You know your cat best, but your feline friend has a lot more going for them than meets the eye. The more you learn about this sophisticated species, the better you can understand your cat’s behaviors and needs. Our Oliver Animal Hospital team has fascinating feline facts that will leave you saying, “Me-WOW.” 

#1: Some cats have extra toes

While most cats have five toes on their front paws and four toes on their back paws, polydactyl cats can have six—or more—toes on each paw. A genetic mutation causes polydactyly, which commonly affects a cat’s front paws, with the extra toes usually growing next to the dewclaw. Polydactyl cats can also have extra toes on their back paws. A cat’s extra toes do not pose a health risk, but you will have a few extra nails to trim. Because American author Ernest Hemingway had a deep affection for multi-toed cats, some people refer to polydactyl cats as Hemingway cats. According to the “Guinness World Records,” Jake, a polydactyl ginger tabby, holds the world record as being the cat with the most toes—28—having seven toes on each paw.

#2: Cats sleep around 70% of their lives

Cats sleep around 12 to 13 hours per day, and senior cats often snooze longer. Cats are most active between dusk and dawn (i.e., crepuscular), sleeping most during the day, and becoming active around twilight. In the wild, cats sleep during the day to conserve energy and hunt at night, and your domestic cat’s sleep schedule follows these instinctual patterns. 

#3: Cats can communicate with their ears

Your cat’s ears are a powerful communication tool, and you can gauge your cat’s mood according to their ear position. Your cat’s ear positions may include:

  • Ears forward —  When your cat is content or feeling playful, their ears face slightly forward. 
  • Ears straight up When your cat is on high alert, their ears stand straight up. 
  • Ears turned back When your cat is feeling irritated or overstimulated—signaling they may need some time alone—their ears turn back. If your cat’s ears turn back when you are petting them, your cat is telling you to stop immediately. 
  • Ears turned sideways or back  — When your cat is feeling nervous or anxious, their ears turn sideways or backward. 
  • Ears back and flat against head — When your cat is scared or feeling defensive, their ears lay flat against their head. 

#4: Cats can cool themselves down through grooming

We humans have many sweat glands, but the few sweat glands cats have are in specific hairless body areas. Sweating alone is not enough for a cat to lower their body temperature. Although cats do not sweat, they are capable of cooling themselves through grooming, which is why they may groom themselves more during the summer.

#5: Cats are good for your health

Pets are more than companions. Your cat provides you with major health benefits, including: 

  • Less stress — When you pet your cat, your cortisol levels may decrease, and your oxytocin (i.e., the feel-good hormone) levels may increase.
  • Increased heart health — Studies have shown that cat owners are less likely to have a fatal heart attack or stroke.
  • Lower blood pressure —Cats’ purring vibrations may lower humans’ blood pressure levels.
  • Fewer allergies — Children who grow up around pets are less likely to develop pet allergies or sensitivity to common allergen such as dust mites, ragweed, and grass. 

#6: Most cats are lactose intolerant

Many people believe cats need cow’s milk, but most cats are lactose intolerant. While cats are born with the lactase enzyme to break down lactose in their mother’s milk, the enzyme often dissipates as they age. Without lactase, cats have a difficult time digesting dairy products, such as milk and cheese, which can cause gastrointestinal upset and diarrhea. Despite their intolerance, most cats are drawn to dairy products’ smell and flavor, because they have an affinity for high-fat and high-protein foods. To prevent your cat from developing potential digestive problems, do not offer them treats with lactose. 

Now that you know some new fascinating feline facts, you likely believe your cat is more amazing than you had imagined. Your cat deserves the best possible life, and having them spayed or neutered is important to helping maintain their health. Studies report that cats who are fixed live longer lives than those who are not. Contact our Oliver Animal Hospital team to schedule your cat’s spay or neuter procedure, or their next wellness exam.