Amazing Facts about our Furry Feline Friends
At Brudine Vets we absolutely love all creatures – furred, feathered and scaled. But todays blog is all about our wonderful feline companions and their interesting attributes.
Cats purr by vibrating the muscles of their voice-box (larynx) at a frequency of 25 to 150 times per second! There are multiple reasons a cat may purr. It could be because they are content or possibly as a means of self-soothing when they are stressed. Some cats produce a high frequency purr when they want something from their owners (a “soliciting” purr). The frequency at which cats purr is similar to frequencies that have been found to stimulate bone healing and growth, so there may even be health benefits to cats purring.
In addition to our small domesticated cats, some large cats can purr too such as cheetahs, panthers and cougars. There is debate over whether some large cats that roar (e.g. lions and tigers) can purr as well. This purr seems to only occur when large cats exhale, unlike the smaller cats that purr on both inhalation and exhalation. This is thought to be associated with differences in the small bones around the larynx (the hyoid bones) between species.
Cats’ whiskers are long, thick hairs most obvious around the nose but there are also smaller ones found above their eyes, near their ears and on their front legs. Whiskers are extremely sensitive due to dense nerve bundles around their base which provide feedback to the cat’s brain. Whiskers are important for detecting small changes in the environment including direct touch, air vibrations from nearby prey and even giving feedback about the position of the cat’s limbs (proprioception).
Like many animals, cats’ tongues have small papillae (bumps) on their surface, however cats’ papillae are shaped into hooks. These hooks act as a comb when a cat licks its fur during grooming. The papillae are even able to rotate in different directions to assist a cat to untangle a knot of fur! Scientists have found that all cats, except Persians, are able to use these papillae to “comb” their hair down to the level of the skin. This is why Persians need some help with daily brushing to stop their hair from matting.
It is no secret that cats spend a lot of their time sleeping. This is similar for both pet cats and large wild cats, with each spending between 12 and 20 hours a day sleeping! This sleep assists them to have enough energy for the high energy bursts required when hunting prey. Cats are still quite alert during their sleep and can very quickly wake in response to noises much more so than humans. This is a benefit in the wild for both catching prey and avoiding being the prey!
Dr Taryn’s cat (Calvin) having a restful nap
Although dogs may like to think of themselves as “man’s best friend”, we think with all these fantastic features cats would prefer the title of “man’s supervising manager” and we wouldn’t want them any other way!