happy kitten with open mouth
Kitty kisses – they come only once in a blue moon and seem to be reserved for fleeting moments when your cat is feeling extraordinarily affectionate. Or when you have some yummy dinner stuck to your face. Either one.
If you've been on the receiving end of the rare but wonderful kitty kiss, you've likely been struck with the peculiar question: why does my cat's tongue feel like sandpaper?
Oddly enough, the texture of your cat's tongue – and any subsequent kisses – is more complex than just a rough grit or unusually stiff taste buds.
In fact, your cat's tongue has a unique anatomy that lends itself to many useful tasks that are important to the health and positive mood of your feline friend.

Kitty Cat Anatomy

cat tongue
Have you ever taken a look at your cat's tongue? The next time you catch your kitty in a big, gaping yawn, take a look in there. You'll notice your cat's tongue is equipped with a few things that are foreign to us humans.

Papillae

The first and most noticeable difference between your cat's tongue and the rest of the animal kingdom are small, hook-like barbs called papillae. When you peek into your cat's mouth, these are the thin, backward-facing structures you see lining the surface of your cat's tongue.

Taste Buds

The papillae are not taste buds; your cat does have tastebuds, but not very many! Cats have far fewer taste buds than humans and they have none that detect for sweet flavors. Oddly enough, if your cat seems to like berries and other sweets, it's probably a learned behavior from being fed human foods.

Super Sensitivity

Despite not having many taste buds, cats' tongues are surprisingly sensitive to texture and size. If your cat is rejecting a new food, it may be because of the shape of the pieces or the sensation they create when they hit her tongue. Best to go with a cat food that is cat and cat-parent approved.

Why Does My Cat's Tongue Feel Like Sandpaper?

cat licking paw
The answer to the timeless question "why does my cat's tongue feel like sandpaper" is both simple and complex. The simple answer is that your cat's papillae create a grating sensation on the surface of your skin with every lick. These stiff, hook-like structures give your cat's tongue its rough texture.
On a more complex level, many pet parents often wonder why on earth our dear, sweet kitties have such a mean looking mouth. If you've ever taken a look at those sci-fi-worthy papillae, you'll surely notice they are nothing to be trifled with.
However, in your cat's world, grooming is right at the top of the priorities list, second only to napping and eating. The papillae on the surface of your cat's tongue help your modern day cat whisk away dirt, loose hair, and knots from her gorgeous pelt.
For your cat's ancestors, big cat cousins, and his brave feral friends outside, the papillae are useful for cleaning meat and fat from the bones of pray.

Parental Warning

cat sleeping with tongue out
Your cat's sandpaper tongue isn't just a weapon she can use in the battle against bad hair days. In fact, the papillae on your cat's tongue can cause serious problems in the wrong circumstances.
For example, many cats love to lick fabric or play with yarn and string. If this sounds like your cat: beware.
The papillae on your cat's tongue can easily get caught on foreign objects, particularly fabrics and fibers. If your cat is unable to spit it out, he may try to chew on it more or even attempt to swallow it, which can cause serious health problems.
The next time a fellow cat lover asks you the age-old question "why does my cat's tongue feel like sandpaper?" you'll be able to answer with a thorough, helpful answer.
Have other questions about your cat's curious anatomy? Let us know in the comments below!

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long haired cat

Many people understandably assume that a cat's coat is determined by - or interchangeable with - its breed, but like everything pertaining to your favorite regal, furry beast, it's complicated. Remember the Human Genome Project, which brought scientists from around the globe together to map the entire genetic blueprint of the human race? Well, the cat genome sees the human genome and raises it to a new level of weird, fantastic, and just slightly crazy.

Watch the Fur: The Science Behind Why Your Cat is a Prince Harryesque Ginger or a Deaf Albino

Unlike basic humans with their lack of genetic intrigue and variety, cat coats do not consist of merely a color, but a pattern as well, which along with other features like hair length are determined by a kaleidoscopic interplay of a number of genes. Like people (but better, obviously), cats inherit their genetic traits from both parents, with a few twists.

