Although all cats are different, there are certain behaviors that most do and some behaviors that many do not. While that might make this matter a little more confusing remember they ARE cats. OK, on with the 49 facts and/or myths as some are just myths stated as facts online. The myths might make for good entertainment and trivia but when dealing with your feline family should not guide your decisions. We will start with unproven facts and move on to the ones that are proven.
Unproven Facts/ Possible Myths
The list below is what we have observed online and offline written by cat lovers, some veterinarians, and others. However, there are no scientific studies done on these mentioned below.
1. Cats do not taste sweets.
Not sure how we feel about this one as we have seen cats eat watermelon and other fruits and beg for it. Since no cat owner generally gives sugar to a cat how can this be proven? Owners with “fruit eaters” generally only find this out when their kitty jumps on the counter and eats the fruit left out. Is it the water content of the fruit, the vitamins, or the sweet taste? We don’t believe anyone will ever know.
2. Cats can be right or left-pawed.
Many vets believe females are more right-pawed and males more left-pawed. Again, how can anyone know if this is true or just a preference made by a cat as they cannot of course speak?
3. Ambidextrous cats.
This ties into our concern with the first paw preference fact. It is unproven to us as to how can they be right or left-pawed and then some be ambidextrous? Watching your cat can determine if you believe this as ours seem to generally use any paw at any time to accomplish what they are seeking to do. Teeth are even used when necessary, such as digging treats out of a purse or hiding place!
4. Slow-moving objects will not be seen as prey.
Again, we are not convinced of this as our cats can ignore some fast objects such as toys that we purchased, and they do not care for while noticing a very slow-moving injured fly on the wall and go over and pounce.
5. The whiskers are the same width as the body.
This only makes sense to us if a cat stays the same size for its entire life. Cats’ whiskers are huge when kittens and look smaller as they age in our opinion as they do gain weight with age the same as humans.
6. Cats cannot share a litter box.
Yes and no. We have had ones that would and ones that would not. If accidents occur get a separate litter box but if you own more than one cat, just keeping it immaculate can help with sharing.
7. All cats love to jump and climb.
This is a yes and no too. We have had jumpers and climbers but some that did not do either or one or the other. Although it is said that cats can jump six times their length, we do find that the older they get the less nimble they become. It is too general a statement.
8. Cats hate water and do not swim.
The fact is that being an ancestor of the tiger, which was raised in a warm climate, their instincts do not lead them usually to swim. Some though, especially feral cats who were raised around other species do swim quite well and are not afraid of water.
9. Cats have the largest eyes of any mammal.
While they do have very large eyes, any research done will show that the horse has the largest eyes. When reading about this it might be truer to say of any “predatory mammal.” The size of the eyes can be compared to the size of the head in all mammals to determine this.
10. All felines make no noise when walking.
Not so sure here as we have known a cat called “Thumper” for a good reason! Although their paws are padded to prevent noise some very large or overweight cats can make a great deal of noise when walking.
11. Moist food must be fed because cats do not drink much.
This is true for many cats but if anyone has ever had a feral or worked in a shelter, they will know that some cats do drink quite a bit of water each day. This can be a sign of diabetes, but an assumption is made that all cats do not drink.
12. Milk is loved by cats.
Not even close. Having several cats ourselves over the years, we have yet to find one who had an interest in milk. Lactose intolerance can also be an issue so don’t feel the need to give a cat milk based on this myth.
13. Purring means happiness.
Yes, it does but it also can be a sign of distress or ill health. Not all purring is good. A self-satisfied purr can sound different than a continuous purr that goes on for no reason and a good cat parent will know the difference.
14. All cats purr.
Nope, there are some that are “non-purr” kitties that go through life without exhibiting purring. Purring is a reflexive behavior to satisfaction and why some do not purr is not apparent in any legitimate literature on the subject. Why purring even occurs is not readily known as feral cats can never purr, and wild tigers, the ancestors of the domestic cat, do not purr. So, it most likely is some type of learned behavior rather than genetic.
