There are a lot of urban myths and misconceptions about cats. Today, I’m going to talk about ten of the most common ones, and why they aren’t true.
1. Cats always land on their feet
Cats have a righting reflex, and in many cases, they will land on their feet. If a cat can fall far enough, he can usually right himself by twisting in midair. Shorter falls may not give a cat time to perform the necessary acrobatics to land paws-first, and older, arthritic cats who are less supple are less likely to be able to make the necessary moves in time. Additionally, kittens do not have a fully-developed righting reflex until between three and seven weeks of age.
2. All tortoiseshell cats are female
99.96% of tortoiseshell cats are female. The extremely rare tortoiseshell male cat, considered a genetic mutation, is usually sterile, and finding one is often a newsworthy event, such as a kitten who ended up in a shelter last year.
3. If you’re pregnant, you need to get rid of your cat
Cats are a host for the parasitic disease toxoplasmosis, which can be dangerous for an unborn baby if a woman who has never been exposed becomes infected during pregnancy. Avoiding direct contact with feces in the litter box either by getting someone else to clean the box or by wearing gloves and then washing hands thoroughly afterwards are recommended. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) lists more likely sources of toxplasmosis as undercooked meats and gardening, so be sure to clean all kitchen prep surfaces thoroughly and wear goves while gardening, as well.
4. All cats hate water
Most cats do hate water, but some like it and even seek it out. The Turkish Van breed is nicknamed the “swimming cat” for their love of water.’
5. If a cat scratches your furniture, just get her declawed
Declawing is a painful surgery in which the last bone in each toe is amputated. Cats can have permanent nerve damage, leaving a cat unable to walk on uneven surfaces without pain. This leads to declawed cats refusing to use litterboxes, which is usually even more undesirable than the original furniture scratching. Instead, offer convenient and appropriate alaternative scratching surfaces for your cat and trim her nails if necessary.
6. Cats should have a dish of milk every day
Most cats are lactose intolerant, and cow’s milk contains more lactose and casein than most cats can digest. Feeding milk often results in an upset stomach.
7. A cat eat a diet of fish
Occasional fish may be all right, but fish isn’t a safe primary food source for cats. Some fish contain thaminase, an enzyme that destroys thiamine (vitamin B1), necessary for healthy neurological function in cats. Additionally, a fish-based diet can cause vitamin K deficiency. Many commercially-processed fish-based foods contain a syhtnetic form of vitamin K, menadione, which is banned by the FDA for use in human supplements.
8. Cats are nocturnal
Cats may knock over things in the middle of the night, but so do you when you’re wandering around in the dark! Cats internal clocks tell them to hunt at dusk and just after dawn, the times when they are most likely to find prey.
9. Cats will kill your baby
This urban myth usually takes the form of a jealous cat smothering the baby or sucking the baby’s breath. Cats love to snuggle in warm, cozy places, and people like to put their babies in cozy cribs. Is there any wonder cats try to join the baby in the best napping spot in the house? The myths about cats killing babies have been around for hundreds of years, long before Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) was a recognized cause of death for babies, usually occurring to babies in their cribs. Cats were probably blamed for some of those deaths.
10. Cats are so close to their wild ancestors they can survive in the wild
After being raised in a household and never being taught to hunt for her own meals, your cat can’t provide for herself. Cats left to fend for themselves when their family moves on are at high risk of starvation or being killed by predators. Your cat is part of your family, so include her in your moving plans!