Color Coat

color coat
Despite the grand variety of colors and patterns that cats display and how original they'd like us to believe they are, all cat hair comes in two basic colors: red and black. Think of white-haired cats as bottle bleached blondes, except that in this case nature does the bleaching for them, but at heart, every cat is really either a brunette or a ginger. Some just have better highlights and shading than others. Just like blending two colors can create unlimited shades when painting a work of art, so it goes with a cat's coat.
Not surprisingly, lady cats inherit a significant array of beautiful colors and patterns thanks to the XX chromosome, just like their humans. Since certain traits like coat color are determined by sex-specific genes, lady cats can be both black and red, whereas male cats are stuck with one or the other. So, certain fur palettes, like calico and tortoise, only occur in female cats. However thanks to what is known as a dilute gene, a basic red or black coat can manifest into anything from a classic ginger (orange) to a blue or gray.

Pattern Genes

tabby cat

  • Pointed
  • Shading
  • Bicolor
  • Tricolor
Fun fact: all cats are technically tabbies because they all carry the gene, despite any protestations to the contrary.
Bonus: A cat's tongue is basically a built-in comb, containing special ridges that allow them to groom and style their coat to perfection at will, frizz, and static be damned.

Don't Judge a Cat By Its Coat

Except that people have done exactly that, and here's what they've come up with:
  • Torties and calicos - feisty and sassy as the day is long
  • Shorthairs - reach for the Ritalin
  • Longhairs - will (probably) not sass you that much
  • Gingers (orange) - friendly and fun
  • Tricolors - just don't even
  • White - aloof and just not here for your issues

 

38andKitty

Have you mapped out your cat's genome down to the last chromosome? Does your cat think she's a Charlotte when she is obviously a Miranda? Did you have to break it to your British Shorthair that he is not, in fact, a member of the Royal Family? Share your feline genetic sleuthing tips and results in the comments section!

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cat with crown

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As long as there has been civilization, there have been cats maneuvering around in the background, secretly running things. So irresistible is the feline charm and magnetism that some of history's most powerful and influential figures have spent their lives under their spell (or command, you decide). According to reports, famous cat people include everyone from Russian Tsarina Catherine the Great, to Mark Twain, Pope John Paul II, and none other than the 16th and 30th presidents of the United States, Abraham Lincoln and Calvin Coolidge, but much to their chagrin, cats are often relegated to the back burner and robbed of their due by their humans. From Socks Clinton to Smurf Village villain Gargamel's trusted sidekick Azrael, some of history's most famous and infamous cats (real and fictional) have gone on to become villains, moguls, legends, and icons in their own right.

3 Cats That Probably Had/Have a Much Better Life than You and Everyone You Know

From one percent-level riches to epic revenge stories on a global scale, here is an unscientific compilation of a few real and fictional cats that are beating most of us at life.

Tommaso the Roman Trustafarian and Influencer

black cat who inherits money
Tommaso sees your paycheck to paycheck existence and laughs as he sharpens his well manicured claws with 24K gold emery boards. After a rough start on the mean streets of Rome, Tommaso found his way into the arms of Maria Assunta, who upon her death bequeathed Tommaso a real estate portfolio valued at a cool $13 million. Rumor has it that he has also inspired some Drake lyrics.

Hello Kitty

hello kitty
This one may seem obvious, but creating a list of baller cats and overlooking Hello Kitty is like talking about rain and overlooking water. Hello Kitty, aka Kitty White, has been living the dream just outside Londontown since 1974 (and yet hasn't aged a day). While modernity has relegated some of her contemporaries to the dustbin of history (Garfield who?), Kitty's game continues to blow up. In addition to the show, the merch, and the legend itself, she also has a string of brick and mortar cafes popping up all over lands as far off and exotic as Southern California.

Lola the Cat that Got Chucked in the Bin

lola the cat
To be alive and not in a comatose state in 2010 was to have your summer captivated by the plight of Lola, a British kitty who was minding her own business (that we know of), only to be picked up by human villain Mary Bale and tossed into a garbage (or rubbish, as the Brits say) wheelie bin.
Lola may have come to prominence as an initial victim, but revenge was ultimately hers. The crime was caught on video, as 21st century crimes often are, and created an international scandal that ranged from comparisons to Hitler but more evil, to actual calls for the death penalty for the monster. Ultimately, a British court decided to fine Mary 250 pounds sterling because let's face it, the woman's life is pretty much over anyway. Lola, on the other hand, will go down in history as a progenitor of one of the 21st century's biggest phenomenons: the totally not irrational or blood thirsty internet mob. (Just ask the dentist who murdered Cecil the Lion, if you can find him).
The cat industrial complex is bigger than all of us. Share your thoughts in the comments section and let us know how much more you spend on food and toys for your cats than for yourself and family. We won't judge.

