Cats are extraordinary animals whose abilities fascinate those who love them, but also cause mistrust and skepticism in those who fear them.
Therefore, even today, they are still associated with stories as surprising as unreal, which most likely contribute to a general misunderstanding and the continuity of some myths.
But it’s about time to clear them up! So we will help you to know the truth about 7 myths, so that these domestic felines can be better understood and respected!
Myth 1. Cats transmit asthma …
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the airways of the lungs, usually happening after exposure to a trigger, but never by direct transmission or contact with any infectious agent.
And the allergic reaction that some of us have in the presence of cats is not exactly to their fur, but rather to an allergen eliminated through their saliva, called Fel D 1.
This is a protein produced in the salivary glands of cats that passes into their fur when they groom themselves. Only then it is spread into the environment, through their fur and the natural shedding of their skin.
All cats produce it, regardless of breed, color and hair size, but nowadays it is already possible to neutralize it in total safety through specific food given to the animal.
In addition, frequent contact and continuous exposure to the allergen can help, in some cases, to reduce the intensity of the symptoms. Thus, someone who is sensitive can stop being allergic to a specific cat or even several cats, continuing to enjoy happily their company!
Myth 2. Cats always land on their feet …
This myth is true in most cases, but it’s not an absolute truth. Cats land on their feet most of the time!
In fact, they have an ability to position themselves correctly when falling. This happens only at heights greater than about 60cm, and as long as there are no obstacles, in which they can hit or get stuck, causing disorientation and making it impossible to position themselves properly.
For lower heights, they may not have enough time to make this rotation, and when falling from greater heights, even though there is plenty of time, the crash may be so violent that it can cause fractures or serious damage to internal organs and, in some cases, even the death of the animal.
Therefore, especially if you live on high floors, prevent future complications or heartbreak and keep the windows closed or properly protected with safety nets, so that your cat is always safe.
Myth 3. Cats are harmful to pregnant women …
Cats are the definitive hosts of Toxoplasma gondii, the parasite responsible for Toxoplasmosis. This disease can affect humans and, in pregnant women, can have serious consequences, including malformations in the fetus and even abortion, which is why there is alarming info about this possible transmission route.
But cats, despite being part of the life cycle of this parasite, are not the only ones to transmit the disease and, in most cases, are not responsible for it.
Cats with outdoor access, who have the habit of hunting and eating raw meat, can become infected more easily, eliminating the parasite in their feces. And people can become infected if they get in contact with these contaminated stool, by accidentally putting their hands in their mouths or eyes without prior washing or disinfection.
But indoor cats who eat only processed food have almost no risk. And besides, if their medical care is always updated, and their pet parents are careful with their hygiene habits, this transmission will be almost impossible.
This is why Toxoplasmosis cases in humans are mainly associated with the ingestion of poorly washed or processed food, or contaminated water. It can also be related to handling raw meat or contaminated soil, without sanitizing utensils and hands.
Unfortunately, due to alarming info, including by health professionals who accompany pregnant women, it is easy to see why many cats are temporarily or permanently removed from their homes.
But with proper care, no one should give up the company of their cat, not even pregnant women!
Myth 4. Cats purr because they are happy …
It is not completely clear why cats purr, but there are some considerations about the main reasons for doing it, and happiness does not apply to all of them!
Purring is the first form of communication between the mother cat and her newborn kittens, but it is also used when calling for food or help, in healing or recovering processes, in situations of serious illness, pain or intense stress, and also when they are happy.
While you may not be sure what your cat is trying to tell you by purring, the most important thing is to pay attention to it. Try to understand in what context they do it, their body language and tone, and watch their responses to your reactions. With time, we guarantee that this process will become easier and easier.
Myth 5: Cats are dangerous because they scratch …
Cats have sharp claws, essential for their outdoor life and particularly useful when they have to climb or defend themselves from other animals and threats.
Because their claws are retractable, they stay hidden most of the time and are only exposed when cats need them. They learn to use them during childhood, when playing with other kittens or their mother, so that they will know how to control them in the future, depending on the situation.
But nowadays, this interaction keeps getting shorter (or doesn’t exist at all), either in kittens born on the street, because they go through all sorts of adversities, but also in kittens from breeders, often removed too early from their feline families.
And without natural learning, or proper monitoring by their inexperienced human families, it becomes more difficult to control their sharp claws. So it is common that some scratches will end up hurting our skin, too fragile for them, when they’re frightened or improperly handled, trying to get free or run away, and without any intention to do so.
With time and care, new pet parents can easily learn the nature, language and behavior of the newly arrived cat, so that they know how to avoid unwanted scratches. Most importantly, they should avoid using their hands directly when playing with them, giving preference to toys suitable for this purpose, so that nobody gets hurt.
Myth 6: Cats cannot be trained …
Cats can bring additional challenges to those who want to train them, because of their singularities, but never impossible. So, as with other animals, everything depends on motivation.
And the right motivation is the key to the success of any training, including cat training.
Many cats are exclusively indoor cats, living only within four walls, so good training can be essential to meet their basic needs by allowing them to maintain a stimulating environment.
So as long as the sessions are short and interesting, so they don’t get discouraged, training keeps them cognitively active, and also helps to strengthen the emotional bond between pet parents and cats.
Don’t give up if you don’t see results in an early stage. Carry on with positive reinforcement through cuddles, toys or tasty snacks – whatever your cat prefers, and keep up the mood and regularity of training sessions!
Myth 7: Cats don’t like affection …
Anyone who has ever had the privilege of sharing life with a cat knows how this statement could not be further from the truth.
Cats are very special animals in their behavior and may not seem to have such exuberant displays of affection for their pet parents as dogs, for example. But when properly socialized, and if respected in their environment and individuality, they can create bonds as or more affectionate than other animals, and sometimes even become completely dependent on the physical presence of their human family.
Usually cats prefer being petted or touched in the areas where their facial glands are located, such as the base of the ears, the chin and around the cheeks, rather than areas such as the belly, back, and tail. But ideally, you should always respect your cat’s wishes and give him control by letting him decide if, when, and for how long he wants to be petted!
Cats are animals of extraordinary sensitivity and intelligence, and deserve our respect, and not to be judged for lack of knowledge or experience.
And in most cases, only after having a cat, we are able to recognize their value and truly understand their nature.
So don’t let yourself be influenced by unfounded myths and overcome any preconceptions you might have about these domestic felines. Once you adopt a cat and feel their happiness with you, you’ll understand why this animal can sweep us off our feet!
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