***Cats overtook dogs as America's favorite pet in 1987.

***An estimated 54 million cats reside in some 26 million households in the United States, an average of more than two per home and with a household penetration of nearly 30 percent.***There are 36-40 feline species, including the domestic cat.

***Cats were first domesticated by the Egyptians 5,000 years ago and were worshipped by their owners. Upon the death of a cat, family members would shave their eyebrows as a sign of mourning and refuse to touch any food that was in the house at the time of death. The death penalty was applied to anyone who deliberately killed a cat.

***The first cats arrived in the U.S. aboard the Mayflower.

***The average life span of cats is 14 to 18 years, although many live into their 20s and a few into their 30s.

***A 2-year-old cat is approximately the equivalent age of a 24-year-old human. It then ages at the approximate ratio of four cat years for one human year.

***A six-pound cat has a normal heartbeat of 240 beats per minute. This compares with 75 beats per minute for a 145-pound human and 960 beats per minutes for the tiny blue titmouse bird.

***Cats groom their fur more in warm weather than in cold. The evaporation of saliva on the skin helps to keep them cool. Cats also wash in times of crisis - when they are frightened, puzzled, embarrassed. Their temperature rises (just like a person's does when he sweats or blushes) and the licking is an instinctive process for cooling down.

***Although a cat is only 1/15th the size of a human, there are more bones in the cat's body - 230 to a man's 206. Many of these extra bones are in the tail.

***Proverbs such as "All cats are gray in the dark," "When the cat's away, the mice will play,"and "Can the cat help it if the maid is a fool?" are prevalent all over the world and found in one form or another in many languages.

9 signs of illness

***Weight loss

***Vomiting

***Refusal to eat

***Persistent Diarrhea, constipation, blood in stool

***Runny eyes and nose, sneezing

***Constant scratching

***Peculiar behavior, excessive crying, unusually bad temper

***Loss of balance

***Listlessness