The Strand Veterinarian veterinary nurse, Jolene Causer, tells us about her love of cats.
I have always had a fascination with cats ever since I can remember.
Their mysterious looks make me think they know the answers to the universe. Some believe cats do not see a difference between us and themselves, we are just a bigger clumsier version of them — so they bring us presents, toys which are alive or dead, to help to teach us how to survive.
To me they are the most loving pet, as they give their whole heart unconditionally to the human they love. After all, they were treated like gods in Egypt for a very good reason.
In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.
As a vet nurse for over 20 years, I thought I would share a few fun cat facts:
Cats have great hearing and vision, but they have an even better sense of smell. It is 14 times better than a human’s, with cats having 200 million smell receptors. Cats are thought to have a better sense of smell than dogs due to a vomeronasal organ called a Jacobson’s organ. This is found in the roof of their mouth behind the front teeth, concentrating the scent, smell and taste — which helps them distinguish different pheromones.
Cats have a very interesting language which is a mixture of body language, scent signals and vocalisation.
Cats are the only animal that can make a sound while breathing in and out continuously, this is purring. They can also meow at the same time as they purr by folding the vocal folds, giving them a deeper noise than you would think possible. You often hear this when they are carrying prey in their mouth and wanting to let you know they have a present for you.
Cats release pheromones for different purposes: marking territory, signalling when they are on heat, when they are content and when they are scared amongst other things. When smelling the pheromones, they can identify different colonies, create familiarity, promote bonding, learn more about other cats and even self-soothe.
The frequency of cat purrs is between 25 and 150 Hz, which is the frequency at which muscle and bone repair themselves.
Because cats are solitary animals naturally, they do not use vocalisation to communicate with each other. So, cats have taught themselves to ‘meow’ just to communicate with their owners. They have done this by mimicking what they think we sound like. They have demanding urgent meows through to soft chirping.
Cats eating grass is a normal behaviour, the general understanding is that it helps to move food or hairballs through the digestive tract. It may also provide them with essential trace elements in their diet, so it is recommended that cats without access to grass outside are provided with a source indoors. ‘Cat grass’ is great for this.
The average cat can jump eight feet in a single bounce — nearly six times their body length.
A group of cats is called a clowder. A female is called a molly, or a queen, and a male is a tom.
Cats ears can rotate 180 degrees so they can hear what is going on around them. This helps with listening for their pray. They also use their ears to let other cats know how they are feeling.
Cats can only sweat through their paws. They are built to withstand high temperatures, being originally desert creatures. Cats cool down by staying in shade and grooming, releasing saliva on to their fur. The sweat from their paw pads is often stress-related but can also occur when overheated.
Cats are predominantly lefties.
Cats knead you when they feel safe in your presence, or when they are on their favourite blanket, leaving a pheromone behind. This is carried over from kittenhood, suckling their mother’s teats and kneading on either side to stimulate milk flow. Sometimes they even start drooling with the pleasure of a good knead.
Kittens are born deaf and blind. It takes about two weeks for their eyes and ears to open so they can see and hear.
A cat’s nose has ridges on it that are as unique as a human’s fingerprint.
Cats tell you that they love you in a variety of ways such as scenting you by rubbing their face on you and continue with their whole body ending with wrapping their tail around your leg. They will knead you then look at you, slowly close and then open their eyes (you can also tell your cat that you love them by doing the same thing).
Although cats are naturally solitary creatures, they are very adaptive to new environments and most are living in a multi-cat or a multi-pet household.