Once again, house cats were regarded as an effective means of pest control. Domestic cats were an especially common sight in Roman military forts and were used to ward off pesky rodents and unwelcome vermin that ravaged their food supply and gnawed on their leather armor. Some cats were promoted to mascots and were often made to tag along on military campaigns to uplift the morale of the soldiers. Alas, some of these cats were killed and consumed by starving soldiers as a last resort during the most desperate times, which called for desperate measures, but such cases were few and far between, and had little to do with their domestication.
House cats, which were believed to be the personifications of independence and liberty, slowly garnered prominence in ancient Roman culture, though the symbolism attached to them was originally more figurative and secularized than it was religious. These domestic felines were later upgraded from good luck charms and functional house pets to sacred beings and were woven into the local mythos. Alternative depictions of Libertas, who was usually portrayed with a torch or vindicta (Liberty Pole) in hand, saw the Roman goddess of freedom mounted on a gilded chariot drawn by a duo of spotted house cats. Raconteurs told the story of Diana, the goddess of chastity, hunting, and childbirth, who cleverly transformed herself into a cat to escape the clutches of Typhon, a vicious serpentine beast affiliated with Set, the Egyptian trickster god of war and mayhem. House cats were the only animals that were permitted to enter and exit Roman temples to their heart’s content.
By the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in 476 CE, Egyptian domestic cats had found their way into northern Germany by way of the Baltic Sea ports and continued to advance further inland. By the turn of the 10th century, house cats had become permanent and highly cherished fixtures in most European societies. The purchasing and exporting of domestic felines, while legal, were strictly regulated. Edicts implemented by the Welsh monarch, Hywel Dda, AKA “Howel the Good,” set price ceilings for all the animals eligible for trade in his kingdom. The statute regarding the trade of cats reads: “The value of a cat – four pence. The value of a kitten from the night it is born until it opens its eyes – a legal penny. And from then until it kills mice – two legal pence. After it kills mice – four legal pence.”
To put the house cat’s monetary worth into better perspective, domestic cats that had attained mouser status were equally valuable to an adult sheep in its prime, but were worth less than trained canines, as untaught and unbroken dogs were also priced at four pence. Additionally, unlike Egyptian cat laws, which guaranteed the rights of and extended protection to all domestic felines, only European aristo-cats belonging to noble and titled masters were granted these privileges.
The house cat’s steady assimilation into English society, well into the final years of the Middle Ages, is evinced in The Canterbury Tales, penned by the illustrious English poet Geoffrey Chaucer in 1392. In “Miller’s Tale,” one in the compilation of 24 stories, a servant whose knocks on the gate were met with no response squatted down and peered through the “cat hole” that had been drilled into the bottom corner of the door. This, many believe, was the first-ever reference to what is now known as the “cat flap.”
New world voyagers, as well as the British settlers who colonized North America in the 17th and 18th centuries were largely responsible for the introduction and ensuing expansion of domestic cat populations in America. Many of the pilgrims aboard the Mayflower, along with the following colonial ships destined for the Plymouth colony, habitually brought with them cats that were born with extra toes, otherwise known as “polydactyl” felines, which they believed brought good luck and ensured the safety of their expeditions. Cats with this genetic condition remain aplenty in New England today.
This seemingly omnipresent appreciation for the domestic feline, unfortunately, was anything but. Of course, the aversion to such creatures was not at all a new concept. In some places, such as 6th century Persia, the public perception of house cats was split down the middle. On the one hand, Persian women were notably enamored with cats, who pampered them endlessly with opulent jewelry, fur-dyeing makeover sessions, and the finest meats and treats, and even slept in the same bed with their prized cats. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Persians who subscribed to Zoroastrianism loathed cats with a passion, for they believed them to be in allegiance with evil spirits and demons known as the “jinn.”
There was a dark stretch of time, however, wherein the domestic cat came close to being universally detested, which, naturally, resulted in a marked downturn in their popularity.
Chances are, one is already familiar with the disintegration of the house cat’s once-irreproachable reputation during the infamous Salem Witch Trials, but the undeserved denunciation of domestic felines, as stated above, far preceded this dreadful witch hunt. Meet Pope Gregory IX, most remembered for his notorious proclivity for fearmongering and his reputation as a die-hard opponent of pagan religions. In 1233, Gregory instituted the Vox in Rama: a controversial papal bull that branded all cats – particularly black felines – as wicked creatures who were in cahoots with the Devil. From that point forward, an untold number of cats – most likely in the millions – were barbarically tortured and haphazardly massacred in the name of Christ. Pagan and nonreligious civilians also contributed to the shrinkage of the domestic cat population during this time, which were slain to forestall misfortune or as ritualistic sacrifices by those who practiced ailuromancy.
