127+ Cat facts – or Facts About Cats To Make You The Smartest Person In The Room

The truth about cat facts is far stranger than fiction. Get more facts about cats than you can shake a tail at!
Cat Facts

I’d been pouring over hundreds of articles about cat facts and cat trivia. The more I read, the more irritated I became by the consistently contradictory info. So, I went on the hunt for actual facts about cats that have been thoroughly researched and verifiably recorded.

Cats are fascinating animals. More often than not, the truth about them is far stranger than any fiction could ever be. Our stereotypes surrounding cats often cause us to overlook the truth about the unique creatures they are. I wanted to go beyond the oft-repeated, the expected, or the usual. So, I dug deep.

Proof Positive

As a researcher, I value information that is factual, provable, and verifiable. I committed to undertake an ongoing quest, tracking down true cat facts, verifiable cat information, and well-documented cat trivia. Then, with each cat fact found, I would immediately begin scavenging for who tested it or tried it, said it or saw it, published it, or practiced it.

I am pretty relentless when I am on a mission, so I spent weeks compiling this list. I trust that in the list below, you will find a wide variety of cat facts that will be new to you. Or you may discover facts about cats offered in more detail than you’ve read in the past. Even I am surprised by all I’ve learned compiling this list!

Keep checking back because as I uncover new, fun, interesting, and little-known cat facts, I will update this article with all I discover about our fascinating feline friends and family.

Table of Contents

Cat facts about Cat behavior and Cat psychology
Cat facts about Cat health and Cat wellness
Cat facts about Cat history and Cat evolution
Cat facts about Cat communication and Cat sounds
Cat facts about Cat traits, Cat genetics, and Cat anatomy
Odd, weird, bizarre, and random Cat Facts and Cat Trivia
Cat facts about World Record Holders

Cat facts about Cat behavior and Cat psychology

Cat with grooming tool
  • Cats spend an average of five hours a day grooming themselves… so you don’t have to.
  • Cats love to climb to high places; their instincts cause them to survey the surrounding area for both their prey and their predators. So whether in a tall tree on the savannah or on a high bookshelf in your living room, your cat is doing what comes naturally.
  • Cats have evolved from ancestors who were primarily solitary living and lone hunters. This makes them unlike dogs, who historically have been animals traveling and hunting in communal packs. This explains why, over the centuries, as both species spent more time with humans, dogs came to accept humans as a part of their shared pack; while, in contrast, cats hang out with us when they feel like it and ditch us when they don’t.
  • Cats purr constantly, and a good thing, too. The sound frequency of cat purring has been measured at 25-150 Hz. This measured amount is scientifically recognized to promote muscle healing and tissue regeneration. This may mean that your afternoon nap with your kitty might just be healing both of you! (For more on Cat Sounds and Cat Communication, check out our in-depth article.)
  • Wonder why a cat rubs its cheeks and whiskers on you? They are deliberately marking you with their scent. So yes, next time Kitty does this to you, consider it an overt sign of affection. Your cat is essentially claiming you for their very own.
  • The domesticated house cat shares numerous behaviors with their jungle brethren. Some of the most obvious behaviors shared with their big cat cousins include chinning, prey play, scent marking by scratching, urine marking, prey stalking, and pouncing.
  • Cats have an extra organ allowing them to taste scents on the air.
  • Cats are quiet and stealthy as the thick, soft pads on their paws allow them to sneak up on both their prey and on you.

