As a cat lover, you can never have too many random cat facts in your back pocket. At any moment, someone might ask you how many hours cats spend grooming themselves, or how fast they can run (it's way faster than you think). Whether you're prepping for a cat trivia night or just want to feed your own curiosity, we've got some seriously surprising and fun cat facts that'll tickle your whiskers.
1. A Group of Cats Is a Clowder
Groups of animals have some pretty quirky names, but did you know a group of cats is actually called a clowder? Some people say the term comes from the Middle English word "clotern," which means "to collect in heaps." That sounds about right, considering cats love to drape themselves over each other in a heap while they snooze. So next time you see three or more cats together, you'll know they're a cute clowder of cats (say that three times fast).
2. Cats Are Fast Runners
If you've ever seen your cat run after a laser pointer, you know they're fast creatures. But I bet you don't know the average housecat can reach speeds up to 30 miles per hour. That's not far from the Greyhound's maximum speed of 45 miles per hour.
3. They Can Swim, Too
Some cat breeds don't just tolerate water - they love it! The Turkish Van is known as the "swimming cat" because of their affinity for water, but there are several other breeds that love to play in the wet stuff.
4. Some Cats Have Extra Toes
Most cats are born with 18 toes, but some have a few extra. They're called polydactyl cats (poly meaning "many," and dactyl refers to "toes"). A lot of people know these six-toed kitties as Hemingway cats because Ernest Hemingway had several polydactyl cats.
If you take a trip to Ernest Hemingway's home, which is now a museum, you'll see 60+ polydactyl cats!
5. Some U.S. States Have State Cats
All U.S. states have special representative symbols, like a state food or flower, but three states love cats so much they even have their very own official state cats! These are Maine, Maryland, and Massachusetts. Maine's official cat is the Maine Coon, which is only fitting. Maryland settled on the calico as their state cat, and Massachusetts dubbed the tabby the "official cat of the commonwealth."
6. Cats Are Serious About Bath Time
It might seem like your cat spends most of their day grooming, and you're right. Experts say felines spend 30 to 50 percent of their day licking themselves. That's seven to 12 hours of bath time each day.
7. They Put the “Cat” in “Catwalk”
When cats walk, they only leave a single line of pawprints. It's because of a behavior called feline direct registering, where cats place their back feet directly in the prints left behind by their front paws. This is a survival instinct used in the wild to make their tracks less visible and keep their noise to a minimum while moving. Plus, it helps them scale narrow surfaces, just like a catwalk.
8. Cats Have a Keen Sense of Smell
We all know dogs live through their nose, but cats also have a very keen sense of smell. A cat's sense of smell is 14 times better than a human's. They detect scents with something called the Jacobsen's organ or vomeronasal organ, which is located on the roof of their mouths. So when your cat makes a funny grimace face at you after they smell something strange (another fun fact: that face is called the Flehman response), it's because they're sucking in air to that organ.
9. Your Cat’s Meows Are Just for You
Cats make numerous funny sounds to communicate with each other, but they don't meow at other cats. It's a sound they use only when communicating with humans to let you know they want something, like food, to be petted, or more food. Next time you hear your cat meow, know they're not calling for their feline housemate; it's all for you.
Cats also use their tail to communicate their mood.
10. Cats Are Not Nocturnal
Sure, cats sleep a lot during the day and race around the bedroom in the wee hours of the night, but they're not nocturnal. Cats are actually crepuscular. That means they're most active at dawn and dusk (hence the early morning zoomies).
Cat Lovers Unite
Bonus #11: If you're really into cats, you can start referring to yourself as an "ailurophile," which is another term for a cat lover. And why wouldn't you love cats? They're quirky, clever, and oh so cuddly. And now that you know a little more about your fascinating feline through these cat facts, you can have an even greater appreciation for them.