Today is International Cat Day, and so, it is a time to celebrate our feline friends.
Here are 5 of the most important facts to know about cats!
1. Cats very often don’t like other cats
Unlike dogs, who are most definitely pack animals in the wild, male cats tend to be solitary hunters, and while related female cats may work together to help each other rear their kittens, they tend to be picky about the company they keep. When sometimes humans force cats to live with one another in a small house tensions are common, and these often remain unnoticed by the co-habiting humans. If you observe the behavior of the cats in your home carefully, you can usually work out if they are happy together. If they ignore one another, hiss or maybe even lash out as one passes another, sleep in different places and generally keep a distance between each other, then they are not friends, and you shouldn’t try to force them to be. Common behavioral issues such as urinating in the home often relate to inter-cat feuds. There are a few very simple steps you can take to encourage cats to get along in a more relaxed way.
Do not feed cats right beside each other: place one cat’s bowl completely out of sight from the other’s.
Always supply one litter tray per cat, when possible, plus one extra, so that they can piddle in privacy
Design your house to be more “cat friendly”, with high up perching places and low down hidey holes
2. Cats don’t like it when their tummies are tickled
People often complain that their cats are happy to have their ears rubbed and their chins chucked, and even their flanks stroked, but when they roll over and expose their bellies, they get extremely cross if anyone tries to tickle them here. The reason for this is actually quite simple: if a cat gets along with another cat, then “allo-grooming” is an acceptable form of social bonding. This involves licking the other cat around the ares of the face, head and shoulders. The belly is not part of this process, so if a cat rolls over, you should be aware that belly-exposure is not an invitation to petting in this area. Admire from a distance, or you may risk having your hand bitten and scratched, unless you know that cat very well indeed.
3. A purring cat is not always the sign of a happy cat
Purring is a truly fascinating form of feline communication. While it’s true that cats do purr when they are relaxed and contented, they also purr when they are injured, hungry or in pain. It’s been said that cats purr when they have a friend, or when they need a friend. The purring sound has a frequency of around 26 Hertz, and the sound is believed to have a reassuring, calming, comforting effect, as well as promoting healing of injured or inflamed tissues.
4. When cats rub you with their head, they are doing the same as a dog peeing on you
Cats have scent glands located on top of their skulls: these produce pheromones that cats use to mark their territory. So when a cat rubs his head against your hand or even your leg, this is not some form of human worship or adoration: instead, the cat is marking you with their own distinct scent, to “claim” you. It isn’t dissimilar to that annoying visiting male dog who cocks his leg on furniture (or people) to mark them as his territory.
5. Cats may suffer from toothache, which makes them grumpy
The anatomy and physiology of cats is very different to those of dogs, and dental disease is a good example. While dogs often suffer from periodontal disease, causing halitosis and loose teeth, they are generally spared the actual pain of toothache, caused by the dental decay that’s common in humans. Cats, however, do indeed suffer from a form of dental decay, known as FORL, especially on their back, lower teeth. Affected cats can show obvious signs (such as growling while eating) but sometimes they just become quiet and grumpy. If your cat has become grumpy in recent months, you should ask your vet for a dental check up.
6. Lilies can kill cats
Kidney failure is actually common in cats, needing intensive veterinary treatment and often leading to the cat’s early death. Often the cause remains completely unknown, but exposure to lilies is one proven factor. The pollen, petals, leaves and stems of lilies contain a toxin which may cause serious kidney damage in cats. The typical sequence of events is for a cat to brush up against a lily, pick up a dusting of pollen on their coat, and then licking this off as they groom themselves. Alternatively, lilies may be placed above a cat’s bed, with the pollen actually drifting down on top of them. The simple rule of thumb for cat owners should be: never have cats and lilies in the same home at all.
Happy International Cat Day, everyone!