My family loves cats! However, we keep hearing people spew misinformation (fake news!) about our favorite pet. Can you please educate your readers on some of the more common myths about our feline friends?
– Cat Myths Be Gone in Oak Forest
Dear Cat Myths Be Gone,
I feel your pain. Unfortunately, there are still people who believe all of the myths and negative fables about cats in our culture. While shelters and rescue groups have done an excellent job of educating the public about cats and their behaviors, it bears repeating that many people have got it all wrong as far as cats are concerned. Here are a few of the most widely held fallacies about cats:
Myth 1: Cats always land on their feet.
Cats don’t have collarbones, their backbones are very flexible, and they are extremely graceful animals. This may have led to the old wives’ tale that they always land on their feet. However, the way your kitty is constructed is no guarantee he won’t be harmed in a fall.
Myth 2: Declawing is an acceptable way to make peace with having an indoor cat.
Declawing is the surgical amputation of the first joint of each of a cat’s toes, and is increasingly viewed as inhumane and a form of mutilation. There are many other ways to coexist with a cat without having to sacrifice your furniture. Make sure to have ample acceptable places for your cat to scratch and ask your vet for alternatives to declawing.
Myth 3: Cats are aloof and unloving. Dogs make better pets.
Cats can be very loving if they’re treated kindly from an early age and feel safe and secure in their home. Dogs are, by nature, pack animals, while kitties are more independent. But cats can enjoy the same status in the family and are often just as loving, attentive and present as their canine buddies.
Myth 4: Cats can be left alone for days on end.
Cats shouldn’t be left alone all day and night without someone checking on them, interacting with them and cleaning their litter boxes. If you’re going out for more than 24 hours, hire a cat sitter or enlist a friend to check in on Fluffy.
Cats can be left home alone while their owners are at work or out for relatively short periods, but they need things to do while their people are gone.
Myth 5: Pregnant women can’t have cats.
While toxoplasmosis (a virus sometimes found in cat feces) can cause flu-like symptoms in humans and even miscarriage, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t recommend that pregnant women, or anyone else, give up their cats. Instead, the CDC advises thoroughly washing your hands after changing the litter box and using gloves if possible.
Since cats can only contract the parasite in the first place by eating contaminated raw or undercooked meat or consuming an infected rodent, the CDC also recommends keeping your cat inside and keeping its paws away from raw meat.
So, long story short: Cats make excellent, loving and fun pets for people of all ages and lifestyles. If you encounter someone spewing these myths, set them straight then head them off to an animal shelter for more information.
Do you have a question for Tabby? If so, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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