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Cats are known for their mysterious ways — and their ability to inspire countless Internet memes. Got questions about your favorite feline? Read on for 10 things you didn't know about cats.
Cats beat out dogs...Slide 2 of 21
Cats beat out dogs...
… In sheer numbers, anyway. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there were about 81,721,000 cats in U.S. households as of 2007; that's compared with 72,114,000 dogs. Just over 32 percent of households owned a cat, and the average cat owner had at least two felines.
By the way, cats and dogs can live together without causing mass hysteria. A 2008 study published in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science found that if cats and dogs are introduced when the cat is under 6 months old and the dog under a year, the two species can coexist in peace. Interspecies clashes may be nothing more than a breakdown in communication, the study found. For example, averted eyes signal aggression in a cat and submission in a dog. The animals introduced early on seemed to understand each other's signals, the researchers found — almost as if they were bilingual.Slide 3 of 21
They're clean drinkersSlide 4 of 21
They're clean drinkers
When you watch a cat lap up milk, you're watching a delicate process. Instead of scooping water into their mouths willy-nilly like dogs, a cat touches the tip of its tongue to the surface of a liquid, creating a column that stretches as it pulls its tongue back. Right before gravity overcomes the upward motion of the cat's tongue, sending the liquid crashing back down, the cat snaps its jaws shut, capturing a mouthful inside.
On every lap, domestic cats get about 0.1 milliliter of liquid. At four laps per second, that's 5 teaspoons (24 ml) each minute.Slide 5 of 21
Watch out for the penis spinesSlide 6 of 21
Watch out for the penis spines
Cats have a cringe-worthy feature on their genitals: hundreds of penis spines. No one is sure what purpose these millimeter-long spines serve, but they may improve sexual stimulation for the male, or perhaps prevent the penis from slipping out of the female's vagina during ejaculation. According to a 1967 study published in the journal Anatomical Record, female cats only ovulate after genital stimulation, so it's possible that penile spines play a role in ensuring ovulation.
Male cats spayed early, however, usually don't develop penis spines. That's because the spines grow in response to male hormones, or androgens. When a cat is castrated, their androgen levels plummet, and the spines either don't develop or shrink away.Slide 7 of 21
Fat catsSlide 8 of 21