  • A camel, a giraffe, and a catwalk into a bar…… exactly! Like camels and giraffes, cats walk by moving both of their right feet first, then moving both of their left feet. No other animals walk this way. This pertains to all cats, from lions to your adorable pet kitty.
  • Cats use a “stalk, pounce, kill, eat” strategy, an instinctual behavior. Since their prey was often small, lizards, rats, birds, mice, snakes, etc., cats needed to feed multiple times a day. Such is why cats use a similar “stalk, pounce, kill, eat” like-strategy when they play with small toys. It is also why they prefer to eat several smalls meals each day. A suggestion, remember these facts at feeding time, and instead of simply putting your cat’s food in a bowl and walking away – make it a ‘game of instinct.’ Give your kitty a chance to stalk their food, toss it in the air, pounce on it.  And let them reproduce the whole sequence of events they’d engage in if they were out hunting in the wild. Let them express the true depth of who they are. They’ll be happier!
  • Cats are very uncomfortable with stroking near or around their tails.
  • Speaking of back ends, kittens are born with the instinct to cover their feces. This begins as soon as they have the physical ability to do so.

More poop info –

Cat hiding in litter box
  • Wild cats cover their feces to avoid attracting the attention of predators.
  • In communities of feral cats, dominant cats will not cover their feces. They use their exposed feces to assert their control. It is the mark of their “ownership” of the territory.
  • Subordinate cats in the feral community will cover their feces to show their submission to the dominant cat.
  • Even in human households with multiple cats, the dominant cat will often leave feces uncovered, indicating who the boss cat is.

  • It is currently perceived that when cats cover their feces in the litterbox in a human-occupied home, it demonstrates submission to the human – aka, the two-legged boss cat.
  • Studies suggest that if a cat does not cover their feces in the litterbox of a human-occupied home, the cat is demonstrating to their human host that they do not recognize or respect the human’s authority over them. The exception to this is if a cat is ill or has a disability limiting its ability to engage in the covering behavior.

Cat facts about Cat health and Cat wellness

Cat sniffing stethoscope
  • Cat statistics reveal heart disease is the leading cause of death among felines.
  • Cat years vs. human years is not straightforward. The equation is as follows: The first year of a cat’s life equals approximately 15 human years. The second year of a cat’s life equals nine years. After the second year of a cat’s life, each additional year equals about four human years. Therefore a 5-year-old cat is approximately equivalent to a 36-year-old human.
  • Mixed breed cats tend to have a longer lifespan than purebred breeds. Scientists believe gene diversity helps better protect felines from various breed-related diseases.
  • Adult cats sleep an average of 15 hours per day. Kittens and older cats can average 20 sleeping hours a day. This translates to cats sleeping about 70% of their lives (nice work if you can get it!)

  • The average lifespan of a domesticated indoor cat is 15 years.
  • In contrast, the average lifespan of a feral cat is a wide margin of between 0-8 years.
  • Senior cats are defined as being over 11 years old.
  • Cat’s self-grooming has various health benefits: by redistributing their natural oils, it keeps their coats clean and smooth; it regulates body heat through the evaporation of saliva; stimulates circulation and eliminates allergens, parasites, and infections. It also acts as a “displacement” behavior by displacing the discomfort of other behaviors, i.e., anxiousness, embarrassment, or conflict meaning your cat may lick themselves to calm their disquieting feelings.
  • Cats are in “heat’ from 3-14 days, typically averaging around 7 days
  • Approximately 700 million feral cats live in the United States. Many shelters run trap-neuter-release programs to stem the population growth.
  • More than 860,000 cats are euthanized each year in the United States.
  • Overall, 64% of lost felines were successfully returned to their pet parents.

  • Each year 21,000 cats are used as subjects in the testing of pharmaceutical, make-up, and product testing.

