Black cats and other feline myths

Black cats are bad luck? Fail! (Photo: Black Cat Rescue via Petco)

No creature on earth is surrounded by myths more than a cat. Friday the 13th is a perfect time to explore 10 of them.

 Black cats are bad luck.

Western culture in particular has associated them with evil omens and as familiars of witches, but Japan, Great Britain, Ireland, and Scotland consider them symbols of good luck. Shelter works, however, are quick to say that they’re the last to be adopted from litters of kittens.

Cats are aloof, antisocial.

Cats respond in kind to the amount of attention they’re given. Ignore your cat and she’ll probably be aloof. Talk to her, play with her and she’ll reward you with head butts and chirps, and seek you out for love and affection.

In the wild, cats have complex social structures. Mothers often share kitten duty. Visit any well-managed feral colony and you’ll see the intermingling and social order. A recent article in Catster explores feline hierarchical structure.

Cats are happier outside.

Admittedly, it’s fun to watch an outside cat basking in the sunshine, sniffing flowers, or chasing bugs. Today, however, the dangers outweigh the pleasures, but it’s up to you to provide a stimulating environment, whether is sun-filled window perches or a safe outdoor enclosure.

Cats will suck the breath out of babies.

That’s more than a bit extreme. But if you are having a baby, take steps to prepare your cats: familiarize her with baby sounds and odors before the child arrives. Do spend time with her afterwards. There’s nothing more heartbreaking to hear of people getting rid of their cats because due to a baby’s arrival. Keep in mind that kids raised with pets have stronger immune systems.

 It’s better to let a female have a litter before spaying her.

What will you do with that litter of kittens? Shelters are full and they don’t need the products of showing your kids the miracle of birth. In fact, many shelters adopt out cats and kittens only after they’re spayed (or neutered). If you’re determined to have that experience, become a foster parent for your local shelter. That way you won’t be responsible for adding to the overpopulation. And the longer you wait to spay your female, the great the chance she’ll develop mammary cancer.

Cats always land on their feet.

The Internet is full of stories about cats that survived falls from high rises and trees. But why take the chance? Make sure your window screens are secure and provide comfortable beds and scratchers near the windows.

It’s all right to declaw your cat

Simply stated – No. Declaw a cat is like cutting off your fingers at the knuckle. Scratching is natural cat behavior and there are plenty of ways to effectively channel the impulse. This well-documented article by Dr. Narda Robinson should convince you.

A cat purrs because it’s happy.

For the most part, yes. But cats purr as they give birth and when they’re sick or dying. It’s been said that purring is a mechanism for self-comfort. And for our comfort, as well. Who isn’t comforted by a purring cat?

Cats dislike water.

I doubt that any cat would like being plunged into a tub of water, but given their innate curiosity, many can be found playing it, whether it’s drinking from a dripping tap, watching a toilet flush, or jumping in the tub. They just have to experience water on their own terms.

Cats can’t be trained.

Cats are intelligent. They need a job, especially those who are in the house all day. Clicker training is one way to teach your cat various fun and useful commands. It’s also a good way to build your bond. Of course, there are those who believe that cats are the ones that train us…

Any other myths about cats that you’d like to bust?


About ExclusivelyCats
Sally Bahner is an expert in all aspects of cat care: Writer, consultant, speaker, instructor.

3 Responses to Black cats and other feline myths

  1. Pingback: Monday Mentions: THRILLERFEST! « Amy Shojai's Blog

  2. LeilaT says:

    Nice list. I don’t beleive much in black cats bring bad luck. That’s one of the oldest stereotypes. When I was a kid, my friends used to two steps back when black cat crossed their way. Now, I think kids never heard of it . I love cats and recently started to blog about them tool. Good job you did.

  3. Kay says:

    Reblogged this on Furry Sidekicks and commented:
    This is a great post by ExclusivelyCats exploring the myths associated with cats.

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