The Dangerous Myths Many Cat Owners Believe

Despite the fact that cats are the most popular pet in the USA, and perhaps because of their air of mystery, there are many misconceptions about cats that cause both social and physical problems for these animals.

The following myths aren’t only false some may contribute to ill health for your cat if you believe them!

MYTH: Cats Love Milk

FACT: The image of a cat lovingly lapping up milk from a saucer is rather iconic, but it doesn’t show what happens after the cat is finished, vomiting and diarrhea! The truth is that most cats are lactose-intolerant, and ingesting too much milk will result in an upset stomach at the very least. Even if your cat loves to lap up milk, you shouldn’t let him have it.

MYTH: Cats Always Land on Their Feet

FACT: While cats are usually graceful, flexible, and agile creatures, they don’t always land on their feet. Veterinarians regularly treat fall-related injuries in cats, often when they slip out of open or improperly-screened windows. Shorter falls are usually even more dangerous, because a cat doesn’t have enough time to right himself before impact.

Go through your home and check for dangerous perches or insecure windows that a cat could fall from. Having your cat avoid these areas will prevent any chance of a dangerous accident.

MYTH: All Cats Love Catnip

FACT: Most cats do love catnip, but it’s false that every cat will go crazy over the stuff. In fact, reaction to the herb requires a certain genetic property, inherited from a cat’s parents. So, if your cat doesn’t respond at all to catnip, don’t fear, nothing’s wrong with him! He just doesn’t have the proper gene.

MYTH: Cats Purr When They’re Happy or Content

FACT: This is only partially true. Cats may purr when they’re feeling good, yes,
but purring can also signify a wide variety of other emotions. The truth is, all cats are different, and many may purr to express stress, fear, aggression, or anxiety, as well as contentment or happiness.

MYTH: Pregnant Women Cannot Live With Cats

FACT: This myth has come about because in some rare circumstances directly touching cat litter or cat feces while pregnant then not washing hands afterwards then handling food can cause toxoplasmosis which is harmful to unborn children. This can also be caught from handling raw meat or digging in the garden. 

However, maintaining basic hygiene practices around cat litter is protection from this and there is no harm in petting or stroking your cat as normal. New mothers will naturally be protective of their babies and may worry that the cat could harm or suffocate them. 

While it is wise to introduce sensible precautions, e.g. not leaving a cat unsupervised with a baby until he or she can interact with the cat safely, there is no reason that cats can’t continue to be a member of the family.

MYTH: Cats Are Solitary Animals and Like To Be Home Alone

FACT: Separation can be stressful for cats. Specifically, separation anxiety may manifest in behaviors such as urination and defecation outside of the litterbox, vocalization, vomiting, excessive grooming, lack of appetite, anxiety at departure or an exuberant greeting when you return. 

To keep your cat happy, it is essential to limit their time alone and provide them with stimulation and interaction in the form of play, petting, food toys and perches. If you have an extremely stressed cat, it’s essential to make an appointment with your veterinarian to further address the problem.

MYTH: Cats Should Be Allowed To Have A Litter Of Kittens Before Being Spayed  

FACT: According to a study, more than a third of cat owners believe that a cat should have a litter of kittens before being spayed, but this simply isn’t true.

A cat can get pregnant from as young as four months, while still a kitten herself. Vets and animal welfare charities recommend that cats should be spayed at four months to prevent accidental litters. The study also found that 85% of litters of kittens are unplanned.

MYTH: Cats Have Nine Lives

FACT: While some cat owners may suspect that their curious cats have escaped death by their poise and prowess in fact this is a common myth which has been around centuries, possibly even since Egyptian times. Typically cats live for fourteen years, but many live for much longer.

MYTH: Cats Always Land On Their Feet

FACT: As an active and tree-climbing animal a cat’s survival depends on its ability to survive falls. Cats have a flexible spine and no collarbone allowing them to use their hind legs to right themselves during a fall.

Although cats are capable of landing on their feet this isn’t always the case, at some heights they are unable to righten themselves. More importantly landing on their feet doesn’t always mean they get away unharmed!

MYTH: Cats Are Nocturnal

FACT: Typically most cats are most active at dusk or dawn. Technically this is known as crepuscular, as in the wild this is when prey is most active.

MYTH: Cats Will Suck The Life Out Of A Newborn Baby

FACT: The belief that a cat will suck the air out of a baby’s lungs is an urban legend. There has never been one medically proven incident of this happening. In truth, cats and babies can grow deep bonds and get along well if their interactions are always supervised by adults and behavior concerns are addressed early on.

MYTH: Cats Never Need Special Playtime - They Entertain Themselves

FACT: Cats thrive when they are given daily activities. Sharing playtime with your cat for a few minutes several times a day will cut down on nuisance behavior such as your cat waking you up early in the morning. Many cats even enjoy going out on walks and can be taught to walk on a leash. Throwing a small cat ball and having your cat retrieve it, is a wonderful way for him to get some exercise.

MYTH: Cats Never Get Along With Other Cats

FACT: Cats often enjoy the company of other cats. If you’re adopting a kitten, you’ll fare best adopting multiples from the same litter, which increases their chances of bonding and enjoying each other’s company. Depending on the cat, it may also be possible to bring another adult feline into your home.

MYTH: Cats Who Claw Furniture Have Behavior Issues

FACT: Cats love to scratch because it sharpens their claws, relieves anxiety, is an energy releaser and is a way to mark territory. It’s unfair to expect your cat not to scratch, because scratching is a perfectly normal behavior that is essential for your cat’s mental health. You can, however, redirect his clawing to appropriate areas by providing scratching posts in strategic areas of your house.

MYTH: Kittens and Cats Raise Themselves and Don't Need Training

FACT: Cats have a socialization period during the first weeks of life, falling between 2 and 7 weeks of age, where they learn about their environment and what is “safe” and “unsafe.” This is the key time to help your cat adapt to his environment and build bonds with others. There are even kitten socialization classes that can help your young cat build confidence and increase his sociability.

MYTH: Cat Meows Don't Mean Anything and Can Be Ignored

FACT: Admittedly, excessive meowing can be a little annoying at times. But your cat is meowing at you because it’s his form of communication. Cats are often rewarded for meowing. If your cat meows with enough persistence, he can elicit a response from you, often in the form of petting or pulling out the can opener.

Some cats naturally meow (talk) a lot and some are very quite and don't have much to say - just like people. If your quiet cat suddenly starts meowing a lot, it could be linked to medical problems such as dementia, hyperthyroidism and high blood pressure, which means extra meowing in your cat should be investigated by your veterinarian rather than just ignored.