Cats

A:

The idiomatic expression that cats have nine lives comes not from a literal reality in which cats have an arbitrarily limited immunity but rather from a myth that is likely related to the domestic cat's impressive agility. However, as a figurative way of describing feline dexterity, the nine lives myth conjures up vivid imagery, which may be why William Shakespeare referenced it in his famous tale of star-crossed lovers, "Romeo and Juliet." Overall, it is difficult to pin down an exact origin for this myth, including an explanation for the specific number nine, though it may have origins in Egyptian or Chinese belief systems that ascribe special significance to the number nine.

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  • Why do we say a cat has nine lives?

    Q: Why do we say a cat has nine lives?

    A: The idiomatic expression that cats have nine lives comes not from a literal reality in which cats have an arbitrarily limited immunity but rather from a myth that is likely related to the domestic cat's impressive agility. However, as a figurative way of describing feline dexterity, the nine lives myth conjures up vivid imagery, which may be why William Shakespeare referenced it in his famous tale of star-crossed lovers, "Romeo and Juliet." Overall, it is difficult to pin down an exact origin for this myth, including an explanation for the specific number nine, though it may have origins in Egyptian or Chinese belief systems that ascribe special significance to the number nine.
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  • How old do kittens have to be before they can have hard food?

    Q: How old do kittens have to be before they can have hard food?

    A: According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, kittens should start nibbling on dry food at about five to six weeks of age. They should begin dry food even if they are still nursing.
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  • What do you call a group of cats?

    Q: What do you call a group of cats?

    A: According to the Oxford English Dictionaries, the standard collective noun used to refer to a group of domestic cats is a 'clowder,' as in 'a clowder of house cats.' Other sources indicate that there may be other collective nouns that can be applied to cats, though these may be more colloquial in nature. Alternate collective nouns for a group of domestic cats include clutter, pounce, glare, nuisance, cluster and glaring.
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  • Where do cats come from?

    Q: Where do cats come from?

    A: The first domesticated cats appeared in human civilization thousands of years ago with the ancient Egyptians, who, according to reliable evidence, were the first people to keep cats around as a way of controlling rodents and other vermin that encroach on human food supplies. There may be some evidence that humans and cats have coexisted for some time before Ancient Egypt, particularly among early human societies in the Middle Eastern region known as the fertile crescent. It could be that cats invited themselves to be human pets, in a manner of speaking, having been attracted to the large quantities of prey that started gathering around the first human stores of grain.
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  • How big was the world's largest house cat?

    Q: How big was the world's largest house cat?

    A: The Guinness World Records association recognizes the largest cat alive based on the separate categories of length and height, meaning there can technically be two cats that qualify as the world's largest house cat, though both titles have at various times been held by a single cat. According to the Guinness World Records, as of 2013, the longest cat in the world was a Maine coon named Stewie, who clocked in at 48.5 inches long. As of 2011, the Guinness World Records holder of the world's tallest cat title is a Savannah cat named Trouble, who stands at 19 inches tall when measured from shoulder to toe.
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  • Why do cats meow?

    Q: Why do cats meow?

    A: As a kitten, a cat may meow because it needs to let its mother or owner know that it is hungry, and kittens also meow because they are cold or scared. For older cats, meowing is a form of communication.
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  • Will a cat without whiskers lose it's sense of balance?

    Q: Will a cat without whiskers lose it's sense of balance?

    A: Whiskers serve a variety of important sensory functions for cats, and a cat without whiskers will suffer from several adverse effects, including a sense of disorientation that can make it seem unbalanced. Feline whiskers are essential appendages that are connected to powerful nerves, making the whiskers extremely sensitive to touch. Cat owners should never trim their cat's whiskers, even if they appear to be overgrown or curly; these are not decorative hairs, and even a mild trim will have a strong impact on the cat's ability to sense their environment and move around in a safe and comfortable manner.
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  • How long have cats been domesticated?

    Q: How long have cats been domesticated?

    A: Cats have been a domesticated human companion since the reign of the Ancient Egyptians more than 4,000 years ago, according to National Geographic. While these ancient people may or may not have been the first to domesticate the cat, they were the first to show widespread evidence of human interactions with cats thanks to the wide variety of art and artifacts indicating this culture's reverence for the cat, including mummified cats that were prepared for the afterlife in much the same way as humans, as well as the presence of snacks in the form of mummified mice. However, because the archeological record is not necessarily reliable due to the physical similarity of domestic and wild cat skeletons, it is difficult to know exactly when cats were domesticated, with some estimates ranging as far back as 12,000 years ago.
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  • Can cats smile?

    Q: Can cats smile?

    A: Cats cannot smile. They do experience emotions, including happiness. Cats have several physical ways of expressing pleasure, such as high-pitched meowing, a vertically position to the tail, narrowed pupils and a low, trilling purr.
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  • Can cats be right handed or left handed?