The methods employed in the genocidal murder of these domestic felines were nothing short of nauseating.
In France, for starters, civilians assembled in their respective town squares during Easter, Halloween, and Midsummer’s Day to spectate the burning of live cats. This twisted form of public entertainment, known as the “brûler les chats,” was popularized (in some accounts initiated) by a 10-year-old King Louis XIV in 1648. The sadistic youngster, who personally requested the gruesome setup, reportedly cheered, twirled, and howled with giddy laughter as officials lowered a basket of mewing, defenseless cats into a crackling bonfire. Black cats were the principal targets on the Feast of St. John the Baptist (June 24th); only those with a patch of white on their chests, which was called the “angel’s mark,” were spared from the flames. Some elected to forgo the ceremonial bonfire, and instead, set cats alight and chased them down the streets.
To commemorate Fastelavn, or the beginning of Lent, Christians in Denmark entrapped black cats in barrels, which were then strung up on a tree. They then proceeded to gather round the tree and whacked at the barrel with sticks and clubs until the barrel burst open. Should the poor cat manage to survive this atrocity, they were pursued, cornered, and beaten to death.
In the Belgian city of Ypres, it was tradition to drag cats up to the belfry of the local church and propel them onto the cobblestone streets below. This abhorrent custom, which began in the 1410s, was a yearly event known as the “Kattentoet” festival. Likewise, cats who were merely crippled by the fall were scooped up and chucked into a bag, which was then set ablaze.
Torture techniques only became more depraved and perversely creative, for lack of a better word, with time. 17th century Italians nailed stray and feral felines to trees or some other kind of wooden post and took turns headbutting the helpless cats. Those who delivered the fatal blow were crowned the winners of this revolting game. Then there was hardened German artillery master Franz Helm, who earned extra diabolical points when he suggested strapping a sack of incendiaries to the back of a cat for the use of siege warfare. “Bind the sack to the back of the cat, ignite it,” reads an excerpt from his proposal. “ – and thereafter let the cat go, so it runs to the nearest castle or town.”
Cats were not only used as kindling in the celebration of various festivities, but also as a form of protest. In honor of the Prince of Orange and the Duke of Anjou’s historic visit to Bruges in July of 1582, local authorities unveiled a princely merchant vessel specially constructed for the occasion, which was packed with three dozen cats and scores of fireworks. An unnamed witness described the harrowing scene: “The screams of the hapless creatures on the ignition of each firework produced further cheers and merriment among the happy throng.”
In November of 1677, demonstrators in England stuffed a life-sized effigy of Pope Innocent XI – which supposedly cost a whopping £40 (roughly $8,000 USD today) – with cats and marched through the London streets, with the procession terminating in Smithfield. The following snippet was taken from a letter written by witness Charles Hatton:
“Last Saturday, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth was solemnized in the city with mighty bonfires and the burning of a most costly pope, carried by four persons in diverse clothing, and the effigies of devils whispering in his ears, his belly filled full of live cats, who squawled [sic] most hideously as soon as they felt the fire. The common saying all the while was that [the cat’s cries] was the language of the Pope and the Devil in a dialogue between them…”
The hatred that medieval Christians harbored for cats was rooted in a number of grossly antediluvian beliefs. To begin with, they asserted that God had given them sovereignty over all of the Earth’s creatures, and singled out cats as one of the few animals that spurned their efforts of domestication, and thus, were in league with Satan. This sentiment was succinctly captured by Edward of Norwich, the grandson of King Edward III and the 2nd Duke of York: “The falseness and malice [of cats] are well-known. But one thing I dare well say that if any beast has the devil’s spirit in him, without doubt it is the cat, both the wild and the tame.”
Dangerously fictitious attributes were assigned to these demon cats. The flesh and sharp teeth of a cat, they said, were poisonous to the touch. Those who inadvertently ingested cat hair or breathed in cat dander choked to death on the spot. Exposure to a cat’s breath, which was akin to toxic fumes, blackened one’s lungs, and led to consumption and other illnesses. What’s more, these despicable creatures took pleasure in sitting on the faces and chests of infants and young children, simultaneously suffocating and extracting their pure, uncorrupted souls for the Devil.
