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Fanciful feline fables - Are they true?

20th April 2020

For as long as cats have existed, some mistruths have lived alongside them. From having nine lives to being fiercely independent, the human race might have the ordinary household cat all wrong…

The most common myth is that cats have nine lives. This theory has been around for so long that the saying is commonly applied to people. Saying someone has nine lives means that they keep managing to get out of difficult or dangerous situations unharmed.

An old proverb is believed to have started it off, all because of the way cats can get themselves out of many tricky situations without coming to harm. As they age, however, they tend to stick around the house a lot more, not getting into as much trouble.

Many people also think that you can’t train a cat. While you can’t train them as you would a dog, there are ways to teach your cats how to do things. The key is to work out what they want and what the most effective methods are.

Some cats prefer treats as incentives, and others want toys. Aside from toilet training, some cats learn how to jump on command, use a human toilet, and ring bells to get food.

Some of the most commonly depicted scenes in children’s books involve cats having saucers of milk and playing with balls of wool. Both are supposed to be treats, but both can be harmful.

Adult cats cannot digest the lactose in cow’s milk properly, which can result in an upset stomach. In the case of wool, as it’s fibrous and your cat’s tongue is rough, they can swallow fibres that may cause them harm if it blocks their digestive tract.

Another all-too-common myth surrounding cat ownership is that it’s beneficial to let your female cat have a litter of kittens before you take them to your vet for desexing. Instead of seeing significant changes in your cat, you end up contributing to the ever-growing population of cats in Australia, while increasing your cat’s chance of illnesses. Desexing your female cat can reduce the risk of reproductive organ cancers, mammary cancers, and unwanted behaviour when she is in heat.

Then there are the safety concerns around cats and pregnant women. While it’s true that toxoplasmosis is a disease stemming from cat faeces that can be dangerous for your unborn baby, it doesn’t mean you need to get rid of your cat. Toxoplasmosis is also found in raw eggs, meat, some unpasteurised dairy products, and soil. However, if you take all precautions, don’t handle the litter box and always wash your hands after handling your cat, you and your cat can
continue living together!

There are many myths out there waiting to debunked, and the ones above are only scratching the surface. If you have questions about your cat and their care, consult your local veterinarian.