Old folk legends–such as that cats suck a baby’s breath–have nearly died away. But new superstitions about cats persist. Today, we’re looking at 21st-century misconceptions surrounding cats and how these tales might harm our pets.
Superstition #1: Kittens thrive on cow’s milk.
Calves thrive on cow’s milk. Kittens grow on the mother cat’s milk. Feeding cow’s milk to a kitten can cause it to become obese, and since many cats are lactose intolerant, dairy products can give your cat diarrhea.
Superstition #2: Cats are solitary animals who only deign to accept love from humans.
This myth says dogs are pack animals who smother their humans with slobbery kisses while cats are remote, aloof creatures who snub their people’s overtures of affection. In fact, both cats and dogs make loving pets who need plenty of human attention. They just show it differently. Cats purr, give kitty kisses, rub alongside a leg, and love to curl up on a warm lap. Most cats also enjoy the companionship of another pet in the house when possible.
Superstition #3: Cats can scarf down all the table scraps they like.
Table scraps contribute to feline obesity, a growing problem for America’s cats. In fact, Cornell’s researchers estimate 40% of cats are obese and another 5-10% are overweight. It’s best to stick to a diet approved by a feline nutritionist or a vet who is more educated on feline nutrition.
Superstition #4: Cats always despise dogs.
Everyone knows cats and dogs are sworn enemies for all time, right? Both fairy tales and proverbs (fight like cats and dogs) tell us so. Actually, many cats and dogs get along famously.
Superstition #5: You can leave a cat alone for a week if she has enough food.
A housecat shouldn’t be alone for more than 24 hours. They miss us while we’re away. If you can’t take your pet with you, ask a reliable friend to check in on the animal daily. Food refills, fresh water, and human companionship can help your pet feel better during your absence. Plus, this assures that an ill or injured cat can get treatment. If you can’t find a willing friend, check with a reliable, vetted pet sitter.
Superstition #6: All cats hate water.
Many cats don’t enjoy the water, but some do. The Turkish Van, for instance, is well known for its love of swimming. Other cat breeds such as the Bengal also relish a brief dip. And in recent years, hydrotherapy has become popular with cat lovers as a treatment for cats who live with arthritis, dysplasia, obesity, or feline depression.
Superstition #7: Pregnant women should avoid cats.
Pregnant women should avoid catlitter boxes. There is a small risk of contracting toxoplasmosis from an indoor cat’s feces. But cats themselves are safe to be around. Washing your hands with soap and water after interacting with a pet, however, is always a good idea whether or not you are pregnant.
Superstition #8: Cats are color blind.
Cats’ eyes reflect a mysterious beauty, but because their eyes glow green in the dark, cats have earned a reputation as color-blind animals. It’s true that they see fewer shades of red and pink than we do. It’s also true that cats don’t see colors as richly or crisply as we do. Still, cats are not color blind. That green glow in their eyes means they outdo us at night vision.
Superstition #9: Declawing is a wonderful idea for protecting your sofa.
Most vets and cat behaviorists don’t recommend declawing. Still, 25% of American cats are declawed, a surgical amputation of the first joint of each toe. Because the procedure is so extreme, it’s best to examine all other options first such as scratching posts, noise-aversion techniques, or Feliway spray.
Keep your cat healthy and happy by taking time to investigate anything you hear about cats. When you learn something new, we want to hear about it. Email us or contact us on social media.
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