Common Cat Myths Debunked
- by Rufus and Coco
Cats often get a bad rap when it comes to being the ideal companions, falling short in comparison to other animals. They're not known for their expressive nature, tend to be independent, and value their personal space. However, it's important to remember that there are exceptions to these generalisations. In fact, there are several prevailing myths about cats that warrant closer scrutiny and should not be hastily embraced as truths. Let's debunk a few of them.
The Truth Behind These Common Cat Myths
All Cats Hate Water
There are quite a few reasons why cats aren't keen on getting wet, but that doesn't mean that all of them hate water. In fact, some breeds actually love swimming, such as the Turkish Van.
Other breeds that are less likely to be afraid of water range from the Maine Coon to the Abyssinian or Bengal. In the end, it also depends on how the animal has been exposed to water in the past.
Generally, getting wet makes a cat heavier and, therefore, less capable of defending themselves against predators, which is one of the primary reasons for their aversion towards water.
Cats Don't Love Their Owners As Much As Dogs Do
It's difficult to assess just what feelings your cat might have toward you if their nature is a little more independent than what you'd expect them to be. Most cats are happy or at least pleased when their owners get back home from work.
Some will wait for their owners right in front of the door, while others might just come and say hi to them with a 'Meow!'.
The truth is that cats tend to differ in terms of how close they are to their owners or even how they show affection depending on a few different factors - their background, the amount of time they have been living with the same person, and even the breed.
Everyone knows that there are so-called 'lap cats' that love being with their humans more than other breeds - such as Ragdolls, Birmans, or Persians. Some Maine Coons and Exotic Shorthairs are the same – so if you want a cat that loves spending time with you, seek to adopt one of these.
Purring is a Sign of Happiness
Nobody knows why some cats (including big cats) are capable of purring while others' anatomy simply doesn't allow them. However, what should be known about purring is that it has multiple other functions besides showing happiness or contentment.
Purring has multiple frequencies, so while some types of purring might strictly relax the cat more, other types might actually have healing properties. Some studies suggest that purring could improve muscle and bone function, so in case a cat has sustained trauma and was recently treated with surgery, they might use this mechanism to heal faster or just soothe themselves.
The frequency of purring ranges from 25 to 150 hertz, and this range has been shown to improve bone density, too.
Indoor Cats Don't Need to Be Vaccinated
Just because your cat doesn't spend any time outdoors doesn't mean that they have zero chances of becoming infected with potentially deadly viruses. If you are one of those people who pet cats while they're outside, you may inadvertently act as a vector for a pathogen that then affects your cat.
All cats should be vaccinated against the most contagious feline diseases, such as FeLV, Feline Calicivirus, Feline Panleukopenia Virus, FIV, Feline Herpesvirus Type I, and Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis.
While you do not need to deworm your indoor cat as often as you would have to if they were to go outside, it's not a bad idea to give them a dose every 3-6 months and have a look at their faeces to see if they contain any eggs, larvae, or adults.
Cats Are Colour Blind
First off, compared to other animals, cats are quite nearsighted, so they might not be able to see objects clearly, especially when they're located at a distance.
As for the colour itself, cats are not colour-blind at all. They can perceive multiple tones, but they are somewhat muted compared to what the human eye can visualise. In a way, cats always see an autumnal version of what we do, even in the spring or summer - there are more greys and yellows and even a bit of blue.
All Cats Can Drink Milk
Kittens that are younger than the age of 3 months are indeed capable of drinking typical dairy milk without necessarily experiencing any digestive distress. However, goat's milk is a better alternative compared to cow's milk as it is a little more digestible.
But the best of all is commercial kitten milk. All cats older than three months are basically lactose-intolerant, but they aren't intolerant to the milk of their own species - just the one that people tend to drink.
Plant-based milk varieties are safer in some ways, but they're not recommended for cats as they shouldn't have soy, almond, or rice. These varieties also do not provide them with any benefits given that they are obligate carnivores.
Short-Haired Cat Breeds Need No Grooming
All cats need some form of grooming and pampering, whether their coats are longer or shorter. Naturally, longer-haired breeds need a bit more care, especially since they tend to shed more compared to their shorter-haired counterparts.
Use a Self Cleaning Slicker Brush for grooming and massaging your cat every 5 to 7 days, and trim their nails with a pair of Safety Nail Clippers & File every 3-4 weeks. If your cat's coat is rich and thick, you might need a Self Cleaning Deshedder Brush, too.
If your cat doesn't like too harsh brushings, a Pet Grooming Glove might be a better choice.
It might seem strange, but cats whose hair is short or virtually non-existent need a lot more care than those with regular coats. For example, Egyptian Mau kittens need to be wiped with a wet cloth every week, but because their coat is so short, they need a good-quality diet, packed with omega fatty acids – which they can also get from cat snacks such as our Reel Fish Crunchers.
Sphynx cats are by far the most challenging breeds to care for grooming-wise as they have extremely sweaty and oily skin and virtually no fur at all – so weekly baths with a 2 in 1 Oatmeal & Aloe Wash is definitely recommended in their case.
Outdoor Cats Are Happier
It's true that outdoor cats do get more excitement and freedom. But it's also true that they are exposed to many more dangers compared to indoor cats. They risk catching all sorts of nasty diseases from other animals, but they can also easily become the victims of larger predators.
Not to mention that they can become lost or adopted by someone else, especially if they don't have an ID Tag & Bell. Car accidents can lead to some cats losing their life, while others might end up suffering from partial paralysis (in a best-case scenario).
Cat males tend to get seriously injured when they go into heat and have fights with one another outdoors. Sometimes, they are even unable to return home for weeks on end.
Males and Females Should Experience At Least One Heat Cycle
This is a complete myth. While it is true that spaying and neutering cats and dogs before the limit of 5-6 months of age can lead to these animals being smaller than their counterparts, you should consider getting your pet fixed before their first heat cycle.
Six months is a great age, but some cats can go into heat before that. Spaying can prevent a wide range of pathologies, including pyometra and mammary cancer. Plus, spayed and neutered cats tend to live longer than intact cats.
Cats Don't Require Much Care
Some people think that cats are low-maintenance compared to dogs, and while this might have some basis in reality, that doesn't mean that they don't require any care at all.
The problem with cats is that they don't tend to show signs of disease until the condition has reached a point where it becomes more difficult to treat. Consequently, cat owners need to pay attention to their pets' behaviours and try to find cues that might convince them that they need to go to the vet clinic.
All in all, owning a cat is cheaper than owning a dog. They are smaller, they're not as high-maintenance, and they can spend their life indoors without really needing to go outside. But they have to be vaccinated and dewormed regularly, just like dogs, and they need to be seen by a vet twice a year when they get to and over the age of 7.
Why Do Cats Purr?, Lesie A. Lyons, School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Scientific American, 2006, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-do-cats-purr/
Longevity and Mortality in Cats: A Single Institution Necropsy Study of 3108 Cases (1989-2019), Michael S. Kent et al, PLoS One., 2022, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9799304/