PBS Nature Explains Why Your Cat is So Cool

In recent years, cats have been most notable for their presence on the internet. Simply google the word “cat” and pick your preferred medium: video, images or text and you will not be disappointed.

Recent “cat” search results include:

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The thing is, while domestic cats are “where it’s at” — according to this Google search anyway — they certainly aren’t the only kind of cat out there. What about their feline relatives?

Enter: NATURE “The Story of Cats.” This two-part series takes us far beyond a Google search, deep into Asia, Africa and the Americas to get an in-depth look at the world’s greatest predator since the dinosaurs. (Yes, you read that correctly. You kind of have a dinosaur-like creature living with you.)

Part one starts in Asia where we meet the most ancient cat alive today, the clouded leopard. These creatures are stunning and, sadly, an endangered species so rare, little is known about them. However, they do have a few things in common with your furry roommate — sharp canine teeth, heightened senses and excellent agility. (Maybe not so much that last one for some of you…)

WARNING: Adorable belly rubs. Do not try this at home.

The first episode continues to explain how cats spread all throughout Asia and then conquered Africa, no small feat considering the vastness and terrain of those lands. Can we say “evolution at its finest”?

I won’t give it all away, but “The Story of Cats” is a brain builder. So many facts and so many cats.  Here’s a sampling of what you’ll learn and who you’ll meet along the way:

– Clouded leopards use whiskers to help navigate around treetops that are sensitive to wind speed, air pressure and touch.

– Cats’ sense of smell is about 14 times more sensitive than that of humans and they use smells to communicate. Example: Cat #1: “Hey, are you coming over tonight?” Cat #2: “No. Didn’t you get my scent?”

– Scent glands are all over cats’ bodies and paws, rubbing them releases powerful pheromones that warns other animals to stay away.

– Cats’ markings are more than fur deep, they are actually tattooed on their skin!

– There is a cat in Sri Lanka called the fishing cat and they don’t just eat fish.

– Fishing cats use their whiskers to detect which direction prey is moving in the water.

– Bengal tigers hunt animals up to 1,000 pounds and eat 80 pounds per day. (Whoa!) They hide their food to keep it from scavengers, sometimes hiding it in water or burying it.

– Snow leopards’ long tails not only help them with balance. The cats also use their tails as scarves because it’s cold and possibly because they are fashionable.

– Pallas’s cats (resemble your modern day Grumpy Cat) are the size of house cats but survive in the extremest of habitats, in elevations miles high.

And that’s only part one! While you’re probably still convinced your cat is still the coolest, we think you’ll enjoy learning about how he/she got to be that way.

Watch NATURE “The Story of Cats” on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 8/7 CT on your local PBS station or streaming online at PBS.org/nature following the broadcast. 

Maribel Lopez

Maribel is a lifelong public media fan and as director of Rewire, oversees the site’s strategy and operations. When she isn’t catching up on the latest digital publishing trends, she enjoys traveling, flamenco dancing and going on adventures with her doggos.