Europeans and British settlers of American colonies alike ostracized and persecuted those who actively chose to raise cats. The blacklisted – the bulk of which were elderly women with no surviving family and friends – were condemned as witches entangled in black magic and the dark arts. Heretics entranced by the spell of these heinous beasts, as per the Catholic Church, robbed, cheated, partook in orgies and lay with animals, among other “sexual perversions,” and murdered without conscience.
“The cat is domestic only as far as suits its own ends.” – 19th century British author Hector Hugo “Saki” Munro, “The Achievement of the Cat”
It wasn’t until the latter half of the 18th century that cats gradually began to come back in favor. In 1758, a veteran botanist and zoologist by the name of Carl Linnaeus, who standardized the binomial nomenclature, proposed an official scientific moniker for the domestic cat – the “Felis catus.” In 1777, German naturalist Johann Christian Polycarp Erxleben recommended that the domestic cat’s name be updated to “Felis catus domesticus.”
The debate surrounding the nature of the domestic cat’s taxonomic rank dragged on for centuries. In 2003, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature corroborated Linnaeus’ findings, and pronounced the domestic cat a distinct species. Four years later, researchers ruled the domestic feline a subspecies of either the Sardinian or the European wildcat, and put forth a new epithet – the “Felis silvestris catus.” In 2017, however, the IUCN Cat Classification Task Force endorsed the verdicts of Linnaeus and the ICZN, and once more declared the Felis catus a species in its own right.
The practice of selective cat breeding is a relatively new concept that only arose in the mid-19th century, but by then, a number of unique breeds had already emerged, courtesy of Mother Nature and thousands of years of domestication.
Among the oldest natural cat breeds still in existence today, apart from the Japanese Bobtail and other previously mentioned varieties, was the Chartreux, documented as early as 1558 – a muscular double-coated feline of French origin that came in slate-gray to grayish-blue with short, stubby legs, often favored by farmers for their exceptional hunting prowess. The Turkish Angora, first referenced in the early 17th century, originated in the Ankara region of Turkey, and had a thick eggshell-white coat, almond-shaped eyes ranging from emerald to Tuscan-gold, and a tapering jaw. The Persian, which was first imported to Italy in 1620, was a remarkably fluffy critter with a round face and a short muzzle, paired with circular, doll-like eyes and a long, thick coat. The Siamese, first mentioned in Thai texts from the late 14th century, was a strikingly elegant cat with long, slender limbs and icy-blue eyes, oftentimes with a sleek, sandy-white coat and dark ombre patches that covered its entire face, as well as its legs and tail.
By then, the vitriolic smear campaign against cats had subsided, and their status as a conventional household pet was restored. The resurgence of pet cats in 19th century London was in one way evidenced by the advent of the so-called “cat’s meat men” in the mid-1800s. These were essentially door-to-door salesmen who peddled cheap cat food in bulk, mainly made out of shredded horse and a blend of other rancid mystery meats. Each pound was priced at 2 ½ pence, or $1.71 USD today.
An enterprising natural history artist named Harrison William Weir took the initiative to capitalize on the revival of the domestic cat. A feline fanatic himself, Weir hosted the first official national cat pageant at London’s Crystal Palace on July 13th, 1871, which was supposedly the first of its kind in the West. In Our Cats and All About Them, an all-encompassing handbook authored by Weir and published in 1889, he confessed that he, too, was repulsed by cats once upon a time, but had a revelatory change of heart and now considered them “possibly the most perfect, and certainly the most domestic” of all the world’s creatures.
With this cat show, he aimed to reshape the opinions of those like his former self and to elevate the perceptions of cat owners towards their pets. As Weir himself put it, they were much more than just nifty exterminators; these one-of-a-kind companions were “[objects] of increasing interest, admiration, and cultured beauty…a beauty and an attractiveness to its owner unobserved and unknown because uncultivated heretofore.”
Weir’s enthusiasm was encapsulated in the diligence and detail he injected into the planning of the main event. With marketability, longevity, and replicability in mind, the cat connoisseur fashioned different criteria for judgment, which he dubbed “Standards of Excellence,” based on build, color, fur lengths, and so on. The panel of judges consisted of Weir, his brother John Jenner, and Reverend J. Macdonald (in some accounts identified as “Rev. Cumming Macdonne”). Fred Wilson of the Crystal Palace National History Department was appointed event coordinator, as well as talent scout.