Cat facts about Cat history and Cat evolution

Cat in front of ancient history display
  • The journal Science has stated, “All domestic cats descended from a Middle Eastern wildcat, Felis sylvestris, literally meaning “cat of the woods.”
  • Before domestication, cats’ relationships with humans were forged through mutual benefit. As humans settled into agriculturally anchored, non-nomadic societies, they farmed, harvested, and stored vast amounts of products attractive to mice and rats. Cats are natural rodent predators. So, when cats were around humans, the cats were afforded a steady rodent buffet. In turn, cats were a boon to the farmers’ ability to protect their harvested grain by limiting the mice and rat populations.
  • Cats were first domesticated in the Near East, in the area historically referred to as the Fertile Crescent.
  • Killing a cat in ancient Egypt was a crime punishable by death.
  • Scientists have uncovered a cat cemetery with 300,000 cat mummies in Beni-Hassan, Egypt. Mummification, an expensive process in ancient Egypt, gives us clues to the emotional and spiritual value the civilization placed on these felines.
  • In Ancient Rome, cats were viewed as a symbol of liberty.
  • In 1484, another Pope, Innocent Vlll, issued a papal order which stated, “the cat is the devil’s favorite animal and idol of all witches.” The issuance of this order resulted in a condemnation of death to all cat owners and their cats.

  • Speaking of Popes, as recently as 2014, Pope Francis touched off a controversy when he told a young girl, whose cat had recently passed away, that she would be reunited with God’s creatures in Paradise — except for cats, who end up in hell. (Thanks dude, feeling so much better now! Wtf!)
  • The Vikings are believed to have raised and ranched cats whose pelts they turned into clothing.
Unsinkable Sam
Unsinkable Sam
  • Have you heard of “Unsinkable Sam”? A black and white cat was found floating on a plank of wood following the sinking of the Bismarck in 1941. Nicknamed “Unsinkable Sam,” he was plucked from the water following the sinking. He served as a “ship cat” (a cat that keeps the rat population under control) on three more British ships throughout the war, including another ship that was also torpedoed and sunk during the war. Sam, once again, was rescued and survived. He became a favorite of the British people who were constantly entertained by the press’ ongoing reporting of Unsinkable Sam’s travails. After the war, Sam was honorably retired and lived for the remainder of his life at the Belfast Home for Retired Sailors.

  • Clearly, everything becomes political! In 2013 a cat ran for mayor of a city in Mexico.

Cat facts about Cat communication and Cat sounds

Meowing kitten
  • Cats purr whether or not humans are present. Purring is an early formed habit, first developing while suckling from its mother. (For more on Cat Sounds and Cat Communications, check out our in-depth review)

  • Cat purring has various purposes. Purring can express anxiety, pain, pleasure, duress, relaxation, comfort. Research indicates there may be far more reasons than we’ve yet realized.

  • Purring aids cats physically by promoting healing, increasing bone density, and improving muscle strength.

  • Short-haired cats tend to exhibit more vocal behaviors than long-haired cats.
  • Cat meowing, in contrast, is most often an expression of wanting something, attention, food, access to a location. But it can also simply be a greeting, especially if it begins upon your arrival home.

  • An older cat’s meowing may have very different meanings than a younger cat’s. It can be an expression of anxiety or distress because of failing senses or an indication of feelings or emotions about the limitations in their abilities to accomplish physical tasks no longer easily managed.

  • Rapid meowing is your cat’s way of saying, “Hey! I’m talking! Pay attention!” It could be about anything, but caution! If it is unusual for your cat to meow rapidly, then take note. It could be an overt expression of injury, illness, or distress.

  • The process by which cats produce their purring sound is complicated and not entirely understood. It involves the combination of muscles of the larynx and the diaphragm that are activated by bursts of nerve activity originating in the brain and occurring approximately 20 to 30 times each second. The mechanism uses both inhalations and exhalations. This accounts for the continuousness of purring.
  • Cat’s snarls and growls are typically expressions of fear, anger, or a threat in their territory. Best to step away and let them chill out for a bit. Usually, these sounds are accompanied by an aggressive or defensive posture, i.e., ears back, tail sharply twitching and swishing, arching back, and puffed-up fur.
  • Caterwaul is a word believed to have come from the German word “katerwaulen” which translates to “cry like a cat.” It is a loud, plaintive, and hauntingly wailing sound. It is most often attributed to an un-spayed female calling out for a mating companion.

