Fun Facts About Pets to Celebrate National Pet Week


Author: Dr. Clarissa Noureddine, DVM, MS, MS

It’s National Pet Week! We thought our pet owners might enjoy hearing some interesting facts about their furry friends this week. Take a look – you might even learn something new!

  1. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA) National Pet Owner Survey 2017-2108, 68% of U.S. households own a pet (this equates to 84.6 million homes). Breaking the numbers down some, the report shows that 47.1 million households own cats, and 60.2 million households own dogs. A total of 94.2 million cats and 89.7 million dogs are owned in the U.S.
  2. According to the AVMA, the top 10 Pet-Owning States are:
    1. Vermont (70.8%)
    2. New Mexico (67.6%)
    3. South Dakota (65.6%)
    4. Oregon (63.6%)
    5. Maine (62.9%),
    6. Washington (62.7%)
    7. Arkansas (62.4%)
    8. West Virginia (62.1%)
    9. Idaho (62%)
    10. Wyoming (61.8%)
  3. There are 10 million more cats owned in America than dogs (yet cats are less than half as likely to be seen by a veterinarian and receive healthcare). (AVMA)
  4. A cat can jump as much as nine times its height (Cornell Center for Materials Research).
  5. Cats and dogs have sweat glands in their paws (but they cannot cool themselves down efficiently through sweaty feet alone!)
  6. Dog facial expressions are not just an involuntary result of the dog’s emotions. The facial expressions can actually be dependent on the attention state of the person watching. In a study by Kaminski, dogs produced significantly more facial movements when a human was attentive than when the human was not attentive. Furthermore, visibility of food items did not alter the facial movements in the same way.
  7. Who is smarter – cats or dogs? A Japanese study showed cats are as good as dogs at certain memory tests. However, a study out of Vanderbilt (Herculano-Houzel 2017) reported dogs had significantly more cortical neurons (associated with thinking, planning, and complex behaviors) than cats….the debate continues!
  8. The noses of dogs and cats have unique ridge patterns.
  9. Any cat owner can tell you that cats are incredibly flexible. This flexibility can be explained by their vertebrae being flexibly connected, the especially elastic disks between the vertebrae, the shoulder blade only being attached to the body by muscles (not bone), and only having a rudimentary collarbone that is not long and anchored. (Cornell University)
  10. Cats spend approximately 30 to 50% of their day grooming themselves. (Cornell Feline Health Center)
  11. Cats have 26 kitten teeth and 30 adult teeth. Dogs have 28 puppy teeth and 42 adult teeth.
  12. A dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times greater than a human’s. In the book Inside a Dog, author Alexandra Horowitz makes this comparison: While we might notice if our coffee has a teaspoon of sugar, a dog would be able to detect a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water (that’s two Olympic-sized pools!) (PBS)
  13. Have you ever seen a bright reflection in your dog or cat’s eyes at night when light is reflected? You are seeing the tapetum lucidum. This is a thin layer behind the retina that works to reflect visible light back through the retina – thus contributing to the animal’s night vision.
  14. Dogs kick after using the bathroom to mark their territory.  The backward rubbing of the paws causes the glands in the feet to secrete pheromones. (VetStreet)
  15. A dog’s nose secretes a thin layer of mucous to absorb scents. The dog will lick their nose to sample the scent.
  16. Humans hear in the range of 20-25,000 Hertz (Hz). Dogs hear in the range of 67 to 45,000 Hertz. Cats hear in the range of 45 to 64,000 Hertz.  This means that things that may not bother you can cause acoustic stress for pets (e.g. fluorescent light bulbs, light dimmers, TVs, video games, etc.). (VetStreet)