A lot of people wonder how cats got to this planet and I am left with only one answer. They were brought here by alien beings … and they are the aliens.We all know cats are a different kind of animal. Here are some interesting facts about cats of which you were likely unaware.

Cats are the only mammal known that does not taste sweetness.

A cat’s peripheral and night vision are superior to humans, but they are almost all nearsighted. And a cat’s eyes are the largest among all mammals when compared to the size of their head.

Would you like to be the next Olympic long jump champion? If you could jump like a cat, you could, since they can jump six-times their body length. A six-foot tall person who jumps like a cat would shatter the world record of 29 feet and a little over 4 inches by hitting 36 feet easily.

You ever notice a cat coming down a tree? No, they do not climb down headfirst because their claws all curve to the rear. They typically back down a tree using that good peripheral vision.

A cat’s skeleton has 24 more bones than does a human. And their collar bones? They don’t articulate with other bones; they are buried within the muscles of the shoulder.

Which paw is dominant on your kitty? In males, it’s usually the left and in females it is the right. But like in any diverse population, some are ambidextrous.

Cats have about twice the number of neurons in their cerebral cortex as do dogs. That part of the brain is located on the outer surface and is associated with higher level processes such as consciousness, thought, emotion, reasoning, language and memory.

Cats are the only large, crouching mammals. They walk more like camels and giraffes moving both legs on one side at a time. The way you see a lion stalk prey in Africa is the exact same way your kitty strides up into your lap.

Some cats can and do swim. One of the winning wildlife photos last year was of a pride of about a half-dozen cheetahs jumping into a rain-swollen river and paddling for their lives to get to where the prey had migrated. The photo shows chocolate brown water up to the base of their ears. They all made it.

The spicules on a cat’s tongue are very convenient when feeding on prey. What tissue they can’t chew off of a bone, they can lick off with their rough tongues.

Many people think of cats as nocturnal. Umm, somewhat. By definition though, they are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. That may be in part because they normally sleep in a range of 12 to 16 hours per day.

Why do cats purr and seemingly make motions as if kneading bread dough while on people? Both are thought to be expressions of contentment. It signifies they are safe, satiated, and in a stable environment, which is probably your belly when you lie on the sofa to watch the game.

Cats seem to really dislike the smell of citrus. Remember that the next time you peel an orange to eat, and you don’t want cats in your flower beds.

Male cats can father different kittens in the same litter. The reason is female cats release multiple eggs over the course of a few days when she is in heat. That can be part of the whole mating ruckus you may hear at night.

Powell is the public information officer for the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, which provides this column as a community service. For questions or concerns about animals you’d like to read about, email cpowell@vetmed.wsu.edu.

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