Feline facts to purr over

Shelters often are the first stop for people who want to become pet parents. The ASPCA says around 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters each year, and 3.2 million of them are cats. Although shelters do their best to get these animals into new, loving homes, the Humane Society of the United States says roughly three million cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters each year. Sadly, 80 percent of those animals are healthy, treatable and adoptable.

Learning what makes cats tick and their particular needs can help prospective pet parents decide if cats are right for them. It also helps to identify feline behaviors that can be problematic or may require correction when cats come into a home.

The following are some facts about cats, courtesy of MSN, Fact Retriever and Purina food company.

• Food-motivated cats likely will not be tempted by sweet treats. Stick to savory options. Unlike dogs, cats do not have taste receptors for sweet flavors.

• Lions may be kings of the jungle, but domesticated cats are kings among pets. They often beat out dogs as the most popular pet in North America.

• Cats are very good at hearing sounds and their eyesight is exceptional as well. Cats have 32 ear muscles that allow for “directional hearing.” Comparatively, humans only have six ear muscles. Cats also can rotate their ears 180 degrees.

• Developmentally speaking, the first year of a cat’s life is equal to the first 15 years of a human’s. After its second year, a cat is the equivalent of 25 in human years.

• Domesticated cats can spend about 70 percent of the day sleeping. Another 15 percent is spent grooming.

• Cats do not have nine lives. However, they have something called a “righting reflex.” The eyes and balance organs in the inner ear tell cats where they are in space so they can land on their feet. This is what helps them survive falls — some from more than 32 stories high.

• The meow sound is not something cats innately produce to interact with other cats. Rather, cats began to meow to communicate with humans.

• Spayed and neutered cats live longer than non-fixed cats, likely because they do not get lost or injured trying to mate.

• Declawing cats is illegal in at least 22 countries, but not the United States. Cats scratch at items, so they’ll need scratching posts and other outlets for this behavior.

• Cats will rub against people not only to be affectionate but also to mark out territory with scent glands around their faces.

• Cat litters can be between one and nine kittens, so it is important to neuter them to prevent overpopulation.

• Cats can often jump up to five times as high as their own heights.

• Even though cats have been depicted as drinking milk, dairy can give them an upset stomach and gas. Provide water instead.

• Research shows that cats know and recognize their names, but often they do not come when called. This is a dismissive move and not because cats do not recognize when they’re being called.

Cats make for fascinating pets and are loved by people for myriad reasons.

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