In case you haven’t noticed, cats are … everywhere. They’re all over social media, they’re the boss in millions of homes and they’re ingrained in cultures around the world. No wonder they have so much cattitude!
And despite this kitty ubiquity — this flood of fantastic felinity — cats are still rather mysterious and interesting. What’s true? What’s myth? Are we just lab rats caught up in a global cat-spiracy? Here we’ll explore a handful of the questions pawing at people’s curiosity.
1. Do Cats Have Nine Lives?
Not really. It’s just that life as a cat is so awesome, to them it feels like living nine at once. Or maybe the idea comes from this Old English proverb: “A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays and for the last three he stays.” In some countries, the belief is that cats have six or seven lives. The takeaway? If there’s an animal worthy of multiple lives, it’s the cat.
2. Why Do Cats Purr?
Sometimes cats purr to drown out the nauseating baby talk humans use during an otherwise enjoyable back scratch. And while we associate purring with contentment, experts have also found that cats will purr when stressed, such as at the vet or while recovering from injury. It’s been found that the sound frequencies of cats’ purrs can improve bone density and promote healing. That’s purr-ty amazing!
3. Do Cats Hate Water?
If you invested half as much time keeping your hair looking fabulous, you wouldn’t want to get it wet either. And really, wet fur is heavy and takes a long time to dry, which is not only uncomfortable, but can also slow a cat’s response to any threats.
Baths aside, a lot of cats are fascinated with running or dripping water and prefer to drink the rippling, burbling water of a fountain versus the still water in a bowl.
4. Why Do Cats Love Boxes?
Cats only pretend to love boxes because it endlessly frustrates their humans when they’re more interested in cardboard than the pricey toys and treats that were inside. Truth be told, it’s instinctual for cats to seek confined spaces. Boxes provide a sense of safety; plus, concealment is key for ambushing predators. Experiments have shown that cats can be drawn to the illusion of a square on the floor — so, not even a fully defined square, much less a box!
5. Why Do Cats Like Catnip?
When you’re a highly advanced species living among humans and dogs, you need something to take the edge off. Beyond that, researchers suggest cats evolved to crave catnip because it might help protect them from parasites. In testing, cats that rubbed themselves in a catnip-derived solution were less likely to be attacked by mosquitoes than cats that ignored the solution.
6. Do Cats Always Land on Their Feet?
Just about always, but it’s a trick of the eye: The planet Earth actually changes position in space to put itself underneath a cat’s paws. Oh, the real answer? To evade predators and reach the best hunting locations, cats developed superb climbing skills. Despite their extraordinary balance and coordination, falls can still happen — so they developed the “righting reflex” to help them fall as safely as possible. Cats 1, gravity 0.
7. How Does It Rain Cats and Dogs?
It doesn’t. But if it did, cats would land on their feet (see question six above). And dogs would land nose-first because of the rocks in their noggins. Just kidding, canine pals!
This age-old saying is interesting in that there’s no clear consensus on its origin. It might be that “cats and dogs” was simply a nonsensical way to describe a lot of rain.
8. Do Cats Only Meow at People?
Narcissistic much? But to be honest, that is essentially true. Kittens meow to get their mother’s attention, but past that stage of life, cats don’t really meow except to humans. Felines speak to each other through scents, body language and facial expressions, but once they realize those methods don’t work as well with people, they find meowing very effective.
9. Why Do Cats Bring You Dead Animals or, Um, “Gifts”?
If you had more fresh protein in your diet, maybe you could finally grow a healthy coat of fur and sleep more than eight hours a day. The more accepted explanation is that cats bring you dead animals because they consider you family. They’re presenting their catch in an effort to urge you to hunt on your own. Because again, you could clearly be taking better care of yourself.
10. Why Do Cats Rule the Internet?
That’s a trick question: Cats rule everything. The internet is just one facet of their global domination. Cute photos, funny memes, goofy videos. Heartwarming news stories that make you go “Aww!” We think we choose them, but they choose us. We’re sure we’re making the decisions, but there are furry forces at play — and we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Cats are revered for all that they are and renowned for everything they are not. We know a great deal about them, but when you look back into a cat’s eyes, there seems to be so much more hiding behind that slow, deliberate blink. Just keep asking questions and our feline overlords will let us understand it all when they decide we’re ready. Or maybe you could try bribing them with cat treats …