Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
My love of knowledge has been a guide in my life and has taken me far from the Idaho dairy farm on which I grew up. It’s one of the reasons why travel has always been so important to me — I’ve been to more than 80 countries, and my wife and I have taken our children to many as well.
Even when I’m not in motion, I like to keep learning. And it should come as no surprise that much of what interests me has to do with pets. While the human-animal bond has always been of special interest to me, the fact is that the quirkier bits of trivia appeal to the perpetual student in me — particularly when it comes to cats.
I love to surprise others, and I hope I catch you saying “I didn’t know that!” with these five crazy cat facts.
A cat’s tongue is magic. Well, not really. But it sure seems that way if you watch a slow-motion movie of a cat drinking water. A cat’s tongue breaks the surface of the water and returns to the mouth too quickly for the human eye to follow well, dragging a column of water up with it. The cat’s mouth then captures the water before gravity pulls it down. We know this because an engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology used one of the university’s specialized cameras to record the motion at 120 frames per second, then analyzed the result. The result was published in the prestigious journal Science in November 2010. MIT professor Roman Stocker told Wired magazine that this discovery could have implications when it comes to the design of robots.
Cats have more bones in a key part of their spine than people do. Cats have a combined 20 thoracic and lumbar vertebrae, compared with 17 in people. The number of bones in the mid-spine region accounts in part for the power and flexibility cats have when it comes to fast acceleration and leaping ability. Cats are capable of attaining speeds of more than 30 mph for very short distances — just a few yards — which is a perfect skill if you’re a stalk-and-pounce predator. And cats can jump several times their height, flying over fences to the disgust of many a cat-chasing dog. Their other anatomical oddity is a free-floating collarbone, which can enable a cat to fit through an opening the size of its whisker span. That is, unless he’s fat, which too many cats are these days.
Some calico cats are male. Yes, I still hear people saying that all calico cats are female, along with tortoiseshell and related “dilute” versions (gray instead of black fur, and shades of yellow instead of bright orangey-red). If you were to make a bet that a calico is female, you would probably win, but there's no guarantee: Approximately one calico in 3,000 is male, thanks to a genetic oddity known as “Klinefelter syndrome,” in which an animal has X and Y chromosomes, making it a male, but also has an extra X chromosome (which allows for the expression of the calico coat pattern). By the way, betting that an orange tabby is male isn’t as good a bet, for reasons I have previously explained.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank you for subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
A litter of four endangered clouded
leopard cubs is getting round-the-clock
care at a zoo in Washington.
Summer's finally here! And these
adorable cats and dogs want you to make
the most of these long, sunny days.
Want to teach your dog to standup
paddleboard? We’ve got the training
steps and safety tips you need to know.
If you find a turtle in the street, do you
know the best way to pick it up? Or how
to tell if it’s a snapping…
Your pet’s health could be at risk if you
believe these misconceptions, like “home
remedies” that are actually…
Greyhounds don't always need to be on the go. These speedsters can also be champion sofa-loungers.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.