Millions of us have pets in our family, but how much do we really know about our four-legged friends? These curious facts about pets show there is a lot more to them after all.
Believe it or not, but it’s thought that 68% of houses in America owned a pet between 2017 and 2018. That’s a lot of animals. It seems as though we can't get enough of adding furry, feathery or scaly friends to the family. It’s believed that freshwater fish are still the most popular pet across the nation with cats taking second place and dogs coming in at number three on the list. It looks as though welcoming pets into our lives is a trend that’s here to stay.
It turns out that millennials are favoring dogs more and more over having children, as many admit to buying larger houses or homes with a yard to make sure that their furry friend has everything they need, but just how well do we know our four-legged friends? It turns out that these curious facts about pets show us there’s a lot more to our beloved animals than first meets the eye. Yes, our pets really are as impressive as many of us love to believe.
Cats meow to talk to us
It can be normal to hear kittens meowing to one another and their mother. This is their way of making sure they get what they need. However, adult cats typically won’t meow at one another as they ditch the habit as soon as they are fully grown.
That is until they see their owners. Cats are incredibly smart pets who have learned that they can’t communicate to humans the same way that they talk to other four-legged friends. Instead, they use meows to tell us how they are feeling or what they want. Cats will even use a different tone of voice, depending on what they want to say.
Rats can laugh when they’re tickled
Have you ever been tickled and found yourself laughing uncontrollably, even though it’s usually anything less than funny? It turns out that we might not be alone. Rats have also been known to laugh when they are tickled - but only when they are feeling in a good mood.
Research has shown that our rats feel so happy that they can’t help but let out a laugh when they are enjoying playtime with their owners. As if that wasn’t enough, some rats can become so happy that they will jump around in the air and chase their owners as they try to get them to play.
Dogs can smell certain illnesses
Humans have used dogs' sense of smell for many things, and now they could be joining doctors, too. Amazingly, a dog’s sense of smell could be anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 times better than ours. Now, it seems as though our four-legged friends can even smell out certain illnesses.
Breast and prostate cancer, and diabetes are some of the illnesses that dogs have been trained to detect so far, with some even learning how to tell if someone is going to have a seizure. However, researchers are also working on training dogs on how to sniff out Parkinson’s and malaria.
A cat’s brain is 90% similar to ours
Although a cat’s brain is a lot smaller than ours, it turns out they have a lot of power packed into their head. Cats have learned how to fend for themselves, meaning their brain is now highly developed and apparently very similar to ours.
Cats share many of the same regions of our brains that are all connected in the same way, but that’s not all. Our furry friends also use the same patterns to think thanks to the similar neurotransmitters. As if that wasn’t enough, cats have five senses and know how to process the difference between them all, as well as having both short and long-term memory.
Dogs curl up to sleep thanks to instinct
Although dogs have been domesticated for many years, it appears as though they just can’t shake some of those natural instincts. One of the many is the fact that our four-legged friends will curl up before they head off to sleep. Many owners believe this is a dog’s way of getting comfortable.
However, it’s actually thanks to their time in the wild. Dogs used to dig nests and curl up into them to make sure they were kept warm. Plus, sleeping in this position means that their most vulnerable organs are kept safe from any predators that might be looking for an opportunity.
Goats can have accents
It was once believed that only humans, dolphins, and elephants could develop accents from their surroundings. Others are thought to learn theirs thanks to genetics. However, that has since changed. It turns out that goats could also learn their accents from their surroundings and others around them.
It’s believed that goats who are related to one another will share similar voices as soon as they are born. However, goats can change their accents when they are in other social situations as they learn how to develop new voices. This revelation means that other animals might be able to create new accents, too.
Male puppies let females win
Many of us have watched puppies race around the yard as they play fight with one another. However, it turns out that it might not be such a dog eat dog world after all. That’s all thanks to male puppies often letting females win when they play.
It’s believed that the youngsters will deliberately put themselves in more vulnerable positions because playing is a lot more important to them than winning the fight. Still not enough? Research has shown that males will bow to females as they often ask them if they want to play before pouncing on their sibling.
Cows have best friends
Could you imagine spending a day in the field without your best friend? It turns out that cows feel the same way. Research shows that when cows are penned with their best friend, their heart rate is much lower and they experience a lot less stress compared to when they are penned with a cow they have never met before.
Amazingly, there are also more benefits. Cows are even smarter when they have their best friend by their side. It’s believed they form these friendships as they grow up together in the same herd with the benefits lasting a lifetime.