    Q: Can cats be right handed or left handed?

    A: While cats don't write or perform other activities that might make it obvious whether they favor one paw or another, a team of psychological researchers from Northern Ireland's Queen's University Belfast suggest that a cat's gender may determine whether it is a righty or a lefty. According to this research, female cats tend to favor the use of their right paw, while male cats tend to use their left paw more often than their right. This preference may only become apparent when the cat in question is trying to accomplish an agile task with its paw, including using its paws to grab something it can't get at with its teeth.
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  • Why do cats have whiskers?

    Q: Why do cats have whiskers?

    A: A cat's whiskers contain sensitive nerves that allow the animal to judge distance and space effectively and to sense objects in the dark to avoid danger. By gently brushing the whiskers against an object, a cat gains an extra sense of what's nearby as a means of protection.
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  • Why are people suspicious of black cats?

    Q: Why are people suspicious of black cats?

    A: The superstition that black cats are somehow harbingers of bad luck or evil is related to European folklore that dates back to the Middle Ages, when genuine belief in witches and evil magic caused people to adopt some specific fears. Black cats were singled out due to their dark color and the idea that witches, human beings with magic powers, would often be accompanied by a black cat with supernatural abilities known as a familiar, or that witches were capable of changing physical forms to appear as animals such as black cats. Other folk legends that tied black cats to the occult and even to demons appeared in different parts of the world, including in the American South.
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  • How common are polydactyl cats?

    Q: How common are polydactyl cats?

    A: The exact frequency of polydactylism in cats may depend on the breed, with some domestic cat breeds, such as the Maine coon, boasting a greater occurrence of extra-toed cats than other breeds; overall, however, this is a relatively common condition, and it is totally harmless for the cat who is born with extra toes. The word 'polydactyl' means 'many toes,' and the term refers to the fact that polydactyl cats are born with more than the standard 18 toes. This is technically a genetic mutation, but it is not an issue or a burden in and of itself.
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  • Do cats prefer women?

    Q: Do cats prefer women?

    A: A study published in the scientific journal 'Behavioural Processes' in 2011 indicates that cats do indeed tend to have a preference for women. This favoritism may be because women tend to show more affection to cats, which influences the bond cats have with their human caretakers.
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  • What breed of cat is Grumpy Cat?

    Q: What breed of cat is Grumpy Cat?

    A: Grumpy Cat's breed is unknown. Her mother is a short-haired domestic calico. A male cat in Grumpy's house has gray and white stripes, but Grumpy's owners are unsure if that cat is Grumpy's father.
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  • What does it mean when a cat wags its tail?

    Q: What does it mean when a cat wags its tail?

    A: Although, there could be several reasons behind a cat wagging it's tail, one potential reason is If a cat is wagging its tail in a violent swishing motion this could mean that the cat is hunting and is about to pounce. Another possibility is if the cat is slowly wagging it's tail, it often means the cat is stressed.
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  • How fast can a cat run?

    Q: How fast can a cat run?

    A: While wild cats such as the famously fleet-footed cheetah can reach incredible speeds of 70 miles per hour, domestic cats can hold their own with speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.
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  • Why do cats hiss at people?

    Q: Why do cats hiss at people?

    A: Cats hiss at people and other animals, including cats, as a show of aggression. This generally occurs because a cat feels like it is cornered and has no means of escaping or the cat is provoked. Aggression can also be invoked by pain, punishment or fear.
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  • Why do cats wag their tails?

    Q: Why do cats wag their tails?

    A: Cats wag their tails to send messages to both humans and other animals. The positioning of the tail as well as the position of the ears and the cat's facial expression are all clues as to what the cat's tail wag or wave means.
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  • How closely related is a domestic cat to a lion?

    Q: How closely related is a domestic cat to a lion?

    A: Though they are different in many ways, including levels of hostility to humans and overall body size, domestic cats and wild cats such as tigers actually share about 95 percent of the same DNA, meaning the two types of animals are very closely related on a basic genetic level. According to a study published in the journal 'Nature Communications' in 2013, researchers sequenced the genomes of three big cats, tigers, lions and snow leopards, and found that, from a genetic point of view, these wild creatures actually have a lot in common with house cats. Specifically, it was the tiger that was found to be a close relative of the furry human pet, but the research published in 'Nature Communications' did provide new insight into the genetic makeup of critically endangered animals.
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  • How can owning a cat improve a person's health?

    Q: How can owning a cat improve a person's health?

    A: Pet ownership, and cat ownership specifically, has been proven to be beneficial to human health in a variety of ways, including general stress reduction and positive mood alteration in addition to more specific markers of improved health such as lower heart rate and blood pressure. Studies that have covered this topic note that the presence of a companion animal such as a cat has a marked positive impact on human mood. However, getting to the exact root of some of these supposed health benefits isn't easy; it is difficult to determine cause and effect in these situations.
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