What's the fastest domestic cat? Why do kitties "make biscuits"? How many cats traveled to space? We have those answers and more to ace your next trivia contest.
orange tabby cat on his back in the lap of his owner; facts about cats
Credit: Konstantin Aksenov / Getty

Part of the allure of our fastidious feline friends is how they retain an air of mystery. Heck, if it wasn't for monitoring them on pet cameras, we'd never know what they were doing half the time. So it's no surprise cats are often shrouded in myths and superstitions. 

However, true cat people simply can't learn enough about these incredible creatures, and neither can we. So with the help of animal behaviorist Julie Posluns, ACAAB and owner of Cat School, we've compiled this in-depth list of facts about cats.

Fun Facts About Cats

  • Cats are scientifically proven freeloaders, Posluns says. While many animals prefer to "work" for their food, even when there is a free food option, cats do not. "If you give your cat a puzzle toy next to an identical bowl of food for free, they'll choose the meal requiring no effort," she says.  
  • The Egyptian mau is considered the fastest domestic cat, able to sprint up to 30 mph.
  • Not all kitties go crazy for catnip—most scientists believe this is an inherited trait
  • Since 1994, various types of Persians have won Best in Show at the CFA International Cat Show a whopping 17 times. 
  • Contrary to popular belief, cats are highly trainable with positive reinforcement methods, Posluns says. They can learn an extensive repertoire of skills and tricks and walk on a leash

Interesting Facts About Cats

Cool Facts About Cats

  • The only cat to travel into space was a black-and-white stray named Félicette in 1963. 
  • Cats use their whiskers and sensory hairs on the sides of their legs and head to help feel their way through environments in the dark. 
  • Felines have working, short-term, and long-term memory like other animals and actually remember people
  • "Cats have evolved sophisticated communication abilities with humans," Posluns says. "They follow where our finger is pointing and know where we're looking. Skills like these help them understand us better." They also use purrs, slow blinks, and other behaviors to show they're comfortable with and (dare we say) even love us
  • A polydactyl cat is a kitty with the genetic mutation of extra toes, usually on the front paws, prompting the nickname "mitten cat." The most famous polydactyl cats live at Ernest Hemingway's home and museum

Facts About Black Cats

  • There are more than 20 domestic breeds that can sport solid black coats, including the Bombay, Norwegian forest cat, British shorthair, and American shorthair.
  • Unfortunately, due to a phenomenon called "black cat bias," Posluns says kitties with black coats are adopted less often and euthanized more than other shelter cats. "People may not see how sweet and friendly black cats are because they can't read their facial expressions as well as those of other cats," she adds. 
  • Ancient Egyptians revered black cats because of their resemblance to the goddess Bastet.
  • Black panthers aren't a classification of wild cats. This term is used to describe a color variant of a leopard or a jaguar, and if you look closely, you can see their inky spots. 

Funny Facts About Cats

  • One reason scientific studies of cat intelligence are less prolific than dog studies is because cats are notoriously hard subjects to test. "Many cats drop out of the studies by walking away from the test site," Posluns says. Doesn't surprise us one bit.
  • For 20 years, Stubbs—a stately orange Manx—was "mayor" of the unincorporated community of Talkeetna, Alaska, until his death in 2017. Now holding the mayoral gavel betwixt their paws are Aurora and Denali, who help promote tourism. 
  • Cats spend about 15–20 hours a day resting or sleeping.
  • Posluns says cats are social learners and have been studied for their ability to imitate humans. That's right: You may be living with a copycat. 

Weird Facts About Cats

  • When they walk, cats move paws on one side of their body simultaneously, as this video shows. If you look closely, you'll notice they also place their rear paws in the same spot their front paws just left, like this. Only camels and giraffes have a similar stride.
  • A group of cats is called a clowder
  • Cats have tiny glands in their paws that give off a strong scent, which can provide valuable information when meeting an unfamiliar cat
  • While a cat's jaw opens quite wide up and down, it can't move from side–to–side.
  • Felines don't taste sweetness—they lack the taste bud receptors. The lead author for this study, Joseph Brand, indicated in an NPR interview that if your cat nibbles on your cake or ice cream, they want the fat, not the sugar. (Kitty shouldn't have either as treats, by the way. Here are safer human food options.)
  • However, Posluns says cats can taste the air. "They half-open their mouths to activate their specialized nasal anatomy, giving them the 'taste' of a scent." They do this with the Jacobson's organ (also known as the vomeronasal organ) located behind their upper incisors.