Cat facts about Cat traits, Cat genetics, and Cat anatomy

Cat nose
  • Cats have unique patterns on their noses. In fact, the patterns are as varied and individual as a human fingerprint.
  • Kittenhood lasts from birth to the end of the first year.
  • Cats can run up to 30mph. They can run faster than the fastest living human, Usain Bolt, who runs at approximately 27mph.
  • Cats sweat through their paws.
  • Cats’ whiskers allow them to “feel” their world, measuring which small spaces they can fit through and into. A cat’s whiskers are generally about the same width as its body. (This is why you should never cut or trim their whiskers.)
  • Cats also have whiskers positioned on the backs of their front legs, as well as their faces.
  • Cat adoption statistics demonstrate that black cats and black kittens account for 31% of all cat adoptions. This could be attributable to the fact that there is a larger proportion of black felines in animal shelters because of the dominance of the black color genes. This more significant proportion of black cats in animal shelters is also thought to account for why black cats have higher euthanasia rates than cats of other colors.
  • Cats can move each of their ears independently.
  • Cats have incredibly flexible spines arching and straightening as they run, giving them an enormous stride. These same flexible spines provide excellent protection, enabling them to fall from great heights or leap long distances (six times their body length) while avoiding injury.

  • Orange tabby cats are the most popular colored cats for adoption.
  • Tuxedo cats have the lowest adoption rates.
  • Cats can become pregnant as young as four months of age.
  • A cat litter typically has 4-12 kittens, with a cat capable of having five litters a year. This equates to a potential for every un-spayed female cat to produce between 20-60 kittens a year.
  • Cats, as mentioned above, have approximately five solid kitten-bearing years, but since cats have no menopausal phase, they are technically capable of becoming pregnant throughout their entire lives. But usually, later life pregnancies result in smaller litters and a greater likelihood of life-threatening complications for the momma cat.
  • One unspayed female cat is capable of producing more than 420 kittens over the course of her lifetime.
  • Cat gestation periods last from 61- 72 days, with the most common being 63-67 days.
  • Cats have 230 bones, while humans only have 206.
  • Cats can rotate their ears 180 degrees.
  • Cats typically have 18 toes: five toes on each of their front paws and four toes on each back paw.
  • Cats use their long, agile tails to maintain balance when they’re strolling, stalking, balancing, jumping, or walking along thin ledges and narrow walls.

  • Cats are currently believed to be the only mammals who cannot taste sweets. This is believed to be a genetic mutation in a specific taster receptor.
  • Why do cats back down a tree trunk? If you look closely, you will see that cats’ claws all curve downward. This means they can’t climb down trees head-first. This forces them to have to back down the trunk.

  • Cats’ collarbones do not connect to their other skeletal bones. Their shoulder bones are buried in their shoulder muscles.

Odd, Weird, Bizarre and Random Cat Facts and Cat Trivia

Cat with startled expression
  • In case you were wondering (and I know you were), the medically technical term for a hairball is a “bezoar.”
  • Black cats can be viewed as a harbinger of evil or an omen of bad luck in the United States. Still, in other countries such as Japan, England, China, France, and Norse mythology, they are recognized as omens of good luck, a positive change of fortune, and protection from demons.
  • The correct name for a group of cats is a “clowder.”
  • Three out of every ten Americans have some form of allergy to cat fur.
  • A female feline at any time of her life may be referred to as a “molly.” If she is pregnant, currently has, or has had kittens, she can be referred to as a “queen.”  The mother of any cat is referred to as a “dam.”
  • A male cat is referred to as a “tom’ or a “tomcat” or, if he is neutered, he may be called a “gib.”
  • A group of kittens is referred to as a “kindle.”
  • Cats are capable of making approximately 100 different sounds. In comparison, dogs have about ten sounds in their repertoire.

  • Cats are deemed responsible for the extinction of 27 mammal species (That fact makes me very sad.)

