By the way, a cat's purring does not always denote happiness. A cat will purr when in extreme pain, or frightened or stressed. Have you ever heard your cat purring to beat the band on the table at the veterinarian's office? It's like they're saying, "Don't hurt me. I'll be good."
That Sandpaper Tongue
If you've ever been washed by your kitty, you'll know that his rough tongue can hurt. Like every other part of our favorite pets, kitty's tongue development was not by chance, but is a marvelous example of evolution. A cat's tongue is "barbed" with thousands of tiny mounds. These barbs allow kitty to lap water, lick off small pieces of meat, and (very important) to groom himself. Unfortunately, a cat will ingest a lot of fur while grooming, which can lead to nasty hair balls. You can help by brushing him regularly, and if worse comes to worse, administering hair ball remedies.
Watch your cat the next time he drinks water, whether it's out of a bowl or the faucet. You'll see that his tongue curls down, conveniently throwing the water into his mouth, not up, which would toss it into his face. Have you ever tried to curl your tongue down like a cat does? Bet you can't do it!
The Eyes Have It
Kittens are all born with blue eyes. Their eyes gradually change to their permanent color in the first few weeks of life. Eye color is related to several genetic traits. For instance: most blue-eyed white cats are deaf. Although it was commonly felt that cats were colorblind, we now know that they can distinguish red and green. Perhaps there will be "seeing-eye cats" in the future.
Like many other physical characteristics of the cat, his moods are reflected by his eyes. Pupil size changes are the clue: an angry cat will have narrowed pupils, while an excited or frightened cat will have eyes wide open, with large pupils. A mellow, happy cat's eyes will sometimes appear a shade darker than normal. I can't explain this one; it's just an observation.
A cat's field of vision is about 186 degrees, which is far superior to ours. That's one of the reasons you can't sneak up on a cat. Of course their splendid hearing and sense of smell also contribute a bit.
Cats need taurine for good vision, which is one good reason you should not feed your cat dog food. A cat fed exclusively with dog food can go blind.
When kitty isn't feeling well, her eyes are a dead giveaway. They'll be dull and glazed appearing, and you may see the "third eyelid" appearing. This inner eyelid is called a nictating membrane, and serves to protect the eye from dryness and/or damage. When a cat is sick, the third eyelid will partially close, which is a signal to get him to the vet immediately.
The 7th Inning Stretch Have you ever seen a cat with knotted, tense neck and shoulder muscles? Not very often, I think. That's because cats are masters of the "7th Inning Stretch." Watch a cat the next time he stands up from a nap. First, he'll raise himself in the classic "Halloween" posture, back arched like a bow. Next, he'll stretch waaaay out in front, then waaaay out in back. He'll do the same sort of stretching exercise at his scratching post. He doesn't scratch way up high for the hell of it; he's stretching those muscles. That's partly why they stay in such good shape for twisting and turning in mid-air in order to land on his feet. It's also a very good reason why your cat is so laid-back and relaxed while you're rushing to meet a deadline.
- "Cats do not think that they are little people. They think that we are big cats. This influences their behavior in many ways."
Fascinating Feline Facts
Be a Copy-Cat
All in all, it would be a very good practice for humans to emulate their feline companions as much as possible. We can all learn a lot about dignity, self-respect, grooming, self-preservation, loyalty, and good health habits, by observing our chosen feline companions. Don't you ever wish you could purr? I sure do!