As the owner of two cats, I like to think I know a lot about them. I know what they like to eat, where they hide their toys, and how much trouble they can get into without really trying.
When I began writing "That Cat!" for my new "Word Families" series (Amicus Publishing, 2013), I found out how much I still had to learn about cats.
Writing a nonfiction book for children begins with research, so I pulled as many books as I could find from our library. I've included some of these books at the end of this post.
Here are just a few fascinating facts I discovered about cats:
- Cats have 244 bones; people only have 206 bones.
- Cats have 32 muscles in each ear; people have only six muscles in each ear.
- Cats can rotate each ears by itself, and can even turn their ears 180 degrees in opposite directions. Cat hearing is so sharp that they can tell the difference between one person's footsteps and another's, and even between the sounds of different cars. (So they really do know it's you when they come running to the door!)
- Cats walk on their toes: their heel bone is half-way up their leg.
- Cats have scent glands on their paws, their foreheads, under their chins, and where their tails meet their backs. That's why they like scratching and rubbing -- and being rubbed, so they can transfer some scent onto you!
- The sense of smell is very important to a cat. Cats even have an extra organ for smelling located inside their mouths, called the vomeronasal organ or Jacob's organ.
- Cat tongues are rough because they have tiny, backward-facing spines made of keratin, called papillae.
Cats use their whiskers as part of their sense of touch. Their whiskers help them sense the direction of wind and air currents, measure distances, and navigate.
Here are some of the books and resources on cats I used for these facts and more:
- The Complete Cat by Vicky Hall (2008, Bantam Press)
- The Secret Life of Your Cat by Vicky Hall (2010, Firefly Books)
- Why do Cats Have Whiskers? by Elizabeth McLeod (2008, Kids Can Press)
- Cat Care Essentials by Francesca Riccomini (2010, Hamlyn)
- The Cat Expert by Rebecca Watson (2010, Transworld Publishers)
- Pets 101: Cats, Animal Planet
Everyone loves watching cat videos, so just for fun, here are just a few of my favourites:
What habits and behaviours does your cat have that fascinate you? Please leave a comment -- or share a cat video!