Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Intriguing Facts about Dogs and Cats

By Linda Cole

Most pet owners spend a lot of time bonding with their pets and learning all about them. We know where they like to be scratched, if a thunderstorm will upset them, how they respond to strangers, or if a stubborn streak will try your patience. Each pet is unique with their own personality, but as a species all dogs and cats are intriguing. Here are 13 facts you may not know about your pet.

1. A dog's sense of smell is so powerful that some can detect odors buried 40 feet underground or track whale scat in the ocean. We have around 5 million scent receptors in our nose, but canine noses are equipped with around 125 to 300 million scent receptors, depending on the breed.

2. A common belief is that all cats are lactose intolerant and shouldn't be given milk, but that's not true for every feline. Some don't have a problem drinking milk; however, after weaning they don't need milk, and it can upset a cat's tummy if she drinks too much. As long as your cat can tolerate it, there's nothing wrong with giving her an occasional saucer of milk in addition to a quality cat food like CANIDAE. If you want to know if your kitty can have some milk now and then, give a small amount and wait 24 hours. If she doesn't develop diarrhea, a little milk as a treat is fine.

3. A dog's wet nose helps capture scent particles, and if his nose is dry, he may lick it to help him catch a scent. They can wiggle each nostril independently, and they know which nostril a smell entered, which helps them locate the source of a smell. The nose is made up of ridges and dimples unique to an individual dog, and is believed to be as individual as our fingerprints are. Felines also have a nose print that can be used to identify an individual cat.

4. Cats that live on their own don't communicate by meowing to each other. Domesticated cat meows and yowls are used to communicate with humans. Felines have a fairly sophisticated vocalization range of about 100 different meows or yowls. Dogs only have about 10 different barks, yips or snarls.

5. Dogs have a disconnected shoulder blade, which gives them a better range of motion when running and jumping. Most canines can run at around 19 mph at full speed.

6. Hunting isn't something that comes naturally to cats. It's a skill that must be taught to a kitten by her mom. All cats instinctively know how to stalk, pounce and capture prey, but if their mom never taught them how to kill, they don't know a mouse is a food source.

7. Dogs have 18 muscles in each ear. This helps him fine-tune the position of his ears to locate exactly where a sound is coming from. He can locate the source of a sound within 6/100th of a second. Cats have 32 individual muscles in each ear, and can move each ear independently to pinpoint the location of a sound.

8. Cats favor one paw or the other. Researchers in Belfast have found that females tend to favor their right paw, and males are more likely to be left-pawed. Some cats are ambidextrous.

9. Only two mammal species have prostate glands: dogs and humans.

10. Cats can squeeze through small spaces because their collarbone is vestigial, or underdeveloped. Feline shoulder blades are attached to their body with muscles, not bone, which allows a cat to extend her running stride. They can run around 12 mph and sprint at about 30 mph. A cat’s spine is more limber than most other animals, allowing them the flexibility to skillfully perform acts of agility, balance and even speed as a runner.

11. Dogs and cats are digitigrades. This means they walk directly on their toes, and their feet make up the lower part of the leg.

12. Cats walk by moving their legs on one side of their body, and then moving the other side (left front leg and left back leg together, right front and back legs the same way) in what is called a pacing gait. Camels and giraffes are the only other animals that walk this way. When cats trot, the gait changes to a diagonal gait – back left leg moves with front right leg –which is how most mammals move.

13. A cat's tongue is lined with papillae, which are very small elevated backward hooks made out of keratin, a fibrous protein present in skin, hair and nails. This helps the cat hold onto his prey. They also aid the cat when grooming.

Top photo by FastPhive
Middle photo by Arkansas ShutterBug
Bottom photo by Roy Montgomery

Read more articles by Linda Cole


  1. Very interesting! We knew some of these...but learned some things too!

  2. Super interesting!!! Especially about cats' vocalizations!
    Very cool...
    ; ) Katie


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