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 cat with american flag bowtie

It’s difficult for anyone who hasn’t experienced war first hand to imagine what it was like for the brave souls who fought to defend others and their countries.

No one should have to endure such hardship.

However, it’s comforting to know that in World War I and World War II, heroes from the United States and allied nations had feline companions helping them in the fields.

In fact, historical records show that military leaders ordered more than 500,000 cats to be brought into the trenches during World War I alone. Many cats were born in the trenches and the soldiers gladly raised these brave kittens into war cats.

On November 11th, when we’re all tipping our hats and showing our appreciation for our nation’s heroes, let’s give an extra salute to the fierce felines who were there to offer support.

Here’s how cats left an indelible paw print on the lives of WWI and WWII heroes.

Hunters

cat in military

It’s no secret that cats are adept hunters – which is why the military originally requested feline aid.

Cats were first brought into the trenches and aboard ships to protect the soldiers’ food supplies. With mice, rats, and other vermin vying for the opportunity to nibble away at the troops’ food rations – and leaving their disease-carrying droppings behind – cats were the perfect companion on Naval vessels and in soldier camps.

The cats kept the vermin populations at bay and, by extension, kept the soldiers nourished and healthy. Thankfully, the cat hero battalions were happy to do the job in exchange for an endless supply of squeaky snacks.

Mascots

military cat

Cats became so commonplace in the trenches that many battleships and aerial fleets adopted specific cats as their mascots.

Thanks to museums around the world, we have strong documentation of many feline mascots who inspired the troops in WWI and WWII.

There was, to name just a few:

  • Ching, an Aussie kitty who was known to shake hands (ahem... paws) with the sailors aboard the Royal Australian Navy Destroyer HMAS Swan
  • Tabby, a feisty mascot to a unit of Canadian soldiers
  • Togo, the stoic and kingly mascot of the battleship HMS Dreadnought
  • Spark Plug, the spunky and fearless mascot of biplane pilots in WWI
  • Blackie, a savvy servant of the British Royal Navy’s HMS Prince of Wales

These cat heroes and others were symbols of strength and resilience. They were tiny, seemingly delicate creatures that walked among men 10 times their size in perilous situations.

The feline mascots of WWI and WWII helped the soldiers hold on to the values they prized most of all and gave the troops a common friend to unite them all when many of the young fighting men started out as complete strangers.

Heroes

cat in world war 2

Simply put, the cats who lived during WWI and WWII were heroes. Not only were they courageous enough to stick around in such dire situations, but also they provided a resource to the soldiers that was both precious and rare in those times: emotional support.

With their cat companions by their sides, to cuddle during the cold nights and to purr gently when all the men wanted was a moment of peace, the soldiers were given the gift of emotional support from loyal feline friends.

Moreover, the cats provided entertainment for the men. Many WWI and WWII cats were trained to perform tricks, while others caused riots of laughter simply by being their natural selves. Cats were often found peering out of gun barrels or walking along sandbag walls with pure feline attitude that delighted the soldiers.

From World War I to today, cat heroes have been found around every corner. So today we’d like to give thanks to the brave men and women who serve our country and the cat heroes who help them through the toughest of days.

Have a photo of your very own cat hero? Share it with us on Instagram by tagging us @PrettyLitterCats

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Black Cat on Pumpkin

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If you’re like all of us on the PrettyLitter team, you probably think black cats are absolutely adorable.

So where did their ultra-spooky, bad-luck reputation come from?

And why are they so closely associated with Halloween?

Well, we’re on a mission to save black cats everywhere from the bad rep, so we dove into the history books to find out how black cats became an instantly recognizable symbol for the most creepy night of the year.

A Quick History on Black Cats

Black Cat

https://phz8.petinsurance.com

Oddly enough, in many other cultures – like parts of the United Kingdom, Japan, and Egypt – black cats are actually seen as lucky!

So how did we end up with this idea that black cats are unlucky and even frightful in the United States?

The luck-lineage of black cats is difficult to trace, but some historians seem to think the black cat’s bad reputation stems from mythology. Greek, Celtic, and Norse mythology references black cats in one way or another.