In the weeks leading up to the event, the organizers fretted over the turnout, as well as the prospect of cramming dozens of cats into a single room. Much to their delight, all their hard work, coupled with the advertisements they purchased in the local papers, paid off. 170 exhibits lined the palace hall, and all the feline contestants were surprisingly well-behaved or otherwise preoccupied, slurping up milk from their saucers, munching on catnip, and catnapping on scarlet cushions as their owners combed their coats.
On top of the five recognized cat breeds in London, the contestants consisted of at least 25 different varieties from around the globe. Attendees marveled at a pair of Siamese cats belonging to a Mr. Maxwell – delicate creatures with “smooth skins and ears tipped in ebony, and blue eyes with red pupils,” reportedly the first of its breed to be imported to England. Jaws dropped at a stately tortoiseshell tomcat with 26 toes, which belonged to a local musician named Mr. Carleigh. The judges handed out a total of 54 prizes, which were awarded to 32 gentlemen, 15 wedded women, and four bachelorettes.
Weir’s cat pageant was a raving hit. In fact, it was so successful that a second show was held in same venue on December 2nd, this time a three-day event due to popular demand. Other cat shows patterned after Weir’s trailblazing pageant were hosted all over the nation, as seen in Alexandra Palace and Birmingham, in the years that followed. In 1887, Weir founded the National Cat Club, an association for feline enthusiasts, and organized another pageant at the Crystal Palace that same year. 325 cats were entered into the competition, which also saw the debut of a new category – “Wild or Hybrid between Wild and Domestic Cats.” An independent cat show held in Edinburgh 12 years prior boasted an even more impressive roster, amassing 570 individual exhibits.
It did not take long for Weir to become disillusioned by his own creation. In 1892, Weir composed a new preface for the second edition of his best-selling handbook, in which he intimated his distaste for the misplaced intentions and exclusionary tendencies of the National Cat Club members. “I now feel the deepest regret that I was ever induced to be in any way associated with it,” Weir lamented. “I found the principal idea of many of its members consisted not so much in promoting the welfare of the Cat as of winning prizes, and more particularly their own Cat Club medals.”
Queen Victoria, an animal rights advocate at heart, has also been credited with remedying the domestic cat’s tarnished reputation. Her fondness for felines was awakened in her late teenage years after she spent several months poring over books about Egyptian cats, which led her to acquire her first pet cats: a pair of Blue Persians purchased at the 1871 cat show at Crystal Palace. The adoption, which included a vivid description of the stunning critters, was widely reported by the press. She went on to become a regular patron of cat pageants and a card-carrying member of the National Cat Club, often made sizable donations to the Chinchilla Cat Society, and dabbled in breeding and exhibiting her own Blue Persians, Chinchilla Cats, and Silver Tabbies.
By the same token, other cat-owning national leaders, influential figures, and celebrities of the time were also instrumental in the renewal of the domestic cat’s image in their respective countries.
French author and literary critic Theophile Gautier, for one, was known to have possessed a bountiful brood of cats. There was Madame Theophile, a dignified orange-and white-breasted beauty with whom Gautier often shared a fork; Childebrand, a “fawn-colored [tabby] striped with black velvet”; and two Angora kittens with fur as white as the driven snow, Marquesa Dona Seraphita and Don Pierrot de Navarre, who in time produced a litter of three black kittens: Gavroche, Eponine, and Enjolras. The Menagerie Intime, penned by Gautier in 1869, chronicled his experiences with his cats.
Across the Atlantic, a feline twosome named Tabby and Dixie made history when they became the first-ever cat residents of the White House. The cats, who belonged to President Abraham Lincoln, had been gifted to him by Secretary of State William Seward. He frequently homed strays, much to the First Lady’s mortification, and on at least one occasion he fed his cats directly from the dinner table in the midst of a formal banquet. On one occasion Lincoln allegedly complained, “Dixie is smarter than my whole cabinet! And furthermore she doesn’t talk back!” President Calvin Coolidge’s tabbies – Tiger, Climber, Blacky, and Bounder – also made themselves at home in the White House in the 1920s.
