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Cat Facts: The Superpowers Every Cat Has

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Yes, Your Cat Has Superpowers

And yes, you're screwed

When you get right down to brass tacks, it's sort of a miracle that humans made our way to the top of the food chain. Humans are squishy, maladaptive, prone to illogical behavior, and we tend to try and change the rest of the world to fit our beliefs rather than simply accepting what is and how it works. Between opposable thumbs, fire, and guns though we've cemented our place at the head of the pecking order. We've even subjugated cats who, if we could simply irradiate one and receive some sort of DNA transfer through a bite, could turn us into predators the like of which hasn't been seen since the latest round of Republican debates.

If you could fuse yourself with your house cat you would gain the ability to do some amazing things. Things like...

(A note for cat lovers: If your cat suffers from urinary tract infections, check out this simple, at-home solution that will keep them healthy without costly vet visits.)

Power #1

Leap Tall Buildings At A Single Bound

blue hour feli
Credit: MorgueFile Image

There is only justice. And tuna. Mostly tuna.

Ever wonder why men who marry supermodels get caught cheating on them with significantly-less-attractive single moms on a regular basis? It's because when you're exposed to the amazing every day it becomes common place. This perfectly describes the world of the cat owner. While you might get exasperated that your feline companion won't stop leaping to the top of the refrigerator, you never stop to really contemplate this act. Those that have tend to do strange things like wander the streets with placards proclaiming that the master race has come, and they're demanding tuna and milk.

According to scientists (who have the time to study things like this as a sneaky way to hit on crazy cat ladies while they're still young) the average cat can leap 5 times its own height.

So what? I can hear some of you saying. I can jump just as high as my cat can! Sure you can. If you get a running start. And if you're wearing the right shoes.

It's instinctive to defend your top spot on the food chain, but you need to back up and think about that statement for a moment. If it's still not impressive, get out a piece of paper and reach back to your high school days where you learned the archaic art of multiplication and long division (your one advantage against the creatures being discussed here).

If you had this very same ability you could, in mid-step, decide to leap to a second or third story balcony like it weren't no thing. You would dominate every basketball game you decided to join, and you would easily shatter Olympic records for defiance of gravity. You could even participate in the pole vault, sans pole, just because you could. Applying the formula, a person that was 5'10" (roughly average height according to the tried-and-true scientific method of "type some stuff into Google") this person could jump 19 feet and 2 inches.

That's just a theory though, right? Well, this number is roughly the jump height of a jaguar, a cat that is more comparable to a human in both weight and height. Think about that the next time you have to get a step stool just to follow a cat into previously unexplored places in the land of up.

Power #2

Faster Than A Speeding Bullet

Have you ever tried catching a cat that didn't want to be caught? Perhaps because you foolishly said the word "vet" out loud, or you keep bath time on the same day every week? You likely noticed it took you and probably the help of one other person and a closed door in a small room to get your hands on the hissing speed demon. Did you ever wonder how fast it was moving?

The answer varies of course, but the knowledgeable men in white coats have given us a ballpark figure of 25-30 miles an hour for a cat's all out sprint. On average. Know how fast an average human can sprint? 10 miles an hour. So your cat can outrun a moped, and you'll be lucky to catch a car moving forward on idle.

Credit: MorgueFile Image

But the bigger a cat is, the slower it moves. Right?

You might want to check the numbers again. For a bigger cat we can use to scale up the speed to human size let's look at the cougar (or the puma, mountain lion, death-in-the-shadows, whatever your quaint name for it is where you come from). The cougar is roughly human sized in poundage and length, and it can run 35-40 miles an hour. That is from a starting stop. So ask yourself how long it takes your car to get up to speed versus how fast a cat's reflexes are.

Kind of scary, isn't it?

Power #3

Jaws of Death

Credit: MorgueFile Image

Everyone knows cat claws are nothing to mess with. They can be honed to a razor sharpness on a variety of materials, and they're faster than a Long Island switchblade, unsheathed with the single flick of a tendon. That said, the really dangerous part of a cat lies right next to those whiskers you like to stroke with your soft, fleshy fingers.

Cats figured out a long time ago that chewing is for pussies (so to speak), and their anatomy eschews muscles that go side to side. If you combine that with a shorter jaw and a more powerful set of mandible muscles (which cats did at some point in evolutionary history) then what you have is a bite capable of tearing huge chunks of flesh from adversaries, or crushing through neck bones and skulls. That last isn't just a cute example either; necks and skulls are two of the favored kill spots of cats big and small.

Anyone that's been on the receiving end of a real cat bite can testify just how deep a dedicated feline can dig with her fangs. On top of the danger of the bite itself though there's the risk of infection. While cats don't have a poisonous bite, per se, their mouths are far from clean and they can leave an infection behind that can liquefy muscle tissue, causing permanent damage to the muscle and tendons in the infected area. Think about that next time you lean in real close and start baby talking to your furry chipper shredder.

And you had the gaul to name this beast Mrs. Fluffles.

Power #4

Hissing Contest

Ever wonder why everything, no matter how big and beastly it is, is afraid of a hissing cat? Aside of course from the bared teeth, the wide eyes and the warning of soon to be unleased violence? Well the reason is because when a cat hisses it is imitating probably the only thing out there that's more frightening and dangerous than a cat... a snake.

Cats, much like Batman, are aware that other creatures are a cowardly and superstitious lot, and that snakes are one of the only things universally feared throughout the animal kingdom. If you watch when a cat bares its fangs, lays back its ears, and even spits it looks uncannily like a furry reptile. The spitting is actually really important because it's something snakes do that really freaks out enemies, and once a cat puts the fear of a serpent into another creature it can pounce on the weakness or book it at top speed while its opponent is wondering what just happened.

Power #5

Smelling Fear

scenting cat
Credit: MorgueFile Image

Yep, this one peed himself too.

When you think of keen senses of smell chances are man's best friend is the first pet that comes to mind, but cats are no slouches when it comes to getting a good whiff of what's going on. Particularly when it comes to knowing whether or not you're afraid. Want to know why? Well, the reason is two-fold.

One is that cats simply have a really big nasal cavity. Think of it like a V-8 engine sucking in air and running it over a huge swath of sensory cells that take it apart like a biological crime lab. In addition to that, cats possess an organ called the vomeronasal organ, or Jacobson's organ for those that don't want to think about the implications of the word vomeronasal. This organ is a tube that goes from the mouth to the nose, and it increases the sense of smell 14 times over.

This adaptation isn't unique to cars, but it is possessed by relatively few other mammals. And by snakes. Are you seeing a pattern here?

Power #6

Hearing Your Heartbeat

shocked cat
Credit: MorgueFile Image

Did you hear that?

You'd think given the radar dishes on a cat's head it would be able to hear well. This is kind of like saying given how much water is in the ocean you'd think it would be sort of wet. When it comes to hearing your cat more than likely knows when you're lying, and it can hear your neighbor opening up cans of food. On the other side of the apartment complex. It also knows that you're coming home, and it will be ready when you do; either to trip you while purring, or to jump on you from a high place.

Cats can pinpoint the exact spot a sound is coming from within inches up to a yard or more away. Cats can also hear into the 65 kilohertz range of sound, whereas normal human hearing stops at the 20 kilohertz range. Additionally cats can rotate each ear independently up to 180 degrees to help pinpoint the location of the sound, and they can react more quickly than your average guard dog once a sound is heard. Think for a moment what that sort of hearing would do for your average work day.

Power #7

You Are Goddamn Houdini!

Have you ever found your cat jammed into the couch, underneath your bed, or slipping into areas that you generally don't want him to be in and you have no idea how he managed it? That is one of the many, many advantages of being a cat. You see, anything your nosy little head can fit through, the rest of you can follow. That means of course that nowhere short of a bank vault is ever really safe from you.

The trick behind this nasty little surprise for anyone that tries to capture the Feline Phantom (you got a better name for an escape artist cat superhero?) is credited to a cat's unattached collar bone. While there is a collarbone, and the cat does in fact have shoulders, the collarbone is buried in the muscle and isn't connected to any other bones. Combine that with narrow hips, some additional muscles, and segmented bone structure, and the head becomes the widest part of your anatomy. That's really what the whiskers are for actually; they help a cat judge what is wide enough, and what is going to result in an unfortunately tight squeeze. They don't have to rely on their eyes, but if they wanted to they totally could because...

Power #8

You Can See In The Dark!

Cat Eyes
Credit: MorgueFile Image

Anyone that's ever seen Vin Diesel's thinly veiled "Thundercats Meets Space Conan" (alternatively titled Chronicles of Riddick) knows that one of the scariest and possibly the most useful powers in the world is being able to see in the dark. You can take out platoons of guards by hand, navigate through subterranean mazes, and you will always have the advantage over enemies who aren't gifted with night sight. So of course it only makes sense that on top of everything else your cat can do this too.

Well, not total darkness; let's not get silly here. Your cat can see perfectly with only 1/6th the amount of light you need due to the back layer of extra-receptive cells in its eyes. These same cells also give them additional acuity, and that terrifying shine that sends shivers down your back. You also gain pinpoint accuracy and a full 200 degrees of sight. This is the real reason the Black Panther shows up at Avengers Manor whenever he pleases, and no one says a thing about it.

Power #9

You Always Land On Your Feet

Cat in tree
Credit: MorgueFile Image

This one's an old wives' tale, right? It's just something that people say, and none of us really know why we say it anymore? Isn't it?

Afraid not.

It's not a myth that cats hit the ground on all paws. In fact cats have specifically evolved an ability for this one, very off-putting purpose. It's called the Righting Reflex, and it allows a cat to, even in mid-air, turn its head and pull its body after it. It looks like Spider-Man just lost the Parkour King title.

Now, an unfortunate fact for those wondering how to get the cats before they get you is that this reflex has been shown to substantially decrease the damage cats sustain in a fall from over 7 stories. Yes, you read that right. Cats that fall from ABOVE 7 STORIES have fewer injuries due to this little anatomical gem that will put their feet under them. Just to clarify, that is a regular old alley cat that fell out of a high rise window. Not a specially bred super-cat or some weird exotic hybrid that only 12 people in the world own. Just Mr. Snickers going for a leap of faith on Saturday morning.

As with everything else here you need apply the formula and make this cat man-sized. This is the real reason Batman has never actually managed to put Selina Kyle anywhere, ever, and that of the rogue's gallery she is consistently free to go about her business. Because really, who's going to mess with someone that can do this?



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  1. "Cat Righting Reflex." Ask.com. 10/10/2014 <Web >
  2. "The Nose Knows." About.com. 10/10/2014 <Web >
  3. "How Does A Cat Bite Down With Such Force?." eHow.com. 10/10/2014 <Web >
  4. "Cat Facts And Trivia." Cat Stuff. 10/10/2014 <Web >
  5. "Cougar." Wikipedia. 10/10/2014 <Web >

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