There’s plenty to know about cats and kittens besides how loud they purr. There are interesting facts about their lives, habits and history. Perhaps you already know that a group of cats is called a clowder and a group of kittens is called a kindle, but that’s just the beginning.
Cats are the No. 1 pet in the United States, ever since they took over from dogs back in 1987. They are so popular that Americans spend more every year on cat food than they do on baby food. With more than 100 recognized breeds of cats, there’s bound to be a kitty to suit just about anybody. Although mixed-breed cats are very common, purebreds such as the Bengal, the ragdoll and the Maine coon cat are also extremely popular, according to the International Cat Association.
Domestic cats are descendants of the African wildcat, an animal that is still around today. In ancient Egypt, cats were considered sacred and were often mummified and placed in tombs. Little mummified mice accompanied them, and a family that was mourning the loss of its cat would shave off the eyebrows of everybody in the family. The cat lost its revered status later, and in Europe during the Middle Ages, cats became associated with the devil. Many of them were burned as part of religious ceremonies, such as the annual Festival of St. John.
Kittens are completely helpless when they’re born. They are both blind and deaf, and wholly dependent on their mothers. After about a week to 10 days, their eyes open and they begin to get a fuzzy view of the world, though it takes a few more weeks for their eyes to focus properly. They aren’t able to hear until they’re about 2 weeks old, when their ears open up. Kittens manage pretty well by the time they’re 4 weeks old, and by the time they’re 6 weeks old they can do almost anything the big cats can do.
The normal lifespan of an indoor cat is ranges between 15 and 18 years, with about 16 being the average. Cats that are spayed or neutered tend to live about three years longer than those that aren’t. Cats that are allowed to roam freely outdoors typically have a lifespan of about 3 years or less because of hazards such as cars, disease and other animals.
Many foods that we humans enjoy can kill cats and kittens. This includes chocolate, raisins, onions, garlic, grapes and avocados. Kitties also must avoid coffee, alcohol, soda, and any kind of uncooked dough containing yeast. Surprisingly enough, cow’s milk is also bad for cats. Although it won’t kill them, milk can cause stomach upset and diarrhea in both cats and weaned kittens.