In ancient times, the Greeks told stories of Zeus and Hera – the king and queen of the gods. Despite being a beautiful and beloved ruler, Hera was full of spite. In one of her many plots, she tried to prevent the birth of Heracles. Galinthias, a servant, foiled her plan and Hera turned her into a black cat out of anger. Later, the now-cat Galinthias became the assistant to Hecate, the Greek goddess of witchcraft, ghosts, the moon, and death. Spooky.

We can thank the Romans for the idea that “a cat running across your path from right to left—if it was a black cat especially—would be an ominous thing,” according to Dr. James Serpell, an expert in zoology and the history of animals.

In Norse mythology, the goddess Freyja is the ruler of love, beauty, fertility, and war (quite the combo!). This fancy lady rode around for seven years on a chariot pulled by two black cats. As legend has it, Freya freed her black cat servants by turning them into witches once their service was up.

Later, the people of Scotland told stories of a fairy creature named Sìth, a black cat that was infamous for stealing souls from dead bodies before the soul could find its proper way to the afterlife. In many of these stories, the black cat Sìth would use these souls to take on human form as a witch.

In the year 1232, Catholic Pope Gregory IX decreed in his Vox in Rama that the black cat is the “incarnation of Satan.” Where he got this idea is unclear, but his opinion carried a lot of weight and resulted in centuries of fear of black cats in Europe.

Only one ruler, King Charles I of England, who ruled from 1625 to 1649, didn’t buy into the Pope’s decree and owned a black cat that he said brought him luck. Unfortunately, the day after his dear feline friend passed away, King Charles I was arrested for treason and, soon after, beheaded.

One thing is clear: people feel very strongly either in favor of or against black cats. While some believe that black cats are a bad omen and take ritual measures to ward off the bad luck black cats bring, others believe their black cat friends are full of love, light, and luck.

Black Cat Symbolism

Witch Cats

https://themoonlightshop.com

Over the years, as the black cat’s reputation has evolved, the black cat has become a symbol of various omens.

When the Puritans had their bout of bad luck during the Salem Witch Trials, they believed that witches could bond with specific animals, which were referred to as “familiars.” These familiars were often seen as extensions of the witch and evil witchy deeds. Eventually, all black cats were assumed to be affiliated with witches.

Black cats may also get their bad reputation simply because of the color of their fur. Black is often associated with evil, anarchy, and mayhem. This association was made stronger by a branch of anarchists known as “anarcho-syndicalists” who fought for labor rights in the early 1900’s. This group took on the black cat as their symbol and later became known as the Industrial Workers of the World.

After so many years of getting the short end of the stick when it comes to luck and associations, the black cat was eventually added to the traditional cast of Halloween decor amongst ghosts, goblins, and ghouls.

Halloween

During Halloween, you’ll likely see black cat silhouettes in windows, perfectly perched kitties on the backs of broom sticks, and those lovely yellow eyes glowing at you from around every corner. Black cats are most commonly seen alongside witches or even adorning their own witch hat, making them one of the most popular Halloween symbols and decorations.

However, black cats are also among the least frightening and gory decorations you’ll likely see this Halloween, making them a kid-friendly symbol of Halloween fun. Just be sure to teach your kiddos that black cats are no different than other cats – they just get a special mention during this time of year.

Celebrate Black Cats

Black Cat

www.petfinder.com

Despite a (very) long history of being known for mischief and mayhem, we’re a fan of the black cat. So much so that you may even see some of the PrettyLitter team donning black cat costumes this Halloween. And we’ll do so proudly in celebration of our feline friends and all their gorgeous goodness.

Unfortunately, many people let their superstitions turn them against black cats – especially during this time of year. According to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), black cats are far less likely to be adopted than white or tabby cats. One way to celebrate black cats this season is to adopt a new black cat friend in need of a home.

While black cats seem to have loads of fun scaring the socks off us humans on Halloween, they return to being our cuddly, fluffy friends throughout the rest of the year. In fact, every year black cats are celebrated on August 17th, which is known as Black Cat Appreciation Day.

Whether you want to celebrate your black cat with a black cat Halloween costume, a special celebration in August, or an honorary mention this Halloween, we’re all for it. Black cats are all good in our book.

Have you heard of other black cat myths and legends? Share them with us in the comments below. And, of course, since we’re lovers of feline black beauties, we’d love to see your black cat on Instagram @PrettyLitterCats.

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Big Cats

cites.org

Their size is certainly astounding when compared to an ordinary house cat, but the real big cats of the world have some truly extraordinary qualities. Read on to find out some incredible fun facts about the world's largest feline predators!

1. Siberian Tiger

Siberian Tigers

commons.wikimedia.org

At nearly 11-feet long and weighing in at close to 700 lbs. on average, male Siberian Tigers are the largest cats in the world. These ferocious animals are excellent hunters and thrive in cold environments. Though these creatures are known for exceptional night vision – ideal for their nocturnal hunting lifestyle – Siberian Tigers are actually born blind. They depend solely on their mothers for food until they mature and can become independent hunters.

2. African Lion

African Lion

www.virginexperiencedays.co.uk

Certainly one of the most magnificent cats in the world, the African Lion is strong, powerful, and ferocious. Living in prides of about 10 to 15 lions, they are considered to be a social species. The lionesses in the pride do most of the hunting and the lions actually sleep up to 20 hours per day. But when they are awake, they make their presence known with a roar that can actually be heard up to five miles away!

3. Jaguar

Jaguar

en.wikipedia.org

These fierce felines are the third largest big cats in the world – and the largest in the Americas. These magnificent cats are a far cry from your typical household kitty. Unlike most felines, they like the water. Their preferred habitat is the rainforest and they will pounce into the water for food. Speaking of food – jaguars aren’t picky eaters. They will eat just about anything from snakes to cows, and they have enough power and strength in their jaw to bite through a human skull – skill lions don't even have.

4. Cougar

cougar

www.smithsonianmag.com

The most adaptable of the big cats, cougars can be found in more than one type of habitat, scattered all over the USA. Cougars can live anywhere from forests, to deserts, to mountains. There are over 30,000 cougars in the US today. They aren’t able to roar like some other big cats. In fact, they have a purr similar to the sound of domesticated cats. But don’t be fooled by their kitty-like sounds. This is one tough wildcat, with the ability to jump as far as 45 feet!

5. Leopard

leopard

en.wikipedia.org

An expert hunter, the leopard is a very fast big cat! These animals can run over 35 mph. They are also excellent climbers. They often hunt food and carry it up into a tree to avoid losing their fresh meal to nearby scavengers or other leopards. After all, leopards do put a lot of effort into getting their paws on a meal. They stalk their prey closely, pounce, and immediately tear into the neck. Skilled and precise hunters, leopards use their time wisely in the wild.

6. Cheetah

cheetah

kids.nationalgeographic.com

If you thought the leopard was fast, then this next big cat will really impress you. A cheetah can run up to 70 mph, making it faster than your car is on your way to work in the morning! They can also reach that speed in just three seconds. So they’re quick on their feet, to say the least. Cheetahs, unlike most other big cats, hunt in the daytime. In fact, they do this specifically to avoid competition from lions, leopards, and other predators. 

7. Snow Leopard

snow leopard

animals.sandiegozoo.org

As the name suggests, this feline predator lives in cold areas in Central and South China. Their bodies are built to endure the cold like no other animal. They have very thick fur to keep them warm and huge paws to help them trek through the snow. Probably the most interesting fun fact, the snow leopard’s nose actually heats up the air it inhales before it reaches the lungs. That’s one way to keep warm.

Do you have some more points on Big Cats that we did not mention? Tell us in the comments below!

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kittens jumping in the air

“A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays, and for the last three he stays.” Yes, it’s a cliche, but to paraphrase Dickens, the wisdom of our ancestors is in the proverb. We all know that cats are some of the most lithe and supple creatures on the planet. But why? What’s the science behind the way cats slip off railings, twirl from branches, or zip out from under cars, usually with nary a scratch to show? Read on for some little-known factoids about what makes cat reflexes death-defyingly fast.

1. Right Paw, Left Paw

cat waving its paw in the air

Because cats sport Muhammad Ali-esque reaction times, you might assume that all cats are ambidextrous. Actually, your tabby or Manx is likely either right-pawed or left-pawed. According to some studies, 50% of cats favor their right paw, 40% their left paw, while only 10% are ambidextrous. Researchers have also found that female cats (and dogs) tend to be right-pawed while their male counterparts are left-pawed. But no matter their gender, cats get a lot of their sense of balance from which paw they put forth first – a sense of balance that’s among the best in the animal kingdom.

