How well do you know cats? Perhaps you have been around cats all your life, and you think you know a lot about them. Read on — You will learn that there are several common myths about cats that just aren’t true. Here are 14 of them that you may have thought to be true about cats, but they are actually false.
How To Interpret This Post
Believe it or not, the 14 points in bold that are listed in this post are the myths that many of us believe. Perhaps you know that a few of them are simply myths, but some of them will surprise you. For example, the very first one — cats are nocturnal — is one that I believed. Now I have learned a new word — crepuscular.
So, read each myth, and beneath it, the script will debunk these myths and set your thinking straight. As far as I’m concerned, there is always one more thing to learn about your cat.
1) Cats Are Nocturnal
I have been around cats all my life, but I found a couple of these cat myths that I believed. For example, this first one: Cats are nocturnal.
I’ve always thought that was true. However, cats are not actually nocturnal. They are actually crepuscular, which means they are most awake at dusk and dawn. The reason: Their natural prey is awake at dusk and dawn.
My cat, Pogo, comes close to fitting that pattern. He wakes me up at 6:30 every morning. He sleeps a good deal during the day, but he is awake and active from about 5:30 until bed-time.
2) Cats Are Not Trainable
Wrong! Cats are just as trainable as dogs, if you just know the proper way to train them. Online help is available.
If you are a doubter, watch the video in the right sidebar of this website, called, “The Savitsky Cats.” There’s your proof.
3) Cats Are Low Maintenance Pets
Don’t let your cat know you think so! Especially if you have a cat that lives exclusively indoors. Then you need to find ways to enrich their lives.
They require attention, food that is good quality, and clean litter boxes. They need toys that give them something to do. They need play and bonding time with their human friends.
4) Cats Like To Be Alone And Aren’t Loving Like Dogs
Cats and dogs are different species, so comparing them doesn’t work well. Dogs have the primary objective to make their human happy.
Cats, on the other hand, seem to feel we are equals. Therefore, the way they express love and
affection is different. However, they do bestow these gifts to those of us with whom they have bonded.
Cats do well alone, as they are not needy of attention the way dogs sometimes are. However, they also like and often seek companionship, both with their human and with other pets.
Their purr, their rubs against our legs; their love of sitting on our warm laps, their way of following you from room to room — these are some of the signs they love you.
I have long believed that if we give our cats lots of attention with play and talk, they will become more attuned to our world and will change from being an observer to being an interactor. I believe our continued attention can enhance their intelligence.
5) Milk Is A Great Treat For Cats
Many cats are lactose intolerant, so you should never feed your cat milk. The cat can digest his mother’s milk because as a kitten his body contains the enzyme lactase. This breaks down the lactose protein.
However, once the kitten is weaned, her gut stops producing this enzyme. (This information is from Dawn LaFantaine, cat shelter volunteer and blogger)
Feeding your cat milk can cause an upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea. It’s best not to add milk to their diet.
6) It’s Okay To Leave Cats At Home Alone For A Long Weekend
Because many people think of cats as loners, they think it’s okay to leave the cat with an automatic feeder and enough water to last them; then they can be left home alone for a few days.
Not good — Your cat can get separation anxiety just as dogs do. The cat craves attention and having the family around, even though he shows it in a different way. You are not doing him a favor by leaving him alone for so long.
I read one post from a woman who left a recorder running in the house one day when she went to work. She came home, listened to it, and discovered her cat started screaming and crying shortly after she left, and kept it up for a long time.
The cat did not want to be home alone.
7) A Purring Cat Equals A Happy Cat
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. If your cat is snuggled up next to you and is purring while you give him scratches in his favorite spots, he is indeed a happy cat.
However, purring also has other meanings. The cat might purr when frightened or threatened. If he is injured or in pain, he will purr. A mother cat purrs when in labor; cats purr even when near death.
The purr is as much a means of self-soothing as it is a sign of affection. It all depends on the circumstances.
8) Declawing Is Not Harmful
Ooh, this one makes my blood boil. Yes, your cat may be scratching the furniture or the rug…so, find an alternative scratching area that he likes, and train him to use it. If he scratches in an inappropriate place, move him to his designated spot. Be consistent and committed to changing his behavior.
