Popular Cat Myths

By John Platt Jr. March 02, 2019

As cat owners, we’re all familiar with the popular sayings, myths, and urban legends that go a long with our furry companions. For generations, superstitious people have passed on stories about cats that tend to be a bit exaggerated, further echoing the mythos of cats. Here are some popular cat myths, and the truth behind them.

Cats always land on their feet

Although we often perpetuate this myth after witnessing our cats gracefully survive a high fall, landing on their feet doesn’t mean they’ve landed uninjured. The reasons cats often land on their feet after a fall are biological. The righting reflex, as it is called, is present because cats have an unusually flexible backbone and a nonfunctioning clavicle bone, allowing a cat to right itself for a fall of atleast 12 inches! However, this means that short falls, often unexpected ones, can lead to serious injuries because the cat does not have time to right itself. In addition, high falls can cause sprains, broken bones, or internal injuries depending on the height! Always check to make sure your cat is okay if they’ve taken an unnecessary tumble.

Black cats are bad luck

Like most of these other supernatural or superstitious claims about our furry felines, this myth likely dates to when people considered witches to be real and cats to be their familiars or pets. Black cats, because of their ability to blend into the shadows likely got an especially bad rap for this. However, there are 0 scientifically proven reports of a black cat bringing either good or bad luck into this world, so take what you hear with a grain of salt.

Why adopt black cats? Well, because of this commonly held superstition about black cats being evil, unlucky, or downright devil some, black cats are populating shelters at an alarming rate. People often abandon black cats out of fear of what they might cause in their households. Nothing about the color of a cat’s fur determines its behavior, and it is truly unfair that black cats undergo this treatment.

Cats are loners

We like to paint cats as solitary predators and dogs as proud companions. However, cats are not solitary creatures! Wild and outdoor cats do often hunt on their own, as it decreases the likelihood that they scare their prey away. However, if the cat was born a member of a large litter and remained with their siblings during their first 8 weeks, they will most likely enjoy the presence of their siblings . Therefore, people often say that you should adopt cats in pairs! The best company for a cat is another cat who sees the world from their perspective.  To learn more about cat to cat introductions, read our article about introducing a cat to another cat.

In addition, cats can often bond with dogs! Although we don’t know much about the science behind cat-dog bonding, there is enough anecdotal support on both sides to suggest that cats and dogs can bond if the dog isn’t one that takes to predatory or hunting behavior. My cat, for instance, is a 10-pound tortoiseshell that loves to lay and play in my 90-pound golden retriever’s fur. He’s older than she is and was introduced to her when she was just 8 weeks old, so he is used to having her around. This can be harder though for other pet owners who are perhaps bringing a full-grown cat who already has opinions about dogs into a household with a dog. In addition, it is not suggested to adopt cats into multi-dog homes, as canines often feed off one another, getting increasingly aggressive which could be misdirected at your cat by accident.

Cats will steal a baby’s breath

If you’re a cat owner and a parent, you’ve likely heard this one. Many people believe cats do not like babies and will suffocate them when they are sleeping. This is only further exacerbated by the fact that your cat is going to show loads of attention to a new baby, as it is a new member of the household. It’s likely your cat will want to snuggle up against the baby while it is sleeping. This is fine if you make sure the cat’s body is not blocking the baby’s head. A good, safe bet is to keep your cat from the sleeping child until it is big enough to pick its head up and move around on its own.

Table food is okay for my cat, she likes it

We all know that one human food that our cat just adores. That one thing that when you’re eating it, you can’t resist treating your little kitten to a lick. For my cat, it’s ice cream and Chick Fil A sauce. However, these things should not be given to our cat every time we eat, as human food is garbage for cats. It is comprised solely of empty calories. In addition, cats require a specialized diet fit to their lifestyle, not something that is likely processed and going to upset their stomachs. Try to limit the amount of human food your cat eats, none of it is good in any capacity. But we all get weak for those little faces sometimes.  If you want to learn more about cat diets, then read our cat diets article.

Cats love milk, we should put milk out for our cat

It is true, cats do love milk! When they are born, the only thing they know for food is milk until they are waned off onto a diet of cat food. However, they remember what it tastes like, and are attracted to things that smell like dairy. In small amounts dairy is fine for your cat, but it is likely to pack quite a punch on your cat’s digestive system. In even moderate amounts, milk will likely give your cat diarrhea, as their digestive systems can’t handle it. For kittens that must be separated from their mothers, you should stick with specific kitten recipes for milk from your local pet store.

Cats have nine lives

This myth likely draws its origins from the reverence paid to cats by Ancient Egyptians. Because of their abnormal feats and being able to fall from great heights, cats are thought to have lived multiple lives. For instance, when a cat falls from a height it should have died but doesn’t, someone would say “take one of those cat lives away.” For people who had no knowledge of what a righting reflex was would think a cat had 9 expendable lives before it died.

Pregnant women must not live with cats

Although it was a commonly held belief for generations, modern technology has confirmed that cats can be dangerous to fetuses and pregnant mothers. However, the danger stems from feces, litter, and the litter box. Toxoplasmosis is a disease that is transmitted by a parasite that is carried by cats that consume infected rodents and birds. However, the risk can largely be mitigated by methodical hand washing and having someone else change the litter out frequently, so it is not only sanitary, but none clings to your cat.

Cats hate water

This myth likely originated from the fact that cats hate being bathed. They probably think that they do a fine enough job on their own, and that they would rather be doing anything else in the world than being submerged in water. Especially since when cats get wet, they like to lick the area dry. That’s a lot of drying! However, some cats do enjoy a running faucet or shower. Next time you’re in the bathroom with your cat, turn on the faucet and watch them bat at the water or possibly even drink from the stream!

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