of age has gone through the equivalent of human childhood and the teenage years and is in its twenties. Cats are deemed middle-aged at about 7 years where they are the equivalent of a human age of 40 years. Any cat that is beyond this age can be considered to be heading for old age.

old cat
The average lifespan for a cat is between 12 and 15 years. A 20-year-old cat is equivalent to a 100-year-old human. Old cats sleep a lot and are less active. (Photo credit: la fattina on Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND)


5. Where do cats take their personalities from?

Cat’s personality is passed on in the DNA by its parents (accounts for 75% of personality makeup), modified by the learned behavior and environmental circumstances of its birth and early life (accounts for 25% of personality makeup).


6. Who first domesticated cats?

Domestication of the cat began in the ancient Middle East, in Egypt. Egyptians encouraged wild cats to live in their grain barns in order to reduce the number of rats, mice, and locusts.

cats catch mice and rats
Cats are masters of hunting and are used to keep down the number of rodents around human settlements and food storage. It’s known that rats and mice have an innate fear of cats and they are likely to abandon their nests if cats persist in their area.


7. What is a ‘tom’ cat and what is a ‘queen’ cat?

‘Tom’ is a name given to an un-neutered (uncastrated) male cat and ‘queen’ is a name given to an un-neutered (unspayed) female cat.


8. What is a ‘feral’ cat?

A ‘feral’ cat is a name given to a domesticated cat that has partially regressed back to the wild.


9. Do domesticated cats live longer than feral cats?

A domesticated cat lives twice as long as a feral cat due to less exposure to dangers and hazards.

feral cat
Feral cats live wildly. They are the opposite of domestic cats. They live twice shorter as domestic cats due to the hazards they encounter living outside. (Photo credit: Carolina_BCN on / CC BY-NC-SA)

Facts about Cats’ Behavior

10. What time of the day cats are most active?

In the wild, cats are instinctively active at night (from dusk to dawn), allocating daytime for sleeping and accumulating energy for nighttime activities. That behavior is connected to hunting. Rats, mice, and other small mammals are usually more active at night. Even though the domestication of a cat turned it into a day-active animal, by instinct cats are nocturnal animals.


11. Why do cats like catnip?

The catnip (nepeta cataria), also known as catmint, produces a distinctive smell through the oil (nepetalactone) in its leaves which sends cats into a relaxed state of euphoria.

cat eating catnip
Cats love catnip (also known as catmint). The oil produced in the catnip leaves sends cats into a euphoric state of relaxation.


12. Why do cats climb down trees backward?

As clumsy and slow as it may look, the safest way for a cat to descend the tree is to do it backward due to the position of its claws. Because the cat’s claws are curled forward, when the cat descends backward it can maintain a secure hold of the tree and reach the ground safely.


13. How long do cats sleep on average during a day?

Cats are predominantly nocturnal animals and it’s natural for them to sleep long hours during the day in order to restore their energy after a night full of hunting for the pray. A cat spends an average of 17 hours a day sleeping.


14. Why do cats scent-mark?

Cats like to scent-mark the various objects and even people to communicate with other cats and different animals their ownership of a territory.

cat marking territority
Cats use their whole body to mark the perceived possession of their territory. Scratching an object (for example the furniture) is also an act of marking their territory.


15. Which part of the body does a cat use for scent-marking?

To scent mark their perceived territory cats can use almost all parts of their body, especially the head, flanks, paws, and scent glands, especially in the anal area.


16. Is it normal for cats to lick each other?

Yes, cats licking each other is known as ‘allogrooming’. To mutually groom is normal behavior that stems from litter mothers licking their kittens. Mutual grooming can occur between adult cats where there is trust and confidence between them.


17. Is it normal for cats to eat grass?

It’s perfectly normal and healthy for cats to nibble on grass. Grass helps cats regurgitate ingested fur (which they accumulated during grooming).

cat eating grass
Cats like to eat grass because it helps them regurgitate ingested fur and keeps them healthy.

Facts about Cats’ Physiology

18. Why do cats have whiskers?

Facial whiskers act for cats as sensory extensions. They help cats sense the movement and temperature changes. They help to detect prey and to find their way around in the dark.

cat whiskers
Cat whiskers act as sensory extensions. They help cats sense the movement and temperature changes. (Photo credit: Rich Renomeron on / CC BY-NC-ND)


19. Can cats see more than humans?

Cats have the same binary vision like humans. However, because the cat’s eyes are placed more widely on its face, the cat has a larger field of vision than a human. While the human’s vision covers roughly 210 degrees, the cat’s vision covers 285 degrees.


20. Why do cats’ eyes shine in the dark?

An effect of the shiny cat eyes in the dark is really a reflection of light. Cat’s eyes can reflect light in the dark thanks to a layer of reflective cells immediately behind the retina, known as the tapetum.


