It's International Cat Day! Do cats recognise their owners? Do cats laugh? 5 weird facts you might not know

8 August 2018, 14:21

cat, kitten, cuddle

It's that time of year where we celebrate our furry feline friends with International Cat Day. But how much do you know about cats really? Can cats laugh and do they know their name? We answer all your questions.

International Cat Day is a special day of the year where cat lovers everywhere can show a little appreciation for their beloved pets.

Ever since it was created by the International Fund for Animal Welfare in 2002, cat lovers have embraced the opportunity to show some love with cat selfies on social, or just an excuse to shower their furry feline with extra cuddles.

In celebration of the big day, we've answered some of your frequently asked questions about cats and there are some facts that might just surprise you!

Read more: International Cat Day 2018: The woman who saved thousands of street cats 

Kitten, cat, sleep

Why do cats purr? 

Cats purr when they are both happy and distressed, and research has shown its not only a method of communication but also a defence tool to help them keep calm in stressful situations such as giving birth or visiting the vet.

What's more, because cats are born deaf and blind, they rely on the vibrations of their mother's purr to communicate.

The low frequency of the vibrations in a cat's purring can also help them ease breathing, build muscle, and can act as a pain relief. 

However, adult cats only meow to humans, not to each other, probably because their mothers stopped responding once they were weaned.

Do cats know their name?

Cats do know their names, however, this doesn't mean they will always respond to their name. Cats haven't been domesticated for as long as dogs have, so they don't feel the need to respond to their names as often.

Do cats laugh? 

Cats can't physically laugh, but they do have their own way of letting us know they are enjoying something. The closet sound of joy you may get from a happy cat is purring, which some people like to perceive as laughter. 

Do cats smile? 

Cats do not know how to smile but there are some feline equivalents that let an owner know they are happy or content.  

A slow blink, in which they close their eyes slowly, especially when being stroked on the head or under the chin, will signal they are relaxed and happy. 

In addition to purring, other indications include: 

Ears moving forward, which is a clear sign of feline bliss. 

Tails that point downwards show the cat is relaxed and is similar to a cat smiling with her whole body.

A belly that is exposed is the sign of a cat who really trusts that you won't harm her and is normally up for you giving her tummy a rub.

Do cats recognise their owners? 

Unlike dogs, cats joined society of their own free will, so they never needed to understand human gestures and expressions in the same way they did.  

As a result, cats might not have the same understanding of human faces, however, they most likely recognise other communicative gestures like touch and sound. 

On the other hand, a 2013 study by scientists at the University of Tokyo found that cats can tell recordings of their owners' voices apart from strangers' voices.  

Throughout the experiment, cats mostly ignored the recordings of strangers calling their names but twitched their ears to listen more closely to their owners' voices.