Russian dogs have learned how to ride the subway
The Russian subway system can be enough to confuse the best of us. However, that hasn’t stopped stray dogs throughout Moscow learning how to ride the system - and take advantage of their trip across the city. It’s thought that up to 35,000 stray dogs live in the capital alone, but many have learned from one another.
It turns out they have adapted to the loud noise and the crowds of the Metro as they ride across the city. Why? These canines have figured out what stops give them the most food and how to keep out of the cold.
Rabbits like to keep clean
There is a lot more to the life of a rabbit than first meets the eye. These wonderful pets have learned a particular way to make sure they can keep up with their high hygiene standards all on their own. Many will clap their front paws together before they start to clean themselves.
This is to make sure they don’t have any dirt on their feet. Once they are clean, rabbits will lick their paws and use them to clean around their face. Finally, many will karate chop their arms out to make sure they fling any excess hair off of their feet.
Cats can sleep for 12 to 16 hours a day
If you feel like you could sleep for up to 80% of the day, then it turns out you could have more in common with a cat than you ever believed. That’s right; our furry friends sleep anywhere between 12 and 16 hours a day. This means they could spend double the amount of time asleep as us humans, and typically snooze longer than any other mammals, but why?
That’s because they have very few natural predators so therefore don’t have much to worry about. Plus, having enough rest means that cats are always on the top of their game - and ready to pounce on the next passing meal.
Horses look like they’re smiling to detect smells
Horses can sometimes be spotted with their top lip curled back, and their head held high to the sky. It can often look as though they’re smiling, but there is a good reason they are pulling this funny face. It’s known as flehmen.
This means they are using their top lip to keep a particular smell in their nostrils to transfer them to the vomeronasal organs where the scent can be properly analyzed. Just like many other animals, horses release a host of pheromones that might be too delicate to be detected by our noses. However, horses have more sensitive receptors to help them communicate.
Dogs can fake illnesses
Our dogs can be highly intelligent creatures who know what they want - and might do anything to get it. Many of us will do anything for our pets. This means giving them extra attention when they are sick and making sure they get their favorite things until they get better.
Some dogs have learned how to use this to their advantage. Yes, they really can fake an illness just to make sure they get more fuss and love from their owners. However, it’s still best to have any symptoms checked out by a professional before working on training methods to stop those fakers in their tracks.
Rabbits show us they are happy
Although animals can’t tell us what they need with words, they have become masters of using their body language to communicate with their owners. If you see your bunny flicking its head and jumping around in the air, then there’s no need to worry.
They’re not sick - they’re actually trying to tell you that they are loving life! The move is called a 'binky' and is a rabbit’s way of showing others they are feeling on top of the world. Some rabbits love to binky all the time, while others might only jump around when they get their favorite treat.
Chicks in eggs can communicate with their mothers
Chickens are great at communicating. In fact, they like to talk so much that they can communicate with their mothers before they have even hatched. Mother chickens will speak to their chicks through the shell, and they can chirp back in response. This means that the young ones already recognize their mother’s voice before they enter the world.
These talkative birds have 24 vocalizations that they use to communicate all kinds of messages, such as telling their mom they’re comfortable or if there is any danger. Every noise a chicken makes has a different meaning, with many chicks understanding them all already.
A horse’s head is more teeth than brain
One of the ways to tell the difference between a female and male horse is by the number of teeth. Females usually have 36 teeth, while males tend to have 40 teeth. However, they have had to learn to adapt to the changing landscape over the years, meaning their teeth are now very different from their ancestors’.
Now, they spend most of their time eating grass and foraging through hedgerows. All of that food means they need a lot of teeth. So many, in fact, that more of their head is made up of teeth than it is their brain.
Owning a cat can help your health
There are many benefits to having a pet cat, but now it seems as though they could have a significant effect on our health, too. This is all thanks to the anxiety and stress relief that they help many owners to feel. In turn, this then helps cat owners to have lower blood pressure and reduced heart rate, which both help to prevent many heart illnesses.
The results? Owning a cat could be enough to reduce our risk of having a stroke or heart attack by up to a third compared to people without a feline friend in their life.
Dogs can get jealous of others
Many owners wonder if their dogs get jealous when they pay attention to another animal. It seems as though we could have an answer, and many researchers believe dogs will be envious of others. There have been many debates about whether animals can feel jealousy, but it seems as though they have finally proved their point once and for all.