2. Uncanny Flexibility

flexible cat

In addition to having superb balance, cats are also mind-bendingly flexible. The secret is in their spines. Extremely elastic discs that cushion the spaces between the vertebrae of their spines allow cats to rotate as much as 180 degrees right or left. (By comparison, humans can only turn about 90 degrees each way.) Kittens generally master the righting reflex – the ability to right themselves midair – at 7 weeks old. They rely on the vestibular apparatus in their inner ear to orient themselves so that they can turn and face downward even in free-fall. Make no mistakes: Cats are not invincible. They can be injured in falls. But studies have shown that they're able to perform twist-to-land maneuvers in as little space as 12-inch drops.

3. Feline Fleetness 

cat jumping off counter

Anyone who’s lived with cats knows that they’re spry and nimble, yes – but also astonishingly lazy. On average, cats sleep for about 15 hours per day. (And often clock a 20-hour nap within a 24-hour time frame.) Cats zonk out so much because they’re natural hunters. While cats do dream and experience REM cycles, they sleep lightly, ready to pounce the instant they're awake. When they are up, a house cat can hit top speeds of 30 mph – 3 mph faster than Olympian Usain Bolt’s average speed.

Watching your cat knead its paws as its basks in a slant of light, you’re probably inclined to think it’s adorable, and you’re right. But the reason it has such insane reflexes is because it’s perhaps nature’s perfect predator. We’re talking about a creature that can jump nine times its height from a standing start. (That would be like a 6-foot man springing atop a 54-foot building from the sidewalk at a whim.) Lucky for us, your house-cat is probably only 9 inches tall and stalks mice and voles rather than, you know, you. So, cuddle up with it, and fear not! If it falls off the bed, it’s likely to trade in one of those many lives so that it can nuzzle you the rest of the night.
Have you ever seen your cat show off its insane feline reflexes? Share your story in the comments section at the end of this article.

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Cat Next To Ship

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Remember that rhyme you used to sing in your head to answer questions on your history test?

In fourteen-hundred-ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue…

Yeah, us too!

Columbus Day is October 8th, and it’s all about the discovery of the Americas by Ferdinand and Isabella's darling, Christopher Columbus.

But did you know that our precious feline friends also have a history of sea voyages with the famous explorer?

Columbus’s Big Day

Christopher Columbus

www.thoughtco.com

Columbus Day is a federal holiday that kids and adults revel in as a much-needed day off. But what is Columbus Day really all about?

You probably know that Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas on accident. In fact, he was actually aiming for a shortcut to Asia and instead became the first European to explore the Americas since the Vikings stumbled upon our now-homeland way back in the 10th century.

Good ol’ Chris made three journeys across the Atlantic before he realized it was a new land – then, click! (That’s a forehead-slap moment if we’ve ever heard of one.)

This happy accident was celebrated officially for the first time in 1792 by New York’s Columbian Order. Later, President Benjamin Harrison encouraged celebrating Columbus Day in 1892 to celebrate the 400th anniversary but still did not declare it a federal holiday. He suggested using the day to “cease from toil and devote themselves to exercises that express honor to the four centuries of American achievements.”

Basically: have fun and celebrate being American.

Finally, in 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt officially proclaimed Columbus Day a national holiday.

You’ll find banks, post offices, and schools closed on Columbus Day and celebrations in many cities throughout the United States.

Which Came First: Cats or Columbus?

Cat on boat

http://catnips.co.uk

While we can’t imagine life without our furry companions today, there were no domesticated cats in the Americas before Columbus sailed the ocean blue. While there were wild cats such as panthers and mountain lions, none were domesticated and they would never be named Fluffy.

So, how’d they get here and become the master of men and women alike?

Cats and their humans have coexisted for thousands of years. In fact, as soon as we stopped hunting and gathering and started small villages, our furry friends realized they could be a benefit to us. Since Kitty chased the rodents that eat the grain that humans need to survive, it became a match made in heaven that has spanned over 8,000 years.

All Aboard!

Traveling over long distances via ships was the only way to get from Europe to the Americas back in the days of Columbus. That meant food and drinks needed to be kept fresh, without refrigeration, for months at a time. Grains and oats were the go-to for such long journeys since they could be stored in barrels and were easy to cook – just add water!