You can find some way to cause him to modify this behavior. Just do not get him declawed. To do so, the vet cuts the cat’s toe off at the first joint, as this is the only way to remove the claw completely. It is very painful, and the cat may develop some personality problems because of it.
He may also go lame permanently. He has to learn to walk all over again. And, if he never forgives you, I would consider such behavior justified.
9) Cats Hate Water
Though they hate getting baths, they do not hate water. Their grooming keeps their fur oil-free and fluffy, and unless the cat gets into something he can’t remove without help, let him bathe himself.
As cats tend to soak through when immersed in water, they get cold very easily — more so than a dog. Make sure your cat is thoroughly dried and in a warm place if you do have to give a bath.
Some cats, however, find water fascinating and love to splash and play in a running faucet. They may even dip their paws into a full bathtub.
If you would like a cat that loves water, choose either a Bengal or a Turkish Van. You can find information on both these cats in the “breeds” category. (All categories are listed in the right sidebar. Click on the blue link to see all the posts in that category.)
10) Indoor Cats Live Longer
Well, isn’t that interesting? I have almost always lived in rural areas, so have installed a cat door for my furry family. So many times my friends have told me I’m insuring their early death.
However, my cats have done just fine. I do establish hours: Out after breakfast and back by 4:00 p.m. Once they learn that 4:00 is supper-time, they are in and waiting.
The article says homeless outdoor kittens are more endangered than domestic cats that have outdoor access. Use your judgment — if you live in a busy city, keeping the cat indoors is most likely best. Yes, a cat who goes outdoors can run into a dangerous situation, but if the cat is one who insists he must go out, and escapes through the door every chance he gets, you may as well let him out — he will be a happier cat.
Assess the dangers where you live. Establish hours, and don’t let the cat out all night. Chances are, your cat will be fine.
11) Cats And Dogs Can’t Get Along
Sometimes that is true. Some dogs can be a downright danger to cats, and some dogs and cats just don’t seem to believe friendship is possible. However, just as sometimes two humans don’t get along, dogs and cats can have their difficulties.
If we, as the humans in this situation, can help them communicate and co-exist, they may be fine. When I lived on Spruce Island, my cat raised my dog, and then the dog in turn helped raise two feral kittens that we adopted. We functioned as a family.
When I lived close to the village of Ouzinkie, I knew one family who had a dog and three or four cats. They all slept outside in the front covered entryway of the house. Many times when I would visit, I would find one or two cats sleeping on top of the dog to keep warm. They had worked out a satisfactory arrangement.
12) Cats Always Land On Their Feet
Cats have an internal balancing system and very flexible backbones. These allow him to twist his body to right-side-up in mid-fall. However, if they fall just a short distance, they may not have time to react, so they can’t right themselves. Then they will experience a clumsy landing and sometimes an injury.
13) Dry Food Is Better Than Wet Food
Actually, with cats, the opposite is true. It is better for them to eat canned food for a few reasons: It is higher in protein, lower in calories, and contains needed moisture.
Don’t give them dog food, as it does not contain all the nutrients that a cat needs.
14) All Cats Love Catnip
Not true. Only 50 to 75% of cats enjoy a reaction to catnip. Interesting, that sensitivity to the essential oil in catnip, neopetulactone, is an inherited trait. Most cats in Australia have apparently not inherited this trait, so they are not susceptible to catnip’s charms.
Most cats who react to catnip seem to gain some kind of euphoric high; however, make sure your cat isn’t one where catnip actually makes them aggressive.
I seem to have selected cats who enjoy catnip. Their reactions have been varied. For example, with my two Kodiak cats, Uptight Cat and Loose Cat, they had very different reactions. I grew catnip for the cats, and Loose would eat a couple of leaves, and then go into a “catatonic meatloaf” state until it wore off. Uptight would eat the plant to the soil.
Have you learned that you had a few cat facts all wrong? Seems there is always more to learn about these creatures who enter our lives and add to our daily adventures with some of their own. What interesting creatures they are!
The reference I used for this post is as follows: