Cats! Wild to Mild - San Diego Natural History Museum

Fascinating Feline Facts

  • Cats were domesticated house pets more than 4000 years ago.

  • House cats spend about 70 percent of their day sleeping and 15 percent of their day grooming.

  • Cats were brought to North America by colonists to protect their granaries. As settlers moved West, cats went along in covered wagons.

  • One out of every four households in America own at least one cat. There are an estimated 65.8 million cats in the U.S., compared to 54.9 million dogs.

  • House cats spend 10,950.13 hours purring during their lifetime.

  • Roaring and purring are the two best known noises of cats. Four species of cat don't purr at all -- lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars.

  • The cheetah is one of the fastest animals alive, reaching speeds of up to 70 mph. A frightened house cat can run up to 30 mph.

  • Cats have an amazing ability to almost always land on their feet. Most cats can survive a fall of 30 feet or more.

  • The smallest cat is the rusty spotted cat found in India and Sri Lanka. Half the size of a domestic cat, it weighs less than three pounds.

  • The largest cat is the tiger. It can weigh up to 700 pounds and be ten to 11 feet in length (not including a three-foot tail). Tigers are also able to spring on prey from 25 feet or more.

  • Native to every continent on Earth except Australia, the modern domestic cat is a descendant African and European wildcats.

Cats! | Exhibits