21. Can cats swim?

Cats hate water and avoid it like a plague. The only cat breed that likes water, and even swims, is the Turkish Van.

cat facts turkish van a cat who likes water
Turkish Van – cat breed that likes water and swimming.


22. Why is a cat’s tongue rough to the touch?

The cat’s tongue has a rough texture because it’s covered with many tiny, hooked ‘papillae’. Their task is to enable the cat to clean off any flesh from the bones of prey as well as to enhance grooming.

cat's tongue
Cat’s tongue is covered with many tiny, hooked ‘papillae’. It gives it a rough texture which helps with eating and grooming. (Photo credit: Ma1974 on / CC BY-NC-SA)


23. What makes cats so balanced and fast?

Cat has more vertebrae in its backbone than humans and the tail creates an extended backbone structure making it the fastest and the most balanced animal on earth.


Facts about Cats’ Look

24. What is a ‘tortoiseshell’ cat?

A ‘tortoiseshell’ cat is a cat that has a mottled coat of red (ginger) and black. Tortoiseshell-patterned cats are almost always females, as this type of coloration is linked to the lack of an X chromosome.

a tortoiseshell cat
An example of a tortoiseshell (tortie) cat. Tortoiseshell-patterned cats have a mottled coat of black and red and are almost always females.


25. Why do some cats have a saggy underbelly?

The saggy underbelly in some cats is caused by being fed with entirely dried food. Once this appearance has developed the cat will show the saggy underbelly look for the rest of its life.

cat with a soggy underbelly eating dry food
Some cats have a distinctive saggy underbelly. That condition is caused by feeding cats solely with dry food. This look will stay until the end of the cat’s life. (Photo credit: frankieleon on Visualhunt / CC BY)


26. Are white cats with blue eyes more prone to deafness?

White-haired cats have a recessive gene that leads to inherited deafness (not always). Scientists suggest that deafness in white-haired cats (long and short-haired) is indicated by those with blue or odd-colored eyes.

white cat with odd-colored eyes
White cats with blue or odd-colored yeas have recessive gen which makes them prone to deafness.


27. What is a ‘cobby-shaped’ cat?

A ‘cobby-shaped’ cat refers to cats that are short and small-bodied. It’s usually associated with the British short-hair cat.

british shorthair cat
An example of a British shorthair cat. They are short and small-bodied, which is referred to as the ‘cobby-shaped’ type of cat body. (Photo credit: Kerri Lee Smith on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA)

Facts about Cats’ Fertility

28. When do cats become fertile?

Young male cats become fertile at about 6 months of age, whereas young female cats become fertile at between 5 and 7 months of age.


29. How long does a cat pregnancy last?

The gestation in cats lasts for around 65 days. Birth can occur anywhere between 60 and 70 days, depending on the breed and the individual cat.

pregnant cat
An example of a pregnant cat. Cat’s pregnancy lasts for around 65 days. (Photo credit: megatick on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC)


30. How many kittens can a cat give birth to in a year?

A mature female cat can have up to three litters of kittens in a year. That means that she can produce up to about 18 kittens in that period.


31. How many kittens are in the litter?

On average there are 6 kittens in the litter.

cat litter
On average there are 6 kittens in the litter. A mature female cat can have up to three litters of kittens in a year. (Photo credit: roxeteer on VisualHunt / CC BY-ND)


32. How many litters can a cat have during its lifetime?

There is no feline equivalent to human menopause, therefore female cats can produce litter throughout their lifetime.  However, the more births the cat gives the more strained its organism becomes and exposes the cat to various health conditions. The ideal number of litters would be no more than one or two litters per year during a period of five to seven years.


33. For how long does the cat mother care for her kittens?

A litter mother with a strong maternal instinct will care for her kittens throughout the 9 or 10 weeks of their early life, usually until her milk begins to dry up.


Facts about Cats and Human Culture

34. Does a black cat bring bad luck or good luck?

In the USA, a black cat is associated with bad luck, conversely, in the UK, a black cat is associated with good luck. The superstitions around cats are related to religious ideology.

black cat and witch
For centuries, cats have been associated with mystery and devilish forces. In the USA, a black cat is associated with bad luck. However, in the UK, a black cat is believed to bring good luck. (Photo credit: Internet Archive Book Images on / No known copyright restrictions)


35. Who are the famous people who loved cats?

The adoration of cats started in ancient Egypt and has lasted for centuries up until today. Some of the famous people who have adored cats include Honoré de Balzac, Brigitte Bardot, Charles Baudelaire, Catherine the Great, Bill Clinton, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, Thomas Hardy, Ernest Hemingway, Victor Hugo, John Lennon, Lenin, Abraham Lincoln, Freddie Mercury, Montaigne, Florence Nightingale, Pablo Picasso, Edgar Alan Poe, Theodore Roosevelt, Torquato Tasso, Mark Twain, William Wordsworth.


Sources used in this article:

Cats 500 Questions Answered, Dr David Sands, 2005


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