A meow massages the heart. ~ Stuart McMillan
The following cat facts have been selected because they are not commonly known, and while some of you out there may be familar with them (and a few more to boot) most of us, including this author, lived up to now without knowledge of them. Here they are in no particular order.
Fact # 1
A cat is more likely to survive a 32-story fall than a 6-story one
In this particular instance, cats are taking advantage of the laws of physics even though it is unlikey they ever studied them in any accredited university. The explanation is twofold and concerns the fact that cats are able to land on four legs because their sense of direction allows them to position their bodies upright when they are falling. Their legs absorb the shock of the fall because cats instinctively flex their legs upon impact. This prevents bone breakage. Secondly, cats slow down falls from higher altitudes by placing themselves in an umbrella position (like a parachute).
Fact # 2
Black cats are not a bad luck omen in all cultures
The belief that black cats bring bad luck has unfairly endured for centuries. Black cats are not an omen of ill-fortune in all cultures. The concept dates back to an association with witchcraft during the 16th century in Europe, albeit cats were honored and worshipped in ancient Egypt and to kill one was considered a capital crime. It was believed that many presumed witches had black cats as "familiars" and that witches themselves had the power to transform into black cats at will.
Some folklore associates the black cat with good luck. In Japan, the United Kingdom and Australia spotting a black cat is a good omen. In the English Midlands the belief in the magical power of black cats is so strong that they are often gifted to brides as blessings for a happy marriage. Geman folklore claims that a cat crossing your path from right to left is bad news but one that moves from left to right signals good things ahead.
Fact # 3
The inspiration for Nicola Tesla's inventions was his cat, Macak
According to the brilliant, Croatian/Serbian, eccentric inventor himself, Tesla's interest in electricity stemmed from an incident when he was three years old and the static electrical sparks emanating from his pet cat's fur inspired him to wonder about electricity. His beloved cat is the subject of a short story written to a Miss Pola Fotitch in 1939. This fascination led to, among other things, the invention of alternating current, which is the power behind the majority of homes on the planet today.
Fact # 4
Every domestic cat in the world shares a common ancestor
According to a genetic study, every domesticated cat in existence can be traced back to a group of only five African wildcats from the Middle East that lived around 8,000 BC.They are: the European wildcat, the Southern African wildcat, the Central Asian wildcat, Chinese Desert cat and the Near Eastern wildcat. Until the last decade, the earliest recorded evidence of these wildcats dated back to the 20th century B.C. In 2004, however, a 9,500 year-old burial site was discovered in Cyprus containing both human and cat remains, suggesting a much earlier link.
Fact # 5
Tabby gets its name from a fabric
The tabby cat is known for its distinctive coat marked by stripes, dots or swirling patterns and an 'M' mark on the forehead. Researchers believe that its name derives from the coat markings that very much resemble patterns of silk produced in a neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq, known as Attabiyah. Sometimes erroneously believed to be a breed, the tabby pattern is found both in many breeds of cat as well as the general mixed breed population.
Also distinguishing the tabby cat is the 'M' mark that is always found on the forehead. The most persstent myth concerning its presence refers to Mohammed, who had a beloved tabby named Muezza that he always stroked on the forehead. Once, it is said, he cut off the sleeve of his garment because the cat was sleeping on it and he didn't want to disturb him as he left to attend prayer.
Fact # 6
Disneyland releases more than 200 feral cats into the park every night to control the rodent population
No one ever sees these feral cats when they come to Disneyland for by day they are hidden away in special stations within the park's 85 public areas. Since 1995, park officials have released these cats into the empty park to feast on mice. Although originally neglected by staff, today these cats are well taken care of; they are spayed, neutered and well fed both by day and, of course, by night.
Fact # 7
Cats cannot taste sweetness
Even though in many ways a cat's sense of smell is similar to most other mammals, for some reason scientists do not fully understand, studies reveal that domesticated cats cannot taste carbohydrates and sweeteners. The Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia published research back in 2005 that indicated there was a mutation present in both domestic and wild cats that makes it impossible for them to perceive sweetness.
Fact # 8
A connection between the the Black Plague and the domestic house cat
During the Spanish Inquisition, somehow, perhaps through the witchcraft connection,cats became associated with the devil. The Catholic Church and Pope Innocent VIII specifically, condemned all cats as associates of Satan and thousands of them were burned. Ironically, this massacre caused an acceleration in the rat popualtion which in turn intensified the spread of the Black Plague across Europe.
Fact # 9
Cat poo used in world's rarest coffee
Believe it or not, the world's rarest coffee, Kopi Luwak, comes from Thailand and is made from the dung of a wildcat called luwak that consumes coffee berries. The beans are harvested, cleaned and roasted and a one-pound bag sells for about $500! Also known as Wild Civet Coffee, the roasting process occurs in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Fact # 10
Infant saved and nourished by a band of feral cats
In Argentina back in 2008, the police found a one-year-old boy in the city of Misiones. The child had been cared for by feral cats and would have perished without their interventon. The cats kept the child warm and fed him scraps of food after they found him abandoned by his homeless father. They were protective until the end and hissed and spat at the police when they approached the child.
Cats are fascinating creatures with a colorful past and a future that is loving and bright .