Feline Facts

In the past, tabby cat meant any house cat, even though the name was used more often to refer to a female, as in toms and tabbies. Later, it came to mean a cat whose coat showed bands or stripes of a darker color than the base color. There is really not a breed called “Tabby” but the word is used among cat fanciers to refer to several types of coat patterns. The Classic Tabby has clearly defined bands on the body. There are bars of the darker color on the face and there is a defined M-shape of the darker color on the cat’s forehead. The Mackerel Tabby is similar to the Classic Tabby except that the stripes are narrower. The M can be seen on the forehead. The descriptive word, mackerel comes from the mackerel fish. Most people find “Tabbies” very sweet and affectionate. They make wonderful pets.

1) Down – short, fluffy with great insulating properties
2) Awn – mid-length hair
3) Guard – longer, straighter hairs and
4) Vibrissae – specialized hairs called whiskers (most cats have 24 whiskers, divided equally on opposite sides of the face and arranged in four rows.
They also have whiskers on their forelegs that help with pat-pat-patting objects.) There are exceptions to the four-hair model. For example, the Cornish Rex has no guard hairs, and the down and awn hairs are crimped, as are the whiskers. The Persian has a long coat where even the down hairs are long, making the coat prone to matting. And the unique hairless Sphynx typically has only a bit of fur on the extremities, with the rest of the body covered in peach-fuzz.

People love the sound of a cat purring but the soothing sound is not very well understood. You probably think a purring cat is a happy cat, but this explanation doesn’t cover all the bases. Cats purr not only when they are happy but also when they are stressed – for instance, at the vet’s office. (Some when they are dying). Think of purring as the cat’s equivalent of our smile, indicating no hostile intent. HOW cats purr has long been a mystery. In a Breton folktale, cats are said to have developed the purr after spinning ten thousand skeins of linen thread to help a princess break an enchantment. It’s easy to understand how a cat’s purr could be compared to the whir of a spinning wheel. Today however, the mystery has been solved. The sound a cat makes is caused by vibrating muscles surrounding the larynx (windpipe). Researchers have also discovered where the purr originates: in the brain! Stimulation of a specific area in the cat’s brain causes cats to begin purring. The purr is one of the first sounds newborn kittens make as they snuggle up to their mother for suckling and warmth. As they mature, their purr becomes more complex. While young cats tend to purr in monotone, adults are capable of reaching 2-3 notes and sometimes as many as five. Purring can go on for hours without a break, even while a cat is eating or sleeping. In fact, it has been suggested that the purr is nothing more than a form of snore. Often, purring cats drool as well. The combination of saliva, purring and paw kneading in an adult cat may indicate a temporary regression to feeding time in kittenhood. It was once believed that the Big Cats did not purr, but experts have discovered that wild members of the felis genus, which includes includes bobcats, cougars, and lynxes, can purr like domestic cats. Members of the genus panthera – lions, tigers, leopards, panthers, and jaguars – can purr, but only with outward breaths, unlike domestic cats, who can purr while inhaling and exhaling. The difference may be a matter of throat construction.

Tuxedo cats aren’t a particular breed. They get their name from the distinct, bi-colored (also called piebald) markings on their coats that resemble tuxedos. Tuxedo cats don’t have to be black and white. And because they can be a variety of breeds, their coats can be short, shaggy, long, or silky.

Cats can have a dominant front paw. Studies have shown that male cats tend to favor their left paw while female cats may have a dominant right paw.