7 cat facts that surprised the bejesus out of me

Sometimes, no matter how thorough your research, certain details just slip through. Here are some cat facts that might come as a shock to you.

1. Cat breeds matter

“All I want is a cat. I don’t care things as trivial as breed!”

That was precisely my sentiment when I was looking up cat adoption ads online. It didn’t even cross my mind to ask the previous owner about it.

But as it turns out, your cat’s breed does play a part in their personality type. As such, choosing a cat breed that will complement you, your lifestyle, and your household is of some importance.

Image: Snapwire

For instance, if you already own a dog, you might consider adopting a more sociable cat that is likelier to get along with your canine child, such as a Birman or a Ragdoll.

And because I didn’t give two hoots about Mateo’s breed, I was mildly puzzled as to why he was so unusually active and friendly for a cat. I hadn’t anticipated the possibility that Mateo would turn out to be just as energetic as a dog.

It was a good few weeks of peers asking about his breed, me not being able to give an answer, and them playing guessing games, before I got in touch with a vet, who kindly informed me that he is a Turkish Angora.

2. Cats aren’t actually nocturnal

Image: Du’o’ng Nhân

I’m an exceptionally heavy sleeper, so I never had concerns over whether I’d lose much sleep from this. Nonetheless, it still does astonish me that they aren’t true nocturnals, especially since I grew up believing such.

If they aren’t nocturnal, what are they?

They’re crepuscular. I’m aware that it sounds like some sort of physical condition that no one would wish on their worst enemy, but it’s not. All it means is that they are most active during dusk and dawn.

Unfortunately, it also means that your cat might wake you up for food at an ungodly hour by method of screaming in your face.

There are ways to put a stop to this excruciatingly annoying behaviour. What I find works best is a combination of feeding Mateo as close to bedtime as possible, so his appetite remains satisfied through the night, and persistently ignoring his 5am screeches, which will prevent it from developing into a habit.

3. Not all cats respond to catnip

Catnip is commonly described as weed but for cats because its effects are similar to that of marijuana on humans.

Image: Dimitri Houtteman

Many pet blogs swear by catnip, so, intrigued by this supposedly sure-fire way to excite Mateo, I purchased a couple of catnip toys to test out for myself.

I ran along home and covered his play area in a light shower of catnip spray, eagerly awaiting the results. To my dismay, all I got out of him was a curious sniff into the air before nonchalantly trodding off to attend to more important cat business.

Only up to 70% of cats react to catnip.

I tried my luck with a few other highly-raved catnip toys before calling time of death on my venture.

After a brief period of disappointment, I realised that Mateo doesn’t even need catnip to act like a total whack job—he does it just fine on his own. I’m not complaining; less to spend my money on!

If your cat is unresponsive to catnip, but you still wish for them to experience its effects, don’t be afraid to remain determined as there are alternatives:

  • Silver Vine
  • Tatarian Honeysuckle
  • Valerian Root
  • Catmint

4. Cats can jump up to six times their own height

Image: Amine May

I’ve always had an inkling that cats were terrific jumpers, but I never foresaw having to fend Mateo off with one hand while cooking with the other.

He was but an innocent kitten when I adopted him. So thankfully, I enjoyed a couple months of cooking in peace before he grew into a cheeky adolescent and learned to jump onto the counter, ruining my life.

Image: Nick Karvounis

If you face this same issue, employing sticky tape, crinkled aluminium foil, or clicker training might help deter them from counter surfing.

Unfortunately, none of these techniques worked with The Mischievous Mateo™—he just ignored or outsmarted every single one—and because my patience runs thin pretty quick, I conceded defeat.

When training a cat, consistency is key.

I’d much rather spend the rest of my days maintaining a crumb-free counter and limiting my cooking sessions to an hour—just enough time to keep him in the bedroom without getting cranky. To each his own!

5. Cats don’t always land on their feet

Image: Flickr

Yet another far-fetched claim I’ve heard circulating for god knows how long, I had my reservations. Some write it off as simple physics, and I’m no physicist, but I doubt that the odds of cats landing on their feet every single time they fall is even as high as 90%.

One fine day, Mateo haphazardly fell on his back while attempting to climb onto me and that was all the evidence I needed to confirm my suspicions.

Luckily, Mateo wasn’t injured from the fall, but mildly traumatised, he’s been more careful and calculative with climbing ever since. A blessing in disguise.

6. Purring doesn’t always mean a happy cat

Image: Tatiana Аzatskaya

I was told by several cat owners that a purring cat is a happy cat. But as a newbie mum and resident overthinker, I naturally had to question the legitimacy of this claim—particularly because Mateo had already begun purring within the first hour of meeting me.

Cats are notoriously anxious creatures that require several days, or weeks even, to settle into a new home.

A more extensive look into this topic informed me that, just as humans laugh out of joy, nervousness, or discomfort, cats purr for a myriad of reasons. Apart from sheer happiness, it could imply that they’re hungry, anxious, or relieving pain from an injury.

7. Regurgitating is… normal?

I’m not suggesting you ignore regurgitation; it is true that it could derive from serious health concerns like dehydration or esophageal issues.

Image: Freestocks

But definitely hold off on making a hasty trip to the vet and consider all options. The root of the problem could be as inconsequential as them eating too fast, too slow, or in an awkward position.

Try adjusting their diet and regulating meal timings before getting worried over possibly nothing.

I found an elevated bowl from Kmart to be extremely helpful. It’s taller than your typical pet bowl, which allows your cat to enjoy meals more comfortably.