However, as you can imagine, rodents took this opportunity to infest ships and get into all that delicious grain.

Enter: Fluffy.

Cats were kept on ships to chase and destroy any rodent who threatened the food supply. It was a win-win since the cats were fed with the rodents and the humans got to eat their stored grain.

In fact, cats did their jobs so well that they were considered part of the crew and became incredibly valuable as long voyages across the ocean became the norm for Europeans.

While the look and behavior of these first kitties to land on American soil has changed quite a bit, they still maintain some of their more adorable wild qualities.

Columbus Day & Cats

Sailor Cat

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Cats were an important part of Christopher Columbus’ crew. Without Fluffy to hunt the rodents and protect the food supply, those aboard would have either starved or been made sick by diseases carried on board by rodents.

Because our feline friends are so industrious, they leaped at the opportunity to explore a new world right along with their human masters. As Europeans settled throughout North and South America, cats were introduced to more and more land, new types of rodents (yum!), and different environments that helped to create our beloved best friends as they are today.

As you celebrate Columbus Day in 2018 give a little nod to those brave and fearless feline friends that made the journey across the ocean blue with Christopher Columbus way back in 1492.

Tag us in a pic of your darling explorer doing what they love best on Columbus Day on Instagram @PrettyLitterCats

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Scottish Fold Cat

Is the cat your spirit animal? The cat plays a vital role in mythology, religion and legend around the world. Ancient texts and artwork prove the power and persistence of the cat in the minds and hearts of people. Simply put, since ancient days we have loved cats and included them in our worship. In fact, cat worship, revering the cat as a god, has been practiced for thousands of years.

Ancient Times, Egyptian Theology and Cats

Cats in Ancient Egypt

The people of ancient Egypt worshiped the cat god, Bastet, as one of their highest deities. Bastet, also known as Bast, is associated with the Goddess Isis. Isis is often depicted as a female goddess accompanied by black cats. According to famed Tarot artist and tarot historian, A. E. Waite, it is the goddess Isis that we see depicted on the High Priestess card of the tarot deck and his book The Key to the Tarot (1911).

Bast, the ancient Egyptian cat goddess, is mother of all queens- mother of all mothers- mother of all people. She is known as a female child of Ra, first born of Ra- Ra is a god that includes both genders and is therefore, not considered a ‘he’ or a ‘she’ in contemporary conversation. Ra is all; Ra is both father and mother of all. Ra is also known as the god of all gods. Ra’s worshipers are known by the sun emblem. To ancient Egypt, the appearance of the sun each morning was physical proof that Ra lived and walked among them.

As first mother of all, Bast, the cat goddess of ancient Egypt had a very powerful role in the religion that was popular in what was called Babylon at the time. In many ways, via Ra’s daughter, the religion of Egypt was, in fact, a religion of the cats.

Cat Superstition and Fears in Folklore and Myth

Black Cat

Do you dare to let a black cat cross your path? Careful! He might be a witch's familiar, or even a shape changing witch or warlock. Cat mythology is filled with tales of fears about cats.

Folk tales warn of the dangerous and malicious power of the cat. These tales of cats bringing illness, death and bad luck have been popular for centuries and still persist in our time. According to experts, including National Geographic, it is extremely difficult to trace the roots of the types of beliefs that we call ‘superstitions.’ They are partly defined by the fact that we can’t trace the beliefs to any actual events.

Animal rescue specialists claim that superstitions based on the false belief that bad luck might happen if you own, or even see a black cat, have led to less opportunities for timely pet adoption for cats that are black in all cat breeds.

Cat Celebration and Cat Worship Today

Cats Musical
Cat lovers do unite around the world to praise and to pamper their beloved feline friends. In fact, temples are in use today throughout Japan that are dedicated to a cat god, so and so. Fishermen especially visit these temples as shrines, as so and so is known to be the patron god of bountiful fishing. 
The Andrew Lloyd Webber Broadway musical Cats, is still an award winning, record breaking blockbuster. Cats is inspired by the poetry of T.S. Eliot entitled Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (1939).. 
In addition to the show Cats, we also have the State, National and International Cat Shows, and many organizations dedicated to preserving knowledge about the history of cats and devoted to celebrating their domestication. 

 

What's you favorite cat fact from history? Tell us in the comments!

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