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Common Misconceptions About Cats

October 15 2023

October is Black Cat Awareness Month. Black kitties definitely need some extra love and attention. Because of old myths and misconceptions, many people still believe that they are unlucky or, even worse, associated with witchcraft. However, those aren’t the only misconceptions about our feline friends. A local Rancho Santa Fe, CA vet lists a few other persistent ones in this article.

They Have Nine Lives

It’s really not hard to see where this myth came about. Kitties have a knack for getting themselves into trouble, but they also have a lot of near misses. Fluffy only has one life, just like the rest of us. However, we’re not sure anyone has told her that yet.

They Like Milk

Those old iconic images of cats lapping up milk may be cute, but they’re also misleading. Most adult cats are actually lactose-intolerant, and can’t digest milk. This is because once kitties stop nursing, their bodies stop producing lactase, the enzyme that allows them to digest milk. Some of the confusion may stem from dairy farms, where cats were able to enjoy raw milk, which contains lactase.

They Steal Babies’ Breath

This is another old wives’ ‘tail’. To be fair, there is a bit of truth here. Kitties do love to snuggle with their humans. This is normally a good thing: who doesn’t love cuddling up with a purring ball of fur? However, it can be dangerous with infants, as they aren’t strong enough to push Fluffy off them, and can get smothered. There is a simple solution though: crib covers.

They’re Not Affectionate

To be fair, some kitties are quite aloof, and prefer to be admired from a distance. However, many of our feline patients are actually very loving and cuddly. Even if Fluffy isn’t comfortable being held, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you. She may just show it differently. For instance, your furry friend may run up to you wiggling her tail, meow at you, follow you around, or just quietly hang out with you.

Fluffy Should Give Birth Before Being Spayed

This is another misconception that keeps making the rounds. There’s absolutely no medical necessity for Fluffy to have kittens. Delaying this procedure does more harm than good, ultimately: there are already far too many homeless cats out there!

Our Advice on Common Misconceptions About Cats in 2024

Are cats really invincible?

No, cats are not invincible. The myth of cats having nine lives stems from their agility and ability to often escape from high-risk situations unscathed. However, like any other living creature, they have only one life. Cats can get injured or become ill and require careful attention to their health and safety. It’s essential to provide regular veterinary care and a safe environment and monitor their well-being to ensure they live a long, healthy life. Cats’ remarkable survival skills are impressive but not immune to harm.

Are all cats standoffish?

No, not all cats are standoffish. Feline behavior varies widely among individuals. While some cats may appear aloof and prefer minimal interaction, many are very affectionate and enjoy close contact with their human companions. Cats can express their love in different ways, such as following their owners around, meowing for attention, or cuddling. The perception of cats being distant can often be attributed to their independent nature, but this does not mean they do not form strong bonds or seek affection from their families.

Is declawing ethical or safe for cats?

Declawing is considered neither ethical nor safe for cats by many veterinary professionals and animal welfare organizations. It involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe, which can cause pain, behavioral changes, and long-term physical problems. Declawing removes a cat’s primary means of defense and can affect their ability to walk, balance, and engage in normal behaviors like scratching. Alternatives to declawing include regular nail trimming, providing scratching posts, and using nail caps to prevent unwanted scratching, promoting both the physical and psychological well-being of the cat.

What are the arguments for and against letting cats roam outside?

Arguments for letting cats roam outside include natural behavior expression, physical exercise, and mental stimulation. Outdoor access can contribute to a cat’s overall happiness and well-being by allowing them to explore, hunt, and play. However, arguments against it emphasize increased risks of injury, diseases, predator threats, and accidents. Outdoor cats can also negatively impact wildlife populations, especially birds. Given these considerations, many experts advocate for supervised outdoor activities, such as leash walks or secure cat enclosures, to balance safety with the benefits of outdoor exposure.

How do cats communicate with humans and each other?

Cats communicate with humans and each other through a variety of methods, including vocalizations, body language, and scent marking. Vocalizations such as meowing, purring, hissing, and growling convey different emotions and intentions. Body language, including tail position, ear orientation, and posture, further communicates a cat’s feelings and reactions. Scent marking through rubbing or scratching allows cats to establish territory and familiarity. Additionally, cats use subtle cues like slow blinking to show trust and affection towards humans, illustrating a complex system of interaction and communication.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns about your kitty’s health or care. As your local Rancho Santa Fe, CA animal clinic, we’re here to help!