What sweeter gift is there than being chosen by a cat? These mysterious, free-spirited felines have long dazzled humanity since time immemorial. They've been worshipped as gods, written in as mayors, and have had thousands of memes made about them.

Today, we celebrate the half of a billion cats roaming among us. Here are four fun cat facts you should remember while observing this holiday.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare created International Cat Day.

International Cat Day started in the year 2002. It was created to shed light on the various forms of cat abuse and raise awareness on ways to help and protect them. This year's theme is "Cat-friendly resources." Take the chance to donate to your local animal shelter or adopt a stray cat to commemorate this August 8.

There are 12.2 million cats living in U.K. households.

Cats are one of Britain's most popular pets. In a survey this year, around 27% of U.K. households were recorded to own at least one cat, but an estimated nine million are homeless. The majority of these cats had homes before but have long since been abandoned or have become lost.

Cat owners are invited to neuter their pets once they turn four months old, not only to help decrease pet overpopulation, but neutered cats are also less likely to stray from home and may become more affectionate.

Cats cannot taste sweetness.

If you're thinking of treating your furry pal to cake or ice cream for today's celebration, maybe choose to give them their favourite treat or special catnip instead. Cats are the only mammals who lack the taste receptor for sweetness and typically prefer meaty and wet food over dry kibble.

Most cats are lactose-intolerant.

Cartoon cats are regularly shown to love drinking milk. Well-known cat figures like Tom from "Tom and Jerry" and Puss in Boots from "Shrek" are depicted to drink milk as a treat for them. But in real life, you should never give your cat cow's milk.

When cats are weaned from drinking their mother's milk, they lose their ability to digest lactose. Milk isn't a part of a cat's nutrition, and giving your pet milk cause significant health issues. While some adult cats are exceptions to this since they can process milk, it may be best to purchase a lactose-free equivalent or give them bone broth instead.

black cat
Black cats are less likely to be adopted as they look worse in selfies. Pixabay