Here at Direct Auto, we love our pets. If you’re anything like us, it’s safe to say every month is National Pet Month – but since the celebration is officially observed every May, we’ve decided to share some fun facts about pets that will make you love your pet even more. (As if you needed another reason to love them!)
Keep reading for fun facts about dogs, cats, and every critter in between – plus, funny animal GIFs that will make you LOL.
1. Dogs can tell time.
OK, so your pup can’t quite look at a clock and tell the time, but they can sense the time.
Humans have constructed artificial measures of time, like seconds, minutes, and hours, and use episodic memory to recall past events and look ahead to future ones. Dogs may not be able to interpret time this way, but that doesn’t mean they’re always living in the present moment.
It’s believed that dogs can be trained to perceive time and anticipate future events based on past experiences. According to research, there may be a canine version of episodic memory.
Canine episodic memory could be the reason why your pup is standing at the door to go for a walk before you even take the leash out, sitting by the window waiting for you to come home from work, or extra excited to see you after a long absence.
2. Cats don’t meow at each other.
Did you know cats don’t actually meow at each other? That’s right – it’s a communication tool reserved exclusively for humans.
According to a Cornell University study, cats are skilled at modifying their vocalizations based on the situation. For example, researchers suggest that the 7 a.m. “feed me” meow is longer and lower in frequency compared to the shorter, equal parts high and low frequency “adopt me” meow.
So, if you’ve ever felt like you understood what your cat was saying, now you know – you really do!
3. Goldfish have a longer life expectancy than you think.
Poor goldfish. They’re known for their ultra-short lifespan, but according to National Geographic, the average life expectancy for a goldfish in the wild is 41 years! They can live up to 10 years on average in captivity, and up to 30 years in a pond.
Some of the oldest goldfish ever recorded came from the United Kingdom. The oldest captive goldfish ever recorded, Tish, was won at a fair in the U.K. in 1956 and died in 1999 at the ripe old goldfish age of 43! Tish beat the record for the previous titleholder Fred, another U.K. goldfish that died in 1980 at age 41. Perhaps the fountain of youth is across the pond.
4. Your dog’s feet really do smell like Fritos.
Ever notice how Fido’s feet smell like Fritos? That signature stink is a byproduct of the natural bacteria found of a dog’s feet: Proteus bacteria, known for producing a sweet, corn tortilla smell, and Pseudomonas bacteria, which give off a slightly sweeter, popcorn-like odor.
These bacteria make their way from soil into the crevices of your pooch’s paws, and the smell is perfectly normal. Sometimes, however, it can indicate infection. If you notice your dog is excessively licking their feet, has greasy paws, or has inflammation in between their toes, you might want to take them to the vet.
5. Dogs lick their feet to help them remember.
While you should be concerned about excessive licking, it’s perfectly normal for your dog to lick their paws. Not only is it your furry friend’s way of self-cleaning, but it’s also a way for them to remember where they’ve been throughout the day. How cute is that?
6. Cat whiskers aren’t just for cuteness.
Why do cats have whiskers? It turns out they don’t just look cute – they serve a purpose!
Your cat’s whiskers (vibrissae) are more deeply embedded in their body than their topcoat. Whiskers contain a sensory organ called a proprioceptor, which is constantly communicating information about their surroundings to their muscular and nervous systems. Cats use their whiskers to judge distance and space, which is why they can jump so gracefully, and they can sense even the slightest change in their environment.
Want to know how your cat is feeling? Just take a look at their whiskers. Are they straight and still? Your cat’s calm, cool, and collected. Pushed forward? Your cat’s curious! Pushed back? You’ve got a scaredy-cat!
Trimming or cutting off your cat’s whiskers is a huge no-no. It’s like putting a blindfold on a human. Without whiskers, your cat will feel disoriented and scared.
7. Hamsters’ cheeks are seriously huge.
Anyone who’s had a pet hamster knows these adorable little rodents can fit an alarming amount of stuff in their chubby cheeks, and there’s an anatomical reason why. The BBC x-rayed a little critter eating for its Pets – Wild at Heart series and found that hamsters’ cheek pouches extend all the way down to their hips!
8. Geckos have superpowered tails.
Did you know there are roughly 1,500 species of geckos? Though their size and shape vary, there are a few things all geckos have in common, like their superpowered tails! A gecko’s tail stores fat that it can use for energy when food is scarce.
But that’s not all: a gecko also has pre-formed score lines in its tail that allow it to snap off as a predator response! Don’t worry – these little critters (like other amphibians) have evolved to regenerate their tails like it never happened.
9. Dogs have unique nose prints.
Just like humans have unique fingerprints, every dog has a unique nose print! According to the Calgary Humane Society, the Canadian Kennel Club has accepted nose prints as a form of dog identification since 1938.
Megvii, an artificial intelligence startup that works with facial recognition software, recently developed software that can identify dogs based on their noses. Using AI-driven pattern recognition, the technology captures and classifies nose print patterns using pics of your pooch’s snout. In the future, we could see nasal recognition technology play a role in urban pet management and pet insurance.
10. Guinea pigs aren’t actually from Guinea.
Guinea pigs are native to the Andean Mountain region in South America. The Incas first domesticated Guinea pigs more than 3,000 years ago. Spanish conquistadors took Guinea pigs from South America to Europe toward the end of the 16th century, where they became popular pets in Elizabethan society.
11. Your dog is staring at you because they love you.
Belly rubs, long walks, and tasty treats – there are a lot of ways we show our dogs how much we love them. But how can you tell if they feel the same way?
Have you ever noticed your dog staring at you? According to dog expert Brian Hare, when your dog stares into your soul eyes, it’s their way of hugging you with their eyes. That’s because when your dog looks at you, the brain hormone oxytocin is released – the same hormone that helps mothers bond with their newborn babies. Oxytocin is released in both dogs and humans when they touch, play, or look into each other’s eyes.
See for yourself: try to maintain eye contact with your furever friend throughout the day and see how they respond!
12. Americans adopt 3.2 million shelter animals every year.
Luckily, fewer animals are entering shelters. According to the ASPCA, 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters every year, down from 7.2 million annually in 2011. The most significant decline was in dogs, down from 3.9 million to 3.3 million. Today, the ASPCA estimates that Americans adopt approximately 3.2 million shelter pets each year. That’s a lot of love!
Share the Pet Love
What do you love most about your pet? Have a funny story to share about your feline, Fido, slithery pal, or scaly friend? Share your story with the Direct Auto community in a comment below.