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Eight Cat Myths Proven Wrong

cat myths say cats should drink milk

Cat myths have been around for centuries, with some of them persisting into the present day while others have fallen by the wayside. Do you know which cat myths are misconceptions and which are based on fact?

Myth #1: You Can’t Train Cats

Although it’s usually more difficult to train cats than dogs, it isn’t because of a lack of intelligence. Many cats simply don’t want to be bothered. If you want to train your cat, you’ll need to find her currency – what kind of reward will make it worth her while to learn a trick or how to walk on a leash?

Myth #2: Cats Always Land on Their Feet

Most of the time a cat will land on her feet if she is falling from a sufficient height. This “righting reflex” helps cats twist their bodies in midair to minimize the chance of injury. A cat is actually more likely to not land on her feet if dropped from too short a distance, not allowing her time to realign her body.


Myth #3: Cats are Lazy

The image of a somnolent cat relaxing or snoozing in a sunny patch is a common one. This depiction of a “lazy” cat is difficult to dispel, primarily because it is sometimes true. But the same can be said of some dogs and some humans. In many cases, what looks like laziness may actually be simple boredom. Be sure to find ways to stimulate your cat’s interest. Give her fun toys and interesting puzzles to solve. Provide plenty of places to climb and ways to interact with the family.

Myth #4: Purring Means a Cat is Happy

While cats often purr when they are happy, it isn’t the only time cats purr. They may also purr when in pain (as a way to soothe themselves) and even when they are dying. Female cats will also purr to comfort their kittens.

Myth #5: Cats are Nocturnal

Cats aren’t truly nocturnal. They instinctively are more active, however, around dawn and dusk, when they can most easily hunt and when prey are more readily available. Domesticated cats usually adjust themselves to the rhythm of their household, although they may not sleep through the night. Waking briefly to prowl about one or twice a night is normal.

Myth #6: Cats Hate Water

swimming tigers belie cat myths about hating water

Swimming tigers belie cat myths about hating water

While most cats would prefer to avoid a bath, there are breeds that enjoy taking a swim occasionally. These breeds include Turkish Vans and Maine Coons. Think about it – tigers are cats and they enjoy swimming to cool off as well as playing in the water.

Myth #7: Cats Enjoy Milk or Cream

Some people think a saucer of milk is the ideal treat to give their cat, but this is one of the more insidious cat myths still held by feline owners. While mother’s milk is the perfect nutrient for kittens, most cats develop lactose intolerance once they mature. Adult cats don’t have the enzyme needed to break down the lactose in cow’s milk.

Myth #8: Cats Will Suck Out a Baby’s Breath

This is one of the oldest of cat myths. Since at least the fifteen hundreds, people across a variety of cultures have superstitiously maintained that cats will suck the breath out of an infant, killing it. The evidence? Finding cats curled up next to the face of children who had passed away during the night. In fact, the cats were usually looking for warmth, so they cuddled close, enjoying the warm breath and body heat of the infants. If the cat got too close, infants couldn’t turn their heads away because they were too young or too weak. The result was unintentional smothering that led to cat myths condemning innocent pets as potential killers.

There are countless myths surrounding pets that people still believe today. If you aren’t sure whether something is one of many cat myths that have circulated for generations, ask your veterinarian whether they are founded in truth or not. There’s no reason for our feline friends to continue to get a bad rap from old wives’ tails.


  1. Seville at Nerissa's Life

    January 17, 2018 5:33 pm

    Myth #8 is like… CRAZY! Oh my mouses, there are peeps out there who think that? Just goes to show you, peeps are a weird bunch, for sure. PURRS.

    • Lori

      January 17, 2018 10:21 pm

      LOL, sorry Seville, but it’s true! My own great-grandmother used to tell me not to ever let my son alone in his crib with the cat. She was sure the cat would suck out his breath! It was an old world superstition that she firmly believed was true. Fortunately, very few people still think that, but superstitions are hard to debunk!

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