Top 5 Cat Questions, Answered!

Question 1:  Why do cats purr?

We have an article on this on our Cat Life page, but as it is one of the most frequently asked questions about cats we’ll post a brief summary of the Why!  While it’s unclear as to the exact reason why cats purr, the research is ongoing and has been for decades.  Small domestic cats, along with smaller wild cats such as lynx, puma, bob cats, wild cats and cheetahs purr, but the larger cats like, leopards, lions and tigers do not have the true purr.  The purr is very unique and different from other sounds that cats make in that it is produced on the inhale and the exhale, occurring during the entire respiratory cycle.

It is a common thought, and many animal behaviorist agree, that the purr is a form of communication between 

a kitten and it’s mother to let the mother know that the kitten is ok, which is a plausible hypothesis in our opinion. While many people tend to think that a purring cat is a happy cat, this is not always the case. Cats do purr when they are happy, content and relaxed, but will also purr when they are sick, in pain, injured and sometimes even when they are at the end of life and moving on to the other side…

 It has also been discovered that the purr may actually be a process cats use to heal. Cats purr at a consistent pattern and frequency of between 25 and 150 Hertz. This vibration is curiously the same frequency that has been found to promote healing and improve bone density. So, if your cat is purring, perhaps he might be trying to self-heal.  It’s thought that purring is also used by cats to self-soothe and comfort them during times of stress and anxiety.

Question 2:  Making Biscuits. Why do cats knead?

Another behavior that is believed to begin in kittenhood!  Cats begin kneading when they are tiny newborn kittens. The kneading is used to encourage milk so the kitten can nurse and get her tummy filled. Needless to say, this is definitely a happy feeling! As cats get older, they continue this behavior and there are a few theories as to why cats knead. The most common theory as to why cats knead is that because the first kneading brought mothers milk to satisfy their hunger is that this satisfied feeling association from when they were kittens carries on with them through adulthood.  Your cat may knead on you, a favorite toy or a soft, fuzzy blanket and the behavior is usually accompanied by purring and a look of complete contentment and happiness!

Many times kneading is followed by a nap, and kneading is also thought to sometimes be a marking behavior, as well, since cats have scent glands in their paws.  There are also behaviorists that believe kneading is also used by in-tact female cats that are in their reproductive stage where they are ready to mate to let the ‘boy’s’ know they are ready.  All in all, it is agreed that the kneading behavior is one that occurs when a cat is happy, content and in a good place!

Question 3:  How long do cats live?

The average age of a cat has increased over the years due to medical advancements and the increasing knowledge that nutrition plays in a cats well being to around 15 years old. Keep in mind, though, that this can vary greatly depending on the health of the cat, the provision of a cats nutritional needs, preventative and maintenance care provided by the cat parent, and whether the cat is an indoor cat or is exposed to environmental factors of the outdoor life. Vaccinations and preventative care are of great importance if your cat spends time outside and it’s important to note that outdoor cats can have a much shorter lifespan due to injury, disease and environmental factors than that of an indoor cat. On the other side of that coin, while an indoor cat may face less threats from trauma and predators, many indoor cats are faced with the possibility of obesity, so diet and nutrition are equally important as vaccinations and preventative care for the indoor cat.

Obesity in cats is growing and becoming a serious concern as it has lead to a rise in diabetes and other serious health issues. To help both your indoor and outdoor cats lead healthy lives, it’s very important to not only keep up 

with well check vet visits, but also to be sure your cat has a quality high protein diet and plenty of water, either through wet food (best option) or an ample amount of clean, fresh water available at all times!  There are a good number of cats that are well taken care of through nutrition and health checks that can live to be 20+ years old.  This is not to say that if your cat doesn’t live past 15 or passes earlier that you’ve not taken care of them, as some cats can be predisposed to ailments, but a quality diet and regular vet checks with a trusted veterinarian can certainly help keep your cat in tip-top shape and live the best life possible!

Question 4:  Why do cats sleep so much?

Cats sleep an average of 16 to 18 hours per day.  Why, you ask?  The short answer is to conserve and replenish his energy. As a predator, cats are hardwired to hunt, chase and wander.  These activities consume a lot of energy, and to fuel this fierce predatory lifestyle, a cat must replenish the energy exerted during the hunt. While your cat may be an indoor cat that is fed regular meals each day, the drive to hunt is still quite active in your cat!  Those toys they go hard at, or the all too familiar ‘zoomies’ that happen throughout the day are your cat’s hunting activities that use up his stores of energy, creating the need to recharge by sleep.

Cats are naturally most active between dusk and dawn, which explains your cat’s behavior of lounging in sun 

much of the late morning and afternoon hours, and then spend their time in the early morning and evening hours running around the house like a mad cat! Just like your cat’s wild ancestors, your furry feline keeps this same schedule of hunt, feast, sleep even as an indoor cat that no longer ‘needs’ to hunt for his food. You may also notice that while you’re cat may look like they’re sleeping soundly, that the eyes open quickly as you walk by.  This is because there are time when your cat may appear to be sound to sleep, but is not. Cats are both predators and prey, so they have a light phase of sleeping where they can conserve and restore their energy but are alert to their surroundings.  Much of a cat’s behavior is hardwired in from their ancestral background.  While we may call them ‘domestic cats’, they still retain much of their wildcat genes!

Question 5: What are whiskers and why do cats have them?

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A cat’s whiskers aren’t just a cute aesthetic that tickles you when they brush against your face. Whiskers have a very important purpose and are highly sensitive. The follicle is loaded with nerves and the tip of the whiskers have a sensory organ called a proprioceptor. The whiskers are much more deeply embedded in a cat than is the rest of their fur and are located around the nose area, as well as above the eyes, ears and jaw, and on their forelegs! Whisker distribution is symmetrical on a cat and they work as vibration sensors to detect vibrations in the air, which makes them great for measuring distance and chasing prey.  Whiskers can also identify any changes in the air currents that can assist cats in knowing when danger may be approaching.

Whiskers also function as a visual aid for close up and night vision.  A cat doesn’t actually see well up close, so the whiskers aid the cat in navigating his surrounding in front of him.  In the dark, while the cat does have much better night vision than we humans do, the whiskers ability to sense the currents of air flow around object pick up on where things are located to assist the cat in knowing where things are in the dark so they can avoid bumping into things.  Because the whiskers are so extremely sensitive and can pick up on something as small as a tiny dust particle, they also provide a layer of protection to 

sensitive area like the eyes.

Whiskers are pretty amazing little tools and can also be used by a cat to communicate his feelings. For example, if a cat’s whiskers are relaxed, he is most likely happy, whereas rigid whiskers pinned against a cats face most likely mean the cat is feeling threatened or is angry or upset. There are many uses for these cute little tools your cat has and because they are packed with so many nerves and serve some very important functions, it is Never a good idea to trim them!

With all the questions people have about cats, we hope this has helped you in understanding yet a few more things about them!  If there are questions you have, please feel free to email us so we can cover them in one of our upcoming pieces! 

We hope everyone has a Happy Cat Day! 

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