Wednesday 13 April 2011

Your Weekly Science Pill, Feline Edition

So I'm sitting here on the couch, watching Mork and Mindy, trying to type. Do you know what hinders typing? All four of yout kittens in your lap, and trying to attack your hands. I watched them for a while, let them play around me and fall asleep. Then their mother moved in too. Here's a few things you should know about common housecats.


-They have five toes on their front feet, and four on the back. The fifth on the front is believed to help with climbing, running, and probably napping somehow, since that's all cats do. Some cats are polydactyl - that means they have extra toes.

-Used in Egypt to protect crops from vermine, they were eventually (inevitably) worshipped, and were even mummified.

-Cats hear ultrasonic sound - the sound rodents use to communicate.

-The top speed of a cat is 48 KPH. That's why they're so hard to catch.

-Within seven years, a single female cat and her offspring can produce 480 000 kittens. A female cat can have a litter of up to nine kittens, with the possibility that all nine of them have different fathers. Yeah. Cats can do that.

-Tesla was inspired to research electricity after he was zapped by his pet cat, Macak, as a child.

-The collarbone of  a cat is not connected to any other bone, but instead is buried in muscle. This allows it to fit into small spaces. Its whiskers are used to gauge its ability to fit through gaps.

-Abe Lincon kept four cats in the White House (and Teddy Roosevelt had a badger. That's death metal levels of awesome).

-Without taurine, your cat would go blind.

-As if there wasn't enough reason to hate him, Adolf Hitler despised cats. Lincon and Robert E. Lee both adored them.

-The inventor of the cat flap door was Isaac Newton.

-Cats can't taste sweet things.

-An idling diesel engine is on the same frequency as a purring cat - about 28 purrs per second.

-Your cat brings you dead things not as a present, but as an attempt to teach you to hunt. Even the cat thinks you're pathetic.

Throughout human history, we have been as enchanted by cats as we have been by stars. In a way, they are more popular than anything else - religion, horses, dogs, furries. Then there are the "super creepy" people who are obsessed with Jesus and cats. These people never have children.

Despite being possibly the single worst pet in the world, cats still manage to worm their way into the human heart. They do nothing for us nowadays but bring you gross dead mice (or decapitated bush rats, thankyou Delilah) and walk on your laptop keyboard, yet we still adopt, feed, love, shelter and treasure these creatures. If there's anything that proves evolution, it's the cat.

In the world today, there are 41 species of felidae. This divides into two sub-families, the pantherinae - the big cats - and the felinae - the little ones. They first became associated with humans around 10 000 years ago.

Felidae originated in Asia, and spread via landbrigdes to most of the world. They are the most statistically successful solitary predator, and social cats like lions have a very complex social structure (similar to solitary cats, but far tighter. Whilst cats like the housecat are viewed as solitary, they are more like semi-social, when in any area there is a heirarchy).

The felid's closest relatives are civets, hyenas and the mongoose, with whom they share the suborder feliformia.

Whilst the wikipedia page on cats (where I am checking my information) suggests that cats are "purely carnivorous", this is not true. Our Queen (which, by the way, is a pubecent or post-pubecent female cat), Delilah, eats corn. Not just the yummy bits, either. She will eat the whole leftovers. I caught her eating butter tonight, so I took it off her and gave her my finished corn. It's currently a quarter of its original size. Cats (and dogs, for that matter) are mostly carnivorous, they do have some omnivorous characteristics (like eating grass for stomach issues, and our cats like to dig apple cores from the bin. They only eat the sour ones).

One of the most iconic ancient cats is the smilidon (which is Sarah's new nickname, since I call her sarahcat and she is also a walrus) - otherwise known as the "sabre-toothed tiger". They could be over a metre (nearly four feet) at the shoulder, and upwards of 280kg (620lbs).There was even one that was 1.22m high (48") and up to 455kg (1 000lbs) in weight. They are among the heaviest ever felids. Ho. Ly. Shit. Their closest living relitives are cougars (the non-Courtney Cox kind, although they do share a resemblance) and the siberian tiger (the big white ones).

Tigers are undoubtedly my favourite panthinerae. I don't know what it is about them, but I find my experiences with them to be the most touching moments of my life. They are extremely indangered, though, as are most felids.

I think that about does it for this edition of SCIENCE!. Everyone do a wikipedia tab-explosion of cats. It's one of those things that I get into doing too often (like that one time Shaun and I realised we know nothing about horses, so we went wiki-ing. That was just a whole world of crazy. there's an arguement over whether the term is "Arab" or "Arabian", and a white horse isn't a white horse, it's a grey horse, with a white coat. I think it having a white coat classifies it as the colour "white", you fuckheads.)

Now to try and extract myself from the kittens.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, Wikipedia is sometimes very silly and wrong. Cats are obligatory carnivores, hence the taurine being so important as it is found in the organs of animals, most especially the heart. Basically, unlike a dog, it is incredibly difficult, and I think cruel, to put a cat on a vegan diet. Dogs do okay, cats can die from it.

Also, if you haven't noticed, I'm going through all your posts, since I found you through Amy's Ultimate Goth Guide, and I found her through Sophistique Noire, it's a big blogetty circle!

Kitty Lovett; The Unadulterated Cat said...

My cats will eat anything. I had no food for them for two days, so they had to eat cereal and frozen corn.

They loved it.

Don't forget sary!


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