With their funny habits, love of tripping us over and mysterious body language, cats have amassed a number of strange myths that many people still believe. We've put together a list of these myths so you can see that not all of the 'facts' you hear about cats are true!
"Cats should drink milk" - many cats like dairy products and would happily drink cows milk if you let them. However cats do not need to drink milk once they have been weaned, which means the production of the digestive enzyme needed to break down milk, slows down. In fact, many cats can even become lactose intolerant, meaning milk can cause a host of health problems, such as diarrhoea. You can purchase milk specifically produced for cats that doesn't contain lactose, but all they really need to drink is water to keep them healthy.
"Cats always land on their feet" - cats have great balance, and the organs in their ears make it easier for them to right themselves whilst in the air and allow them to land on their feet. This isn't always the case though! A fall can still cause broken bones, and a cat won't always land correctly. Generally speaking, the higher the place they fall from (to a limit!), the better the chance they have of landing on their feet - this is simply because the fall takes longer, giving them more time to turn in the air.
"Cats sleep next to babies because they like the smell of milk" - there is no evidence of any attraction to the smell of milk on a baby's breath, and it's more likely that they sleep next to children simply because they are warm. Nurseries are quiet, dark and warm, which is very attractive to a cat!
"All cats hate water" - many cats dislike getting wet, but they still find water interesting! You'll often see cats playing with water droplets from the tap, or shower, and some even like to watch the toilet flush! Also, Turkish Vans are a breed of cat that are known for their love of swimming, so not all cats hate water.
"Black cats are bad luck" - this is a widely spread myth, mostly known around America and parts of Europe, which is likely due to their association with witches throughout history. However, in Japan and Britain they are considered lucky. There is no evidence either way that black cats are particularly lucky or unlucky and this has actually become a harmful superstition when it comes to rescue cats! Black cats are least likely to be chosen to be rehomed as many people don't want the bad luck association.
"Cats should live alone" - cats have very different personalities to one another, so it's always best to decide on the type of home they need depending on how they behave. Some cats simply do not get on with other cats at all and will need to live alone. However, some form very strong bonds and would be very upset (and maybe even become sick) if they were separated from a specific cat. Others get on with all cats and would be happy to make new friends. We observe all of the cats at the centre to see which would be suitable to live with other cats, and which would need to live as an only pet!
"Pregnant women should avoid all contact with cats" - whilst toxoplasmosis can be found in cat faeces, and can be dangerous to unborn babies, the chances of contracting it from cats is actually quite small. Toxoplasmosis can also be contracted by handling raw meat or even spending time in the garden, so cats aren't all that dangerous after all! Pregnant women should ask somebody else to clean their cat's litter tray to reduce the risk of infection.
"Cats aren't loving pets" - cats can make very loving and loyal pets! Many people compare them to dogs, which is silly really as they are a completely different species with different behavioural traits, but this doesn't mean all cats are unfriendly or aloof. Every cat has a different personality, and they all have different habits and traits so it's best to judge a cat on their individual behaviour rather than a rumour about the species overall.
"Purring means your cat is happy" - yes, most of the time purring means your cat is happy, but cats also purr when they are in intense pain. It's thought that this is a reaction to try and calm themselves down.
"Cats have nine lives" - the most commonly known myth about cats! Cats definitely do not have nine lives, but their ability to survive accidents that other animals couldn't has made them into mysterious pets with a magical reputation. This likely stems from gods worshipped by Ancient Egyptians, as well as the association of cats with witches.
Cats make amazing pets! If you are interested in adopting a cat, take a look at our rehoming page. Although they don't actually have supernatural gifts, they are magical creatures, sharing your home and heart.