Eight Cat Myths Debunked
Cats have held our fascination for hundreds, and arguably, thousands of years. Even the most powerful of ancient civilizations, namely the Egyptians, put them on pedestals and revered them. So it's no wonder that over the years, myths have emerged about our feline friends and persist even to this day. Here, we set the record straight.
Myth: Cats always land on their feet.
Truth: While cats have the ability to twist their body in a fall in such a way as to increase their chance of landing on their feet, they aren't always successful. They also need to drop from a minimum height in order to perform this twist. Lastly, falling from a height can still lead to injuries even if they land on their feet.
Myth: Cats hate water.
Truth: What cats really hate is being forced to do something they don't like. Cats, if exposed to water from an early age, can learn to become quite comfortable with it. Some can even learn to swim and make their way to safety. In addition, cats can be drawn to the sound of running water and even drink from a running tap. It is true that a spray bottle can be used to train most house cats to stay off the couch.
Myth: Cats love milk.
Truth: While you may see a cat drinking milk, they are probably doing it because they are very hungry. Just like other mammals, cats are not designed to consume milk after a certain age and are certainly not designed to consume milk from another mammal such as a cow. Cats don't have the right enzymes to digest milk and so it can cause them intestinal stress. If you do feed a cat milk, expect some digestion problems and maybe even vomiting. In addition, other types of “milk”, such as soy or almond milk can be even more harmful to them.
Myth: Cats have nine lives.
Truth: Obviously this is nonsense. It's just something that has been passed on from generation to generation. If there was any truth to this, people wouldn't worry about letting their cats out of the house. Please, don't test this myth, you will seriously hurt your cat.
Myth: Declawing does not harm them.
Truth: Declawing involves cutting off part of the bone from their phalanges, the equivalent of our finger tips. It is a very painful procedure that causes permanent disability. In many countries this procedure is illegal and any respectable veterinarian will refuse to perform the procedure. If a cat's nails are an issue, trimming them is a much better option.
Myth: Cats are very antisocial.
Truth: Just like other animals, cats each have different personalities. You will find cats that are antisocial just as you will find dogs that are antisocial. If you treat your cat with love and play with them regularly, they will most likely be very affectionate. It might be more accurate to say that cats can be temperamental, but aren't we all like that!?
Myth: Cats are nocturnal.
Truth: This is only partly true. In fact, cats are most active during sunset hours and during sunrise i.e. diurnal. This is when their prey is most active and therefore when they're most likely to succeed at hunting if they lived in the wild.
Myth: Cats are carnivores.
Truth: While cats consume mostly meat, don't be surprised if you see them munching on grass assuming they have access to it. One theory is that the grass helps with digestion. It's usually a good idea to have a bit of fresh, pesticide-free grass in the house and to allow them to chew on it as they wish.
Myth: Cats use their whiskers for balancing.
Truth: Their whiskers have nothing to do with balancing. Cats us their whiskers to assess if they can fit through tight openings. If you cut their whiskers, your cat won't be able to make this judgement and it will affect their navigation. As a side note, balancing is controlled by their nervous system, their eyes, their inner ears, and their tail.
Myth: Black cats crossing your path brings bad luck.
Truth: This is just a superstition. There is no scientific evidence of this and if you believe it you will probably convince yourself that it is true i.e. self-fulfilling prophecy. A related superstition claims that witches can disguise themselves as black cats and roam at night to do evil work. Oddly enough, in some European countries black cats are considered good luck.
Myth: Cats kill birds.
Truth: While it is true that cats are predatory animals and a bird is one creature they like to attack, not all cats will do this, especially house cats which are much more friendly. Many house cats will be curious and try to play with the bird but will not necessarily or intentional harm one.