October 29th is National Cat Day. Here are 14 little-known facts about our feline friends (w/video)

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October 29th is National Cat Day, an annual day of awareness to promote feline adoption.

Around 3.4 million cats are in U.S. animal shelters every year, and only 37 percent of them find forever homes.

"Cats have been popular household pets for thousands of years, and their numbers only continue to rise. Today there are three cats for every dog on the planet, and yet cats remain more mysterious, even to their most adoring owners," says John Bradshaw, the author of Cat Sense, on the book’s website.

Cats have gotten a bad reputation as finicky, not affectionate loners. But is that reputation deserved? We did some hunting and came up with these little-known facts about our furry feline friends:

• A group of cats is referred to as a clowder or a glaring. A group of kittens is called a kindle.

• A male cat is called a tom, an unaltered female a queen, and a juvenile cat a kitten.

• The average lifespan of pet cats has risen since the early 1980s from about 7 years to 12–15 years in 2014.

• Spaying or neutering cats increases life expectancy: one study found neutered male cats live twice as long and spayed female cats live 62% longer.

• Cats have excellent hearing and can hear higher-pitched sounds than either dogs or humans.

• A cat’s whiskers — or vibrissae, stiff hair follicles loaded with nerves at the root — are used to determine whether they can fit through a space.

• Cats do not have collarbones, which allows them to fit through spaces the size of their heads.

• Cats’ food temperature preference is around 100 °F which is similar to that of a fresh kill. They often reject cold food because it signals that the "prey" is long dead.

• Cats conserve energy by sleeping between 12 and 16 hours a day. The term "cat nap" refers to the cat’s tendency to fall asleep (lightly) for a brief period.

• Cats spend up to 50 percent of their day grooming themselves.

• Cats sweat through their paws — and sometimes when they get very hot, they pant.

• Cats often purr when they’re content, but they also purr when they’re sick, stressed, hurt or giving birth.

• One in 200 cats is believed to have asthma. Indoor kitties are especially at risk, as they’re more frequently exposed to cigarette smoke, dust, human dandruff and pollen.

• Cats have a fantastic sense of balance. If they sense they’re plummeting downwards, they twist their flexible backbones mid-air, allowing them to right themselves and land on all fours.

We know the cat mystery will never be totally solved, but hopefully these facts helped.

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