The Hervey Foundation for Cats

The Truth on 11 Myths About Cats

Truths on Eleven Myths graphic

Cats are a curious and mysterious breed. Some of their behaviours are hard to explain while others can be quite predictable. Over the hundreds of years they’ve interacted with humans, some myths have developed about them that just aren’t true, and we are here to debunk those myths!

Black cats are unlucky

This one seems like it should be obvious as it is a superstition. For those who remain uncertain, we can assure you, that no – black cats are not unlucky! They are just a cat who happens to have black fur.

Another black cat-related myth says they are adopted less often than other cats. This may ring true at some shelters, but ASPCA Vice President Emily Weiss wrote in Black is Still the New White, after reviewing statistics from a number of communities, with over 300,000 animals taken into account, that more black cats were actually adopted than any other color.

Cats hate water

One myth that can be chalked up to ‘every cat is different’. Some cats just plain love water. Some cats will sit at the sink and drink from the tap, drink from the tub, or stick their heads under any source of running water just for the fun of it. Much of this could also be related to experience with water at a young age.

Cats are cold and unloving

Just plain untrue! While some cats may be less trusting of humans, all cats want to be loved and cared for! Even the most scared cat at the shelter wants to go home with a family that loves and cares for them. Many cat owners know how rewarding cat love can be!

Cats always land on their feet

This myth is a tougher one to debunk. In most cases, cats are able to turn their bodies mid-air to land on their feet. This isn’t to say you should go out and start testing it. Cats are living creatures and they are not perfect. Not every scenario will be one where they can right themselves in the air, and the less fit cats of the world will struggle with it even more.

Cats purr when happy

It’s true – to a degree. Cats do purr when they are happy! This is common knowledge, but did you know they also purr when they are greatly distressed or in pain? The reason purring helps comfort cats as it is something they associate with being happy.

Drinking milk is normal for cats

Kittens can drink milk, and the only milk they drink should really be from cat food companies. Cow’s milk is not actually healthy for cats and adult cats should not be drinking it ever. It can cause a number of digestive problems and other health issues.

Cats are solitary animals

This myth is another that boils down to nature vs nurture. Some cats, especially feral cats, do not like being around people. That isn’t to say they don’t like being around other cats, but they do live a life less involved with humans. Domesticated cats, however, do want love and interaction. They seek this attention from people and in some cases other animals.

Indoor cats are unhappy

This just isn’t true. Indoor cats, when cared for and loved, can live meaningful and interesting lives. It’s all about how much time you spend with them, the sorts of toys and activities you provide for them, and the quality of the litter and food care. Living indoors also protects them from numerous other threats, mostly caused by other humans.

You can’t train a cat

Cats are actually very smart animals. Their independence is often confused with stupidity and that’s not a fair characterization. Cats can very much learn different tricks or behaviours when sound and positive reinforcement is used. Just make sure you are doing things they enjoy as well!

Pregnant mothers should avoid cats

Pregnant mothers need not fear their cats. This myth comes from the risk associated with Toxoplasmosis. While mothering a cat – petting, cuddling, and kissing them on the head – is not a risk, pregnant mothers should NOT be changing the litter box if they can avoid it. If unavoidable, they should ensure are not breathing the air around the box directly.

Cats are nocturnal

Cats are actually more complex than that. They are what is known as crepuscular – animals that are most active during dawn and dusk. The reason for this is because prey often is active at these times. That’s why you’ll often see your cat sleeping through the day and on your bed through the night.