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PARKERSBURG — Cat lovers would probably say every day with kitty is a special day. Cats, undoubtedly, agree with that—especially Garfield, the fat, lazy, but loveable cat who appears in one of the most popular comic strips in the U.S. Cats—those furry, cuddly, independent critters who can make every sunbeam a place to take a nap, every couch a potential scratching post, and every leg something to rub against—don’t really need to be spoiled, they spoil themselves. But, we do spoil them. In fact, in the United States there are more than 88 million cats living pampered lives with people. Only freshwater fish exceed the number of cats as pets. Dogs come in a distant third with 74 million. However, there are more homes with dogs, but the homeowners usually have only one dog, while homes with cats have more than one kitty. Cats are members of the Felidae family. While the domestic cat is the most well-known member of the Felidae family, it also includes the wild cats, such as lions, tigers and leopards. Scientists believe cats became domesticated nearly 10,000 years ago. It has long been believed this happened with the Egyptians, because so much of their culture and art involved cats. However, recently there have been archeological finds that have led historians to believe there may have been domesticated cats as early as 7500 BC). A genetic study in 2007 concluded that domestic cats are descended from African wildcats. However long they have been pets, the cat’s popularity doesn’t seem to be waning. Why do we love cats so much? Possibly because even though they are independent, they can be loving companions. While dogs seem much more needy of their humans, cats seem fine on their own. As long as they have food, water and a litter box, it seems they can get along almost by themselves. But when when they give us their attention, they show their love. Here are some fun facts about cats: * There are over 500 million domestic cats in the world. * Cats conserve energy by sleeping for an average of 13 to14 hours a day. * A group of cats is called a clowder, a male cat is called a tom, a female cat is called a molly or queen while young cats are called kittens. * Domestic cats usually weigh around 8 pounds to 11 pounds. * The heaviest domestic cat on record is 46 pounds 15.2 ounces. * Cats have powerful night vision, allowing them to see at light levels six times lower than what a human needs in order to see. * Cats also have excellent hearing and a powerful sense of smell. * Domestic cats love to play, this is especially true with kittens who love to chase toys and play fight. Play fighting among kittens may be a way for them to practice and learn skills for hunting and fighting. * On average cats live for around 12 to 15 years. * Cats spend a large amount of time licking their coats to keep them clean. Most cats live in loving homes with humans who love them. However, too many cats can cause problems. Female cats can breed frequently—sometimes having three or litters per year with between six to 10 kittens per litter. Many of these kittens end up at an animal shelter or, worse, as a homeless and forced to survive on their own as a feral cat. Feral cats can cause many problems. Unless they are captured young kittens born to a feral cat colony will have little chance of becoming domesticated because they are too fearful of people. And since cats can reproduce so often, a feral cat colony can quickly become overpopulated. Because they are so fearful, when a feral cat is brought into an animal shelter, the animal is a higher candidate for euthanasia. Another serious problem with all cats is they kill songbirds. According to a 2013 study, America’s cats, including housecats that adventure outdoors and feral cats, kill between 1.3 billion and 4.0 billion birds in a year. Yes, our cats are lovable and cuddly. And the best way we can return that love to our cats—or dogs, too—is to have them spayed and neutered. This ensures they will not contribute to the overpopulation problem that forces too many loving cats to live in the wild or end up at an animal shelter where they are one of too many other animals without a home.



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