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Sunday, 2 February 2014

Cat

CAT HISTORY

Sheep are mentioned in the Bible 45 times, dogs 14 times and goats 88 times but there isn’t a single reference to a cat.

The oldest known pet cat was found in a 9500-year-old grave in Cyprus, predating early Egyptian art depicting cats by thousands of years.

Legend says that the Manx cat lost its tail when Noah closed the door to the ark too soon.

The cat was proclaimed to be sacred in ancient Egypt. Thousands of cats were mummified after their deaths to ensure them eternal life.

The earliest authenticated record of the domestication of the cat in ancient Egypt dates from 1500 BC, although the cat was proclaimed to be sacred in that country about 1,000 years earlier. The actual domestication of cats probably came about when the Egyptians noticed that cats protected their granaries from rodents.

Today’s house cats are descended from wildcats in Africa and Europe.


The Egyptians worshipped a goddess with a cat's head called "Bast" who they believed was the mother of all cats on Earth. Bast became one of the most sacred of all figures of worship.

The Greek historian Herodotus remarked that when a fire broke out in an Egyptian household, people would be more concerned about saving the cats than putting out the fire.

In ancient Egypt, the entire family would shave their eyebrows off as a sign of mourning when the family cat died.

After a cat's death in ancient Egypt, its body was mummified and buried in a special cemetery. One cemetery found in the 1800s contained the preserved bodies of more than 300,000 cats.

The penalty for killing a cat, 4,000 years ago in Egypt, was death.

Cats were valued in other parts of the world for their rat-catching prowess in ancient times. They were taken by the Greeks and Romans to most parts of Europe. Domestic cats were also found in India, China, and Japan where they were prized as pets as well as rodent catchers.

In the 9th century, King Henry I of Saxony decreed that the fine for killing a cat should be sixty bushels of corn

The first record of domestic cats in Britain dates to AD 936, when a law was passed in Wales for their protection.

In Europe during the Middle Ages, the cat became an object of superstitions and was associated with evil. It was believed to be endowed with powers of black magic--an associate of witches and perhaps the embodiment of the devil. Persons who kept cats were suspected of wickedness and were often put to death along with their cats. Cats were hunted, tortured, and sacrificed.

 "Cat-burning" was an accepted practice thought to bring good luck in medieval times. It was custom to burn a barrel full of live cats over a bonfire as people shrieked with laughter while they were singed and roasted. French kings often witnessed it and even ceremoniously started the fire.

When the Black Death swept across England one theory was that cats caused the plague. Thousands were slaughtered. Ironically, those that kept their cats were less affected, because they kept their houses clear of the real culprits, rats.

In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII issued a Papal Bull calling for the burning of all witches and their cats at the stake.

The bounty on the head of a wild cat was fixed by Elizabeth I at a penny. But such was the hatred towards them for the harm they did to cattle that church wardens tended to pay more.

Some of the superstitions that arose during the period of cat persecution are still evident today in the form of such sayings as "A black cat crossing your path brings bad luck."

Cats were so precious in Japan that until 1602 they were kept on leads. Then the emperor ordered that they could be released so that they could kill the vermin that were threatening the silk crop.

Francesco Morosini, Doge of Venice in the late 1600s, wouldn't engage in naval combat without his cat beside him.

Abraham Lincoln was the first cat owner to ever become president. According to his wife Mary, Abraham Lincoln’s hobby was cats.

The first cat show took place at Crystal Palace in 1871.

In the 1870s, a Belgian village attempted to train a fleet of 37 official mail cats to deliver letters.
It didn’t work.

Most pet Burmese cats descend from a female cat, Wong Mau, who was brought to the USA in 1930.



In 1949 a British warship, the HMS Amethyst fought for survival after it is bombarded and then trapped by Chinese communists on the Yangtse river. One of the crew, able Seacat Simon becomes the first feline to receive the Dickin Medal (the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross) for keeping rats away from the ship’s provisions, despite being wounded.

The first cat in space was a black and white French moggy called Félicette on October 18, 1963,  It was a non-orbital flight, and lasted fifteen minutes, reaching a height of 97 miles. She survived the trip.

Félicette en 1963. By Eilemaa - Wikipedia

CAT RECORDS

In 1952 17-year-old Bonham, Texas, cat named Dusty set a Guinness record by giving birth to her 420th kitten.

On August 7, 1970 a Burmese/Siamese cat belonging to V. Gane from Oxfordshire, United Kingdom gave birth to 19 kittens, breaking the record for the largest litter of domestic cats.

The cat that holds the world record for amount of mice killed is Towser (1963-1987) who lived in the still house, Glenturret Distillery in Scotland for almost 24 years. She caught 28,899 mice in her lifetime. Her life and exploits are commemorated by a bronze statue at the 'Famous Grouse Experience' visitor centre on the Glenturret site.

Creme Puff (August 3, 1967 – August 6, 2005) was a female cat who died at the age of 38 years and 3 days. She was the oldest cat ever recorded.

Creme Puff Wikipedia Commons

Creme Puff lived with her owner, Jake Perry, in Austin, Texas. Perry also owned Granpa, who died in 1998, aged 34. Both cats lived off a diet of bacon, eggs, broccoli and coffee.


History's fattest cat died at age 10 years and four months in Cairns, Australia on March 12, 1986. The neutered male house cat named Himmy was 38 inches long and weighed 46.8 pounds (21.3 kilograms) at his death. The owner Thomas Vyse had to transport Himmy in a wheelbarrow.


A 29-year-old ginger and white tomcat named Spike was crowned as Britain’s oldest cat in 1999. Owner Mo Elkington attributed Spike’s 203 equivalent human years to a diet laced daily with bits from the aloe vera plant.