Of course, no list of famous cat lovers is complete without Mark Twain. “I simply can’t resist a cat, particularly a purring one,” Twain mused. “They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know – outside of the girl you love, of course.” And irresistible they were to him indeed. The feted wordsmith reportedly owned 19 cats, who, as an author was wont to do, were given names that were equal parts regal and poetic, among them jewels like Bambino, Beelzebub, Zoroaster, and Pestilence.
Needless to say, the explosive popularity of cat shows and the regenerated interest in domestic felines in general resulted in the development of new cat breeds – both natural and selective. Owing to the rudimentary technology and the limited knowledge in what was then a fledgling field, however, progress in the art of selective breeding was a piecemeal process. Most of the selectively-bred feline varieties today were only engineered in the last 50 years.
To better appreciate the diversity of the dozens of cat breeds now in existence, one can categorize the varieties based on Weir’s standards of excellence – namely, by the lengths of their fur, the patterns on their coats, and their pedigrees.
Short-haired cats are some of the most low-maintenance breeds, for they do not require daily grooming. One such example is the Abyssinian, which bears one of the closest resemblances to the Sardinian wildcat, what with its lean, yet strong build, its long, slender legs. Its glossy, close-lying coat, characterized by a “ticked” texture, comes in a wide selection of colors like lilac and blue cream, but are most often ginger-brown. The Ocicat is another short-haired feline, and is said to be the only spotted cat, selectively bred from two domestic cat breeds, that was specifically modeled after wildcats. Its short, satiny coat, which comes in tawny, chocolate-brown, and varying shades of silver, is topped off with solid dark spots reminiscent of a cheetah, as well as the asymmetrical stripes of a tiger. The coat of a Bengal, on the other hand – a Frankenstein of the Egyptian Mau, the Asian leopard wildcat, and other domestic breeds – is marked with the rosettes (irregularly shaped brown spots encircled by smaller black spots) of a leopard.
Distinctive markings aside, the ample variety in the coloration of feline coats also warrant their own categories. Tuxedo cats, otherwise referred to as “bi-color cats,” are predominantly black or brown, which is offset by large patches of white, typically on their muzzles, stomachs, and paws. This twofold pigmentation is often seen in Turkish Vans, Maine Coons, as well as American and British Shorthairs. The complexions of Calico cats, or “tri-color” cats, are random, naturally-occurring traits and cannot be engineered. This treble color scheme is not restricted to any one breed; American and British Shorthairs, Manxes, Japanese bobtails, and Norwegian Forest Cats are some of the varieties most prone to this condition.
Traditionally speaking, the faces of Chimera cats are halved by two solid, contrasting colors perfectly split down the middle, and oftentimes have two different-colored eyes. These felines carry two sets of DNA, hence their unique coloration. The pattern is also a naturally-occurring phenomenon, and can manifest itself in almost all breeds. It is important to note, however, that this flawless division of colors is an anomaly. Chimera cats are often mistaken for Tortoiseshell felines, which are cats that come in more than three colors and differing patterns, as often seen in Persians, Ragamuffins, Birmans, and Cornish Rexes. The Oriental Shorthair, said to be the most colorful cat in the world, comes in over 300 color and pattern variations, including silvers, creams, oranges, and browns, embellished in solid spots, chinchilla stripes, and “smoky” markings.
Long-haired cat breeds, as the term suggests, are covered in dense, unusually long, shaggy fur, and appear much chunkier and fluffier than the average house cat. These thick coats are most likely an evolutionary trait that was developed to insulate them from harsh and bitterly cold climates. Cymrics, Siberians, Himalayans, American Bobtails, and Norwegian Forest Cats are some of the most popular long-haired breeds. On the flip side are hairless cats, or “naked” felines – the ideal companions for cat lovers allergic to feline fur. Sphynxes, Elfs, Donskoys, Ukrainian Levkoys, Peterbalds, and other naked cats are extremely sinewy, almost skeletal creatures, oftentimes with loose, pruney skin, and come in many shades, mostly neutral and earthly tones.
The ancestry of a cat is yet another way to differentiate feline varieties. Purebreds are the offspring of two felines belonging to the same breed. Maine Coons, Persians, Siamese cats, and other old breeds are some classic examples of purebred felines. Cross-bred cats are the offspring of two separate breeds, be they pedigreed or mixed; the products of a wildcat and a domestic cat also fall under the same category. The Tonkinese, an admixture of the Burmese and the Siamese, as well as the Serengeti, a cross between an Oriental Shorthair and a Bengal, are some of the more well-known cross-bred felines. Last, but not least, are mixed, or hybrid varieties, which are descended from more than two breeds, oftentimes so many that their bloodlines are virtually untraceable.