  • Cats arrived in America in the early 1000’s. They were not house pets. Rather, cats were “employed” on Viking ships to contain the rodent population and protect the stored food goods.
  • Cats are incredibly sensitive to the slightest vibrations; according to research, they may be able to detect earthquake tremors 10 or 15 minutes before humans can.
  • Cats’ brains are biologically more similar to human brains than to the brains of dogs. Interestingly, both humans and cats have identical regions in their brains that are responsible for emotions.
  • 37% of men own a cat as compared to 33% of women…. Hmmm, does that mean there are more crazy cat gentlemen than crazy cat ladies?

  • The first known cat video, The Boxing Cats, was recorded in 1894 by Thomas A. Edison, and yes, of course, it’s on YouTube.
  • Two hundred feral cats per park call Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and each other Disney theme parks home! The tradition began back in 1955 when the cats started hanging out at Sleeping Beauty’s Castle during its construction. They are highly effective at keeping the non-Mickey and -Minnie rodent population under control. Now, an integral part of the workings of the park, they receive regular veterinary care and are treated like “staff.”
  • It is estimated that approximately 73 million cats in the US are unowned or feral.

Cat facts about World Record Holders

Cygnus with Guiness World Record tail length
Cygnus and his 17.58″ tail
  • The longest domestic cat tail on record, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is a Silver Maine Coon named “Cygnus,” whose tail measured 17.58 inches long.
  • The oldest pet cat was discovered in a 9,500-year-old grave on the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean. The grave belonged to the cat’s owner….. Um, I’m not so sure kitty was all that eager to begin hanging out in the afterlife.
  • The largest recorded cat litter came in at 19 kittens. Fifteen of those kittens survived.
  • The Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) recognizes 44 pedigree cat breeds.
  • The International Cat Association recognizes 71 defined cat breeds.
  • There are currently 88 million pet cats in the United States, making cats the most popular house pet in the country.
  • Istanbul, Turkey is known as The City of Cats. Nicknamed “Catstanbul,” the streets are lined with water and food bowls, where over 125,000 cats roam freely throughout the city.

  • The oldest cat to give birth was age 30. She had two kittens. In human years this would be equivalent to giving birth at age – ready for it?  136 years old!

  • Vermont is the state with the highest percentage of cat owners, 44.6%.
  • The District of Columbia has the lowest percentage of cat ownership, which stands at 16.4%.
  • According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the most recently recognized new cat breed is the “Selkirk rex.” They are also called “poodle cats” because of their curly, thick fur technically constitutes three separate layers of fur. As of 2013, “Selkirk rex” was officially noted to be a completely distinct genetic line, and it is now recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association and the International Cat Association.
  • On February 5th, 2016, in a single minute, “Didga” and her owner Robert Dollwet performed 24 separate tricks in Tweed Heads, New South Wales, Australia. This makes the Didga the cat who holds the world’s record for the most tricks performed by a cat in one minute.
  • The longest-lived cat on record was “Crème Puff,” from Austin, Texas. Crème Puff lived 38 years, and three days, this is the equivalent in human years to 168 years – oh, and three days.
  • The Guinness Book of World Records notes “Waffle,” the Warrior Cat, is the record holder for the longest horizontal distance jumped by a cat. The leap came in at 7 feet.

  • The shortest cat, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is “Lilieput,” who measures in at 5.25 inches tall, from the floor to her shoulders. She is a “munchkin cat,” this breed stands out as having very short legs created by a genetic mutation.
  • The largest (longest) cat, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is “Stewie” (aka Mymains Stewart Gilligan). He is a Maine Coon cat coming in at 48.5 inches long from ear tip to tail.
  • The tallest cat ever recorded, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is Arcturus Aldebaran Powers, who, standing on his hind legs, measures 19.05 inches tall.
  • The Guinness Book of World Records cites Sophie Smith, a female cat from Oceanside, California, as having the longest fur on a cat. Her fur measured in at 10.11 inches in length.

What to do next?

In the end, the most relevant cat facts are the ones relating directly to your own little puff-ball kitty, so check out our guide to Human Foods Cats Can Eat – Safely!

Cat thinking I'm exhausted