For nearly 30 years of my life, I was part of a family that was strictly “dog people.” I still distinctly remember having four labrador puppies at once during my childhood. I mean, we were crazy dog people! Then the last few years, it seemed like we weren’t into animals much at all. I’ve always loved animals, don’t get me wrong, but we just didn’t have any. I think my dad probably thought they were more trouble than they were worth. So we just went about our business. Never really thinking much about it.
One day, in late 2013, my nephew and I decided to stop at a local animal shelter. We wanted to look for a new dog for the family. It was time to let another lovable fur-ball into our lives again. To the surprise of all of us, we wound up coming home instead with our cat Tigger (whose origin story you can read more about on my cats’ website!). Since then, a lot of things have changed for us. I don’t think any of us are solely “dog people” anymore. I like to think of myself as a champion for all animals now, but I’ve especially come to love my kitties.
Which is mostly what has inspired me to write this post. I’ve noticed that there are a lot of misconceptions about cats. Even though cats outnumber the amount of dogs in the United States by about 2-4 million, they still get something of a bad rap. Mostly because they’re usually more distant and aloof than most dogs are. Cats also tend not to be quite as obedient as dogs are during training. These traits alone make the idea of owning a cat sound terrible to most dog fanatics!
So in an effort to clear the name of cats everywhere, here are some of the biggest misconceptions and outright myths about our favorite felines.
Cats are assholes.
This probably varies between cats, but generally speaking, cats are actually pretty great!
Cat behavior is often times more subtle and low-key than a dog running to greet you at the door. Rather than drowning you in sloppy dog kisses, a cat is more likely to give you a long slow-blink, rub against your leg, or “boop” you gently with its head. In fact, if a cat hangs out in the same room as you, it can be considered a compliment: As a rule, cats don’t stick around where they don’t feel comfortable. So if it didn’t like you or considered you a threat, it would be hanging out somewhere else. You can also feel special if your cat rolls over onto its back in your presence: Displaying its vulnerable belly is your cat’s way of trusting you.
Also, as horrifying or morbid as it might be, if your cat brings you “presents” (i.e., dead rodents or other small animals), this is actually the highest honor it can bestow on you! This is your cat’s way of hunting and providing for you. It thinks you’re unable to hunt for yourself and has thus taken it upon his or herself to do so for you. Isn’t that sweet?!
Cats take care of themselves.
While caring for a cat is generally much lower maintenance than caring for a dog, this doesn’t mean you can leave a cat to its own devices 24/7. It also doesn’t mean that it’s a “lazy” pet that you’ll never have to spend time or energy on.
Your cat will need assistance with more items that you think they can handle on their own than you might believe. Cats do mostly groom themselves and keep clean, but their coats will still need to be brushed out regularly. This is especially true for longer-haired cats or those who shed more than others. Provided you have an entirely indoor cat (which it should be!), it will also use its own bathroom without bothering you too much. You’ll still need to clean and completely change the litter on a daily basis, however. And since cats need much more sleep than humans do, you won’t need to show them constant attention. But they will still need human interaction via affection, playtime, and exercise.
So while a pet cat might consume less energy, they are still a big responsibility to uphold! Make sure to consider that before adopting one!
Cats don’t get seriously ill.
This is another topic that is just not true. Possibly stemming from the old cliché that cats have “nine lives.”
Cats only have one life however and, like any other animal, cats will sometimes get hurt or get very sick and need to see a veterinarian. Some pet owners believe that cats will only need to see the vet once or twice a year, but depending on the age, health, and condition of the cat in question, it may need to see the vet more often than you’ve been led to believe.
Your cat is a member of your family, so make sure to keep him or her healthy!
You don’t have to “fix” indoor cats.
No matter what you’re told or what you read, you should always spay or neuter your pets!
By getting your cat spayed or neutered, you will effectively be:
- Avoiding an unwanted litter of kittens
- Avoiding those unwanted kittens from being euthanized in shelters
- Greatly decreasing the urge for them to spray all over your house
- Reducing aggressive tendencies when a cat goes into heat
- Eliminating the risk of testicular or uterine disease or cancer
There are low-cost animal clinics all over the country that provide the surgery at very affordable prices. You can also safely have your kitten fixed as early as eight months old.
Honestly, there’s no reason not to have it done!
Black cats are bad luck!
This misconception is completely absurd. We can all agree on that. But somehow, black cats are still one of the most common types you’ll see abused or in shelters.
Black cats are just as great and as loving as any other cat. Don’t be silly.
Cats love drinking milk.
This one is particularly surprising for most of my non-feline friends, but milk actually isn’t great for them! Though a saucer of milk is frequently seen as the beverage of choice among cats, it turns out most cats are actually lactose intolerant! Drinking too much milk can cause a cat to have diarrhea, get sick to their stomach, and vomit. Generally speaking, you’ll want them to avoid the dairy!
Cats don’t like attention.
This is another one that’s probably dependent on the cat. While some cats prefer their alone time, there are definitely cats that are much more social than others! For the most part though, you can count on the fact that they’ll let you know when they’ve had enough of you.
Pregnant women shouldn’t have cats.
This myth is caused by a fair bit of confusion and forewarning.
Pregnant women are at risk of being infected by toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease that can cause a miscarriage or deformities in an unborn child. The most common ways women are infected by toxoplasmosis are from poorly-cooked food, contaminated soil, or handling cat feces, which can occur when cleaning a pet cat’s litter box.
While pregnant women are sometimes warned that they’ll have to give up their pet cat, the fact is that they are simply advised against cleaning their litter box. Toxoplasmosis is typically not transmitted from simply coming into contact with the cat itself. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that women are far more likely to contract the disease by “eating raw meat or from gardening.”
You can read more information about toxoplasmosis here and always be sure to follow your doctor’s guidelines.
Declawing a cat is perfectly safe.
This one is 110% untrue!
Cat owners will usually look into this procedure as a way to prevent their pet from scratching during playtime or after their upholstery was ruined by scratch marks. What most don’t realize, however, is that having a cat declawed can actually be quite painful and cause lasting physical problems for them. And if you’re thinking this is just my personal opinion, please note that even the American Humane Society vehemently opposes the procedure as it involves surgically amputating the last bone on each of the cat’s toes.
If you’re worried about a cat that is constantly scratching, there are other ways to help curb the behavior. Don’t subject your cat to unnecessary pain!
More than half of all companion animals that enter shelters are euthanized due to being unable to find suitable homes. If you’re considering a new pet… Adopt, don’t shop!