The world’s longest domestic cat, a grey tabby Maine Coon called Stewie, from the American state of Nevada. Stewie was measured at 123 cm (48.5 in) on August 28, 2010 and died in 2013. He also held the record for the longest cat tail, at 41cm (16.5in).

The fastest domestic cat is the Egyptian Mau. Maus have been clocked running more than 30 mph.

The world’s largest known big cat is a 131 inches long (10ft 11in) liger called Hercules. He lives in a theme park in Miami called Jungle Island. Ligers are a cross between a male lion and a female tiger and can live for up to 24 years.

FAMOUS CATS

Foss owned by Edward Lear
Tom Kitten owned by The Kennedys
Gris Gris owned by Charles de Gaulle
Perruque owned by Cardinal Richelieu
Elvis owned by John Lennon
George Pushdragon owned by TS Eliot
Vashka owned by Nicholas I
Cat was the name of Holly Golightly's pet cat in the film Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Horace Walpole, the son of Britain’s first Prime Minister Robert Walpole, owned a cat called Selima, a tortoiseshell tabby who drowned in a goldfish bowl. This inspired his poem “Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat Drowned in a tub Of Gold Fishes.” (1748)

Socks (1989 – February 20, 2009) was the pet cat that lived with the Clintons in the White House. He was a stray who jumped into Bill and Hillary's daughter Chelsea's arms one day in 1991. After Clinton left office, Socks resided with his former secretary Betty Currie and her husband, owing to continuing conflicts with Clinton's dog Buddy.

Socks, photographed on the South Lawn of the White House

A cat named Stubbs was the mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska from 1997 until his death in 2017.

A homeless heroin addict, James Bowen, got clean with the help of a stray cat, Bob, whom he found injured in 2007. James wrote a best-selling book, and in 2016 a movie was released starring Bob as himself.

In 2011, an Italian black cat named Tommaso inherited about 10 million euros (£8.5m) when his owner, a reclusive widow, died in Rome aged 94.

In 2012 a cat named Orlando beat top investment bankers in a year long investment competition. The moggy made his choices by throwing his favorite mouse toy at a grid to select companies to invest in.

CAT ANATOMY

Cat urine glows under a black light.

Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds, while dogs only have about ten.

Cats can comfortably withstand high external temperatures ranging up to 126° F to 133° F before showing any signs that they are hot.  This is thought to be a remnant of the fact that they were once probably desert animals.

Cats do not have sweat glands.

A cat has 32 sets of muscles in each ear.

Most cats have five toes on each front paw, but only four toes on each back paw.

A domestic cat has eighteen claws: five on each of its front paws and four on each of its back paws.

Cats have a hidden claw, known as the dew claw, that flicks out like a knife when they climb.

Female cats tend to be right-pawed; tom cats tend to be left-pawed.

A cat can jump as much as seven times its height.

An adult cat can run about 12 mph, and can sprint up to 31 mph.

A cat's tongue is scratchy because it's lined with papillae-tiny elevated backwards hooks that help to hold prey in place.

Cats have fewer taste buds than humans and are the only mammals that can't taste sweetness.

Cats use their whiskers to gauge whether they can fit through an opening.


Outdoor cats tend to be farsighted, while most indoor cats are nearsighted.

Cats have a wider field of view than humans — about 200 degrees, compared with humans’ 180-degree view.

The nose pad of each cat has ridges in a unique pattern not unlike a person's fingerprints.


A cat's heart beats about twice as fast as a human heart.

The kidneys of cats are so efficient that they can drink seawater without any problem.

A cat's tail contains nearly 10% of all the bones in its body.

The cat skeleton contains more than 230 bones (a human has about 206), and the pelvis and shoulders loosely attach to the spine. This adds to their flexibility and allows them to fit through very small spaces.

The surface area of a cat, including all the fur, is roughly equivalent to the surface area of a Ping-Pong table.

CAT BEHAVIOR

Cats often clean themselves after you pet them because they hate the human smell.

Cats sleep 16 to 18 hours per day.

Don't be alarmed when cats narrow their eyes - it's actually a sign of friendship.

Cats show you that they trust you by holding eye contact and blinking slowly.

Domestic cats don't purr simply to show their happy, they may also be doing it for the good of their health. They purr at frequencies between 25 and 150 Hz, a range scientists have discovered can increase bone density and promote healing.

Adult cats don't actually meow at each other, just at people. Kittens meow to let their mother know they’re cold or hungry, but once they get a bit older, cats no longer meow to other cats.

Cats have a distinct temperature preference for their food, preferring food at around 38 °C which is similar to that of a fresh kill and routinely rejecting food presented cold (which would signal to the cat that the "prey" is long dead and therefore possibly toxic or decomposing).

FUN CAT FACTS

The most popular name for a male cat is Tiger.

A cat named Gros Minou fell 20 stories from a Montreal apartment building, landed on her feet, and survived.

Catnip can affect lions and tigers as well as house cats. It excites them because it contains a chemical that resembles an excretion of the dominant female's urine.

Neutering a cat extends its life span by two or three years.

The average cat food meal is the equivalent to about five mice.

The number of pet cats in the world is estimated to be around half a billion plus another 100 million wild cats.

The UK cat population is around eight million, with a pet cat or cats in 19 per cent of households.


Owning a cat reduces the chance of a heart attack by 30%.

The British Museum database contains 93 items relating to mummified cats in its collection.

The collective noun for a group of cats is a ‘clowder’ or a ‘glaring’. A 'clowder' is just an old version of 'clutter' and was coined by Joseph Strutt in 1801.

Predicting the future via the movement of cats is known as “Ailuromancy.”

Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc,  KSBY.com, The Observer, Daily Express

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