August 8th marks International Cat Day, a special 24 hours of celebration for our wonderful furry friends. Of course, any cat parent would quickly tell you that in a feline’s mind, every day is Cat Day! The notion was originally thought up by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) as a way for people to honour their pets and advocate cats. Many of us love the animals and enjoy having them in our lives; they are a source of companionship, comfort, and joy.
The IFAW has existed since 1969 and was founded in Canada. This animal rights group has projects in over 40 countries, with the goal of saving animals in need, including cats. Therefore, the day of celebration is also a day when people are encouraged to go to their local animal shelter and rescue a cat from being put down.
For many years, scientists have been trying to find out how exactly cats came to be pets and it seems as though the mystery may now have been solved, after a wildcat was found buried near a corpse in Cyprus, dating back approximately 9,500 years. This discovery suggests that humans may have had a relationship with cats for a great deal longer than was initially thought. Other scientists believe that cat ownership can be traced back to central China, around 5,500 years ago.
And now, in honour of International Cat Day, here are some facts about our feline friends:
- Cats are the most popular pet in the United States - there are 88 million pet cats and 74 million dogs
- Cats sleep for 70% of their lives
- Cats cannot taste sweetness
- Owning a cat can reduce a person’s risk of stroke and heart attack by a third
- A cat's purr may be a form of self-healing, as it can also be a sign of nervousness as well as contentment
- Adult cats mostly meow to communicate with humans
- A cat's brain is 90% similar to that of a human — more similar than to a dog's
- A cat's nose is ridged with a unique pattern, just like a human fingerprint
- The Egyptian Mau is the oldest breed of cat