(Mis) Perceptions of Cats
My 69-year old single aunt recently moved into a retirement community for seniors. When I saw her over Christmas, I asked her if she would like to adopt a dog because she had always shown a fondness for my parents’ dog Johnny and my other aunt and uncle’s dog Jerry. She said that she didn’t want the responsibility that comes with owning a dog so I suggested she adopt a cat instead. Upon the mention of “cat,” she hissed (pun intended) and shook her head vigorously. At the same time, my mother who was sitting next to her was doing the same thing. I pressed further for exact reasons for their strong dislike for cats. “What is it about cats that you don’t like?” I asked. They both chimed in at the same time saying, “They’re evil.”
Now putting that little anecdote aside, I wanted to lay out a list of myths and truths that I have come across over the years to dispel some of the top misconceptions about cats and cat behavior.
Myth 1: Cats are evil.
Truth 1: Cats are not evil. I don’t know where this misconception originated from, but it has been perpetuated by the media over the years. From Sylvester the Cat who is always looking to devour Tweety Bird, to the two Siamese cats that are up to no good in “Lady and the Tramp,” it is no wonder why cats have a bad reputation.
Myth 2: Cats love to drink milk.
Truth 2: In reality, milk gives cats upset stomachs. Don’t believe those cartoon kitties that lap up milk! What the cartoon fails to show you is that in the next few seconds, the cat will have upset stomach and most likely vomit due to the fact that a lot of them are lactose intolerant. If you find a tiny kitten, you would give it special kitten formula, never cow’s milk.
Myth 3: Cats can easily be declawed, or it is good for them to be declawed.
Truth 3: There is no need for a cat to be declawed, and nor is it good for the cat. Most people who declaw their cats have done so for their own convenience, so that the cats will not ruin their furniture or scratch them accidentally. Declawing is not simply a manicure; it is a surgical procedure that is more involved than a clip to the nails. Here in Los Angeles, a bill was passed in 2003 banning veterinarians in the city of West Hollywood from performing declaw procedures on cats.
Myth 4: Cats always land on their feet.
Truth 4: Although cats are extremely dexterous and agile, it is not true that all cats land on their feet every time they are falling. It differs from cat to cat, and certainly not something to be tested just for testing’s sake.
Myth 5: Cats are not as friendly as dogs.
Truth 5: It may be true that your cats may not greet you at your door after you come home from your long day of work by jumping onto your lap and wagging their tails vigorously, but that does not mean that your cat is less friendly than your dog. A lot of cats are very friendly, but this is displayed in different ways. As opposed to a friendly tail wagging, a cat will purr and rub its face and body around your legs. Just as you don’t expect two people to have the same personalities, a cat and a dog do not act or express their personalities the same way. And that does not mean that a cat is not as friendly as a dog.
There are hundreds of other myths about cats that are being perpetuated in our daily lives. What are some of the ones that you have heard that didn’t make this list? Leave us a comment below.