What Do Cats and Flies Have In Common?
Cats and Flies. An odd pairing indeed. What do they have in common? The answer to this question is simple: useful hair. Your own hair can be useful. It can keep you warm, protect you from sunburn and, yes, show the world your style. But the hair on cats and flies can save their lives.
Have you ever watched a cat stalking something in grass? You strain to see what they’re after, but you can’t. The cat might not be able to see it either. What tells a cat that something is skittering around in the grass is its hair. Cat hair is extremely sensitive. When a mouse of beetle moves through the grass, it disturbs air. Cat’s hair is able to detect that movement.
Even tiny changes in air pressure can be felt by cat hair, pointing the animal toward a potential snack. The hair also alerts them to predators sneaking up behind them, helping keep the kitty alive.
That same special hair ability tells flies when someone is trying to swat them. When you swing a swatter towards a fly, the swatter compresses the air between it and the insect. The fly’s hairs can feel the air pressure changes overhead and has time to take off before the swatter comes down.
Cats and flies have something else in common: useful foot pads.
The pads on the bottom of a cat’s paws are very sensitive, able to detect temperature, pressure and even vibrations, giving the feline yet another tool for staying alive.
Fly foot pads perform valuable work, too, but again, the main reason is hair. Flies have hair on their legs.
They also have hair on their foot pads that produce a form of glue made of sugar and oil. This glue helps them land and walk on walls and ceilings. It also means that flies leave tiny, sticky little footprints on anything those foot pads touch, like counters and people.
This glue can hold diseases that stay behind after the fly has swooped away, which is why flies are known as health hazards.
Cats can carry disease on their pads, too, but at least they don’t make glue.
Cats and flies are incredibly different, belong to different animal categories. Still, they share the biological advantage of having useful hair. That hair, with its sensitivity to air pressure, means that when your kitten is trying to catch a fly, the fight will be even.