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Myths About Cats that You Shouldn’t Believe

March 1, 2014

For whatever reason, many myths have grown up around our feline friends over the years—so much so that many people believe false things about cats. Here, a West Greenwich veterinarian sets the record straight about a few common cat myths

Cats and Milk Go Together

Nothing could be further from the truth! While your cat may happily lap up milk from a saucer, it’s certainly not good for her. Almost all cats are lactose intolerant, and too much milk will cause diarrhea or even vomiting. The only time cats need milk is when they’re being weaned from their mother. After that, it won’t do any good.

Cats Always Land on Their Feet

Most cats are very agile, graceful, and poised—but that doesn’t mean they always land on their feet. In fact, veterinarians have a name for cases of cats falling out of windows or off of ledges: High-Rise Syndrome. Cats can slip and fall just like anyone else. In fact, shorter falls are even more dangerous because a cat might not have time to right herself.

If you witness your cat fall or suspect she’s injured internally, take your pet to the vet’s office immediately for treatment. Have your West Greenwich vet’s number on hand to call ahead.

A Cat Purrs When She’s Happy

Cats do purr when happy, yes, but purring can in fact indicate a variety of emotions. Some cats purr when they’re angry, stressed, or feeling threatened. The truth is, cat vocalizations vary depending on the cat—try to take note of your cat’s noises in different situations to determine what she does when feeling a certain way. Consult your veterinarian for more information on cat communication and vocalizations.

All Cats Love Catnip

Many cats do not react to catnip at all—this is because cats require a certain gene, inherited from their parents, to feel any reaction to the herb. If they don’t have it, catnip won’t have any affect. Ask your vet where you can purchase catnip so you can determine if your cat reacts to it.

Our Advice on Myths About Cats that You Shouldn’t Believe in 2024

Is it healthy for cats to drink milk?

No, it’s not healthy for cats to drink milk. Contrary to popular belief, almost all cats are lactose intolerant, meaning their digestive systems cannot properly process dairy. Offering milk to a cat can lead to digestive distress, including diarrhea and vomiting. Cats only require milk during their infancy while being weaned off their mother. Beyond this stage, milk provides no nutritional benefit and can harm their health. For a cat’s hydration, clean, fresh water is the best and healthiest option.

Why do cats have a reputation for being aloof?

Cats often carry a reputation for being aloof due to their independent nature. Unlike dogs, which are pack animals and seek constant companionship, cats are solitary hunters by instinct. This independence can be mistaken for aloofness. However, cats do form strong bonds with their owners and show affection in various ways, such as purring, rubbing against people, and sitting close to or on them. Each cat has a unique personality, and their way of expressing affection or interest can vary significantly, contributing to the perception of being aloof.

Do cats truly always land safely on their feet?

Cats possess a remarkable agility and a righting reflex that often allows them to land on their feet. This ability is not infallible, however. High-Rise Syndrome highlights the danger of falls, particularly from shorter distances where cats may not have adequate time to adjust their position. Such falls can result in serious injuries. While cats are naturally skilled at maneuvering their bodies during a fall, it’s crucial to ensure their environment is safe to prevent accidents and potential harm.

Are black cats really bad luck?

The belief that black cats bring bad luck is purely a myth rooted in superstitions dating back to the Middle Ages. Modern science and veterinary medicine confirm that a cat’s coat color, including black, has no correlation with luck or misfortune. Black cats, like all felines, display a wide range of personalities and behaviors unrelated to the myths ascribed to them. These misconceptions have unfortunately led to challenges in the adoption of black cats, underscoring the importance of debunking such myths and promoting the welfare of all cats, regardless of color.

What are signs your cat might be sick or in pain?

Signs that a cat may be sick or in pain include changes in behavior such as increased aggression or withdrawal, decreased appetite or refusal to eat, unexplained weight loss, changes in bathroom habits, lethargy, or reduced activity levels. Additionally, vocalizations like excessive meowing or growling can indicate discomfort. Physical signs such as limping, difficulty jumping, changes in grooming habits, or visible distress are also indicators. Since cats often hide their pain, any noticeable change in their normal behavior or routine should prompt a consultation with a veterinarian to ensure timely and appropriate care.

Please feel free to contact us, your local animal clinic in West Greenwich, RI!

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