It’s shown that dogs are more likely to push at their owners or even snap at others when someone is showing someone or something else more affection. To top it off, some canines will start showing off to get the attention.
Cows make more milk to music
Sometimes, there can be nothing more relaxing than kicking back with a good tune. Cows certainly seem to feel the same way. Studies have shown that cows feel more relaxed and at peace when listening to certain types of music, and will produce more milk as a result.
It’s believed that cows find it easier to get rid of stress when there is certain music. Techno and rap songs had no effect, while soothing music saw milk production increased by 3%. One research team showed that Everybody Hurts by REM was the most successful song to increase the amount of milk from the cows.
Dogs have a sense of time
Many of us have spent years wondering if our dogs can tell the time, and it turns out the answer is yes. However, it turns out they perceive time a little differently to us. Our dogs can’t tell the difference between two and four hours, but they do know when they should be getting their dinner or heading out for a walk.
This is all thanks to their circadian rhythm that keeps track of their sleep-wake cycle as they use the change in the light and dark throughout the day. Plus, some have learned how to use the position of the sun in the sky to help.
Cats can rotate their ears up to 180 degrees
Amazingly, cats have an incredible 32 muscles in each of their ears. Us humans? We have just six. Our feline friends use these muscles to help move their ears around as they listen to various sounds and communicate with other animals.
To top it off, it turns out that cats can physically move their ears 180 degrees on their head. However, it turns out there is more to our cats’ ears than meets the eye. They also use them to stay balanced, which is one of the ways they can tell which way is up - and land on their feet almost every time.
A rabbit’s teeth will never stop growing
Just like us, a rabbit's nails never stop growing and often need regular trimming to make sure they never grow too long. However, it turns out their teeth are continually growing, too. Rabbits use their teeth to munch on all kinds of things as their diet consists of a combination of vegetation and other hard ingredients, such as twigs and hay.
Rabbits will eat a lot throughout the day and naturally keep their teeth in shape in the wild thanks to their constant grazing. Domestic rabbits often need wooden blocks or toys to make sure they are kept neat and tidy.
Dogs can smell it when we’re afraid
Dogs have become known for their incredible sense of smell. Many people have often believed they can smell fear, but could that be true? Kind of. While dogs can’t smell the emotion itself, they can detect changes in us that show we are scared.
One of the main signs that we are feeling fearful is we begin to sweat. A dog’s nose is so sensitive that they can detect our perspiration. That’s not all. Our bodies also release adrenaline as our bodies decide whether to fight or run. Amazingly, this chemical change releases a smell that our dogs can sense.
A dog’s nose print is unique to each dog
Humans have fingerprints, and each one is unique to each person. This is why we can be identified through our fingerprints alone. Would you believe that dogs' nose prints are just the same? That’s right; the Canadian Kennel Club have been using the prints as a way to identify dogs since way back in 1938.
All of those lines and bumps on their noses will be varied on each pooch. This means that if a dog has had its nose print taken, then it can be a way to identify them in case they get lost and don’t have any identification tags or a microchip.
Male cats are usually right-pawed while females are left-pawed
Many of us have a dominant hand that we discover when we’re toddlers learning to write and play. However, it turns out that cats have dominant paws - and they vary between males and females. In fact, all animals have a preferred foot they will use when it comes to playing, digging, or cleaning themselves.
There could be a reason for the difference. Cats using their left paws rely on the right hemisphere of their brain, which means they don’t cope as well with stress and can be more aggressive. Right-pawed animals use their left-hemisphere and can be better at processing.
Stroking a dog can help your blood pressure
Some of us love to find new ways to improve our health. What if we told you that all it could take is to stroke a dog? Yes, studies have shown that petting your pooch for just 15 minutes could lower your blood pressure by up to 10%.
It’s believed that the calming motion is enough to reduce our levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, while also releasing all those feel-good hormones, prolactin and oxytocin. As if that wasn’t enough, all of these effects could last for many hours after you’ve finished having a little bonding time with your pet.
Rabbit show jumping is a thing
We might be used to seeing horses ping their way around a show jumping course, but rabbits? Yes, you read that correctly. Rabbit show jumping has grown to become a popular sport around the world. The sport, known as Kaninhop, started back in Sweden in the 1980s.
However, competitions now take place across the planet. The rules vary in each country, but the usual gist is that rabbits will earn more points for the higher they clear each jump. Plus, some competitions feature high-jump contests while others contain a long-jump portion, too. The courses are just like the larger thing but have been scaled down to rabbit height.