All varieties come with their own pros and cons; in other words, there is no such thing as the perfect breed. While the appearance and personalities of purebred cats are more formulaic, they are more susceptible to a broader array of diseases and physical deficiencies. Cross-breeds tend to be healthier cats, as many of them were specifically designed to have the ability to withstand or deter the most common illnesses. The Bengal, for one, was the product of an attempt to combat Feline Leukemia. Nevertheless, purebreds have the upper hand in certain respects. A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine revealed that non-pedigreed longhair cats are more likely to suffer from hyperthyroidism in comparison to purebred longhairs.
Interestingly enough, the physical traits, general habits, and genetic makeup of the modern-day domestic cat, when juxtaposed with their wildcat ancestors, have practically remained unaltered. To this day, both wildcats and domestic felines share a love for stalking and toying with their prey, pouncing to and from great heights, and scent-marking, in which they scratch at, rub up against, or urinate in certain spots to mark their territories. Arts Technica contributor Annalee Newitz adds: “House cats also show none of the typical signs of animal domestication, such as [the] infantilization of facial features, decreased tooth size, and [maximum] docility.”
The differences between these species are subtle and lie in more nuanced behavioral traits. Thanks to genetic mutations, domestic felines are capable of forming memories and retaining information for up to 10 years (200 times longer than domestic canines), as well as learning through fear conditioning and reward-based stimuli. Domestic cats are also considerably less aggressive than their wild equivalents, and are far more tolerant of living alongside humans and even different species.
The different sizes, coat patterns, and appearances of all the cat breeds notwithstanding, domestic felines generally share similar characteristics. The average cat weighs between eight to 10 pounds and measures roughly 15 to 20 inches in length, excluding the tail, and 10 inches in height. Larger varieties such as Maine Coons, Chausies, and Norwegian Forest Cats weigh anywhere between 15 to 22 lbs, and measure about a meter long from nose to tail. In contrast, the smallest breeds, such as Singapuras and Munchkins, are about half the size of the average cat, and are barely 5 lbs.
There is a great deal of variance in the average lifespans of indoor and feral domestic cats. Indoor cats, if cared for properly, can live up to 17 or more years, whereas outdoor felines rarely live longer than two to five years. A tuxedo tomcat named Creme Puff, who managed to reach the ripe old age of 38 years (and three days), is said to have been the oldest pet cat in history.
Females reach sexual maturity when they are between four to 12 months old, and can bear kittens from different sires in the same litter. The heat cycles, or estruses, of domestic felines normally start in February and lasts until October, but cats with excessive amounts of hormones can be in heat, if not spayed, every two to three weeks throughout the entire year. Spaying and neutering, while a contentious practice, is beneficial in more ways than one. Not only is this an effective means of birth control, the lifespan of spayed females can be extended up to 32%, and as for males, 62%.
The skeleton of a domestic cat is comprised of 244 bones – 38 more than that of a human. Like all other wildcats, domestics have five toes on their front paws, and four on their hind paws. Even so, polydactyl cats are not uncommon. Roughly 40% of Maine Coons, in fact, are born with six toes. The title of most toes ever recorded on a cat was awarded to a tomcat named “Mickey Mouse,” who belonged to a Renee Delgade of Westlake Village, California, in October 1974. Domestic cats are also blessed with inborn powers of self-healing. The vibrations of a cat’s purr measures anywhere between 25 to 150 hertz, which corresponds with the frequency that enhances bone density, and allows for the repairing of bones and muscles.
Domestic cats, though often sluggish, leisurely creatures, are deceptively quick on their feet, and far more limber and acrobatic than they look. The typical house cat can jump up to six times their height, and sprints at a speed of 30 mph on average, which is even more astonishing when compared to the top speed of Usain Bolt, clocked at 27.8 mph. The hearing of a domestic cat is also five times sharper than an adult human’s. Better yet, their highly-sensitive ears, which can rotate 180 degrees, are the most superior of all the carnivores, as they can tune in to a more extensive range of frequencies, allowing them to detect the most minute movements and ultrasonic sounds. Cats, albeit short-sighted, also have excellent night vision and peripheral awareness.