Everyone in their right mind knows that some cat myths are clearly a little nuts. Like, if a black cat walks towards you it means good luck, but if it walks on a ship it’s doomed to sink during its next voyage. The superstitions are part of folklore, but there are also plenty of common assumptions and myths that surround cats that really aren’t true – even though many still believe them. Here’s a rundown of the ten most common cat myths answered:
1) Cats are dangerous to new born children & babies in the womb
There’s two parts to this myth and, sadly, it’s still a common reason for perfectly well-natured cats being unnecessarily rehomed. First of all, there has never been a recorded case of a cat smothering an infant in its cot. They’re more likely to be scared of the crying than anything else – but, as with all pets, babies should not be left alone with them – period. Secondly, litter trays are a potential source of toxoplasmosis that can be bad for pregnant women to contract, but just use gloves when emptying the tray or, if possible, ask someone else to do it.
2) All cats love catnip
Not true. Only around 50% of them get a buzz from catnip and even then many can take it or leave it. Of course some cats seem really quite high, often for a few minutes or so, but equally others will give their new toy a cursory sniff and just stroll off. Balls are typically much more fun!
3) Bells stop cats killing wildlife
This should work in principle as the bells make quite a racket when kitty is playing around the house. But cats are smarter than you may think and in fact can adapt their stalking and hunting technique to still be pretty lethal when roaming outside. They just lie patiently in wait, dead still, until their prey is too close to escape and then…
4) Purring = happy cat
Purring is a sign that a cat is happy, but can also be a sign of distress or discomfort. Much like the way we may hum after a nice cube of chocolate, so might we hum if worried or uncertain. You can be pretty sure that a cat who purrs while being petted is happy – if they aren’t you’ll soon know about it!
5) Cats should drink cow’s milk
Absolutely not! Many cats are lactose intolerant and it can lead to an upset tummy as, like all animals, they aren’t designed to consume milk from other species. Cats should only have their mother’s milk or a substitute approved by a vet if very young.
6) Cats are unloving
A favourite of dog lovers, in truth many people would say that cats are just as affectionate as dogs. Like all pets, they will do what is needed to gain gratification – and this works two ways. As much as we might pat a dog to bond with it so too we will stroke a cat who sits on our lap for warmth. All animals are different – and I for one have met plenty of bad tempered dogs too!
7) Dry food is best
Not really, cats fed a diet of good quality meat based foods will gain all the nutrition and liquids they need. Processed dry food even when reinforced with added vitamins isn’t necessarily as good. Many owners compromise with using both, meat once or twice a day with dry food to snack upon.
8) Indoor cats don’t need the vet as often
True, in the sense that indoor cats are much less likely to hurt themselves and need urgent treatment, but visiting a vet should be a date in the calendar for boosters and annual check-ups regardless. Those with insurance schemes may find that they require it.
9) Cats always land perfectly on their feet
Cats are incredibly graceful creatures that are also very acrobatic when they fancy it. However, given the number of times a vet will see a cat with a broken foot or toe you can safely bet that it isn’t always the case.
10) Cats have nine lives
It’s true that some cats may wander off and do their thing for days on end until returning home as if nothing’s happened, but you can bet that they haven’t been reincarnated! Cats are instinctive creatures with a keen sense of self-preservation – hence the phrase ‘scaredy cat’.