15. All cats are born knowing how to meow.
This is a learned behavior to communicate with humans. a feral cat does not meow much or can meow for no reason as they have not learned to communicate with humans effectively. Cats learn cues early in life about vocalization to get what they need when they are around humans. If not exposed to humans at an early age they either do not vocalize at all or vocalize all the time as they miss the cues of when to do this.
16. Never feed a raw meat diet to your cat.
This is a big one as many cats do well on a raw diet and do prefer it. Their ancestry leaves them with a digestive system that can and does accept raw food and meats. If a cat does not like it, it just will not eat it but it can be worth trying. Raw meats have no additives.
17. Black cats are bad luck.
We say, “Nonsense.” Period. A cat does not realize what color it is. This is an absolute myth. Unfortunately, it can be a reason that a black cat is not adopted at a shelter or given away by someone that believes this. Personality has nothing to do with color. This stems back to the 17th century when witchcraft was feared, and black cats were associated with witches in the folklore throughout North America.
18. Cats do not need much care.
This one is far from the truth and an unfortunate reason why many cats end up in shelters or abandoned. Individuals that are seeking a pet are under the impression that cats do not need to care the same as any other pet. There are toys, necessities, and of course vet care to be factored in. Cats generally live very long, up to twenty years sometimes, so this is a real commitment.
19. Cats are serious “loners”.
So not true although personality differences can exist. The reality is that cats love to be with humans, other cats, and even dogs or farm animals. They can become depressed when left alone for too long as they need a lot of love and stimulation. Two or more cats can be easier to take care of than a single cat as then they play together, sleep together, and give you, the cat parent some free time!
As you can see although the first half of this piece can show some facts may be true, they simply are not proven enough to establish them as facts. Every cat is so unique that many exceptions to rules do exist, and each cat parent needs to judge their cats’ behaviors themselves and make decisions based on proven facts and of course the observations.
Proven Facts Through Research
The following have been well researched by veterinary colleges and clinics and are just what they state they are: FACTS! These facts are documented and have more to do with physiology than the psychology of cats which no one will ever be able to determine probably. Felines are loved for their mysterious habits and behaviors and no one who owns one would change that for one minute.
20. Hissing is not an aggressive behavior, rather defensive.
Whether hissing at its owner or another animal a cat that is hissing is scared and hissing drives away predators in the jungle by tigers. A cat’s makeup is almost 96 percent tiger, according to an expert in the field of cat behavior and physiology, Layla Morgan Wilde. (1) Cats that engage in hissing constantly are generally overanxious and a vet check is in order or a trip to a cat behaviorist.
21. Cats would benefit from glasses in the daylight.
Although near-sighted, cats have better peripheral vision and night vision than humans. Therefore, they keep you up at night with their prowling and wake you up at 4 AM for breakfast.
22. Cats generally have 18 toes.
However, there are those that have an extra toe or two either on the front or back feet, and these are called polydactyl cats. They are generally found in the colder regions of North America.
23. Whiskers appear on the front legs of cats too.
Although you will have to look closely for these as they are not as apparent as on the face. Cats use both their face whiskers and back leg whiskers to judge space and see if they can enter and exit a space. Never cut a cat’s whiskers or even shave them as their coats protect them from all elements and they do like feeling protected. If you do not care for the hair on clothing or chairs you will do better with a fish or frog.
24. Camels, giraffes, and cats share the same gait.
All three move one side of the legs first and the other side next. No other mammals do this. These mammals also do not have collarbones that are attached to muscle, so this is the way nature intended them to walk.
25. Scratching and clawing furniture by cats is natural.
It is a way to sharpen claws, but even with a scratching post cats might still do this as they will scratch and claw to mark territory that smells like you. They are making you “their human.” If you cannot stand scratched furniture you might want to reconsider committing to a cat as even the best scratching post will not compare to something that smells like you.
26. Cats are more active at dusk and dawn.
This is called crepuscular. They also can sleep up to eighteen hours a day but usually in snatches called “catnaps.” Humans engage in “catnaps” too and this is where the term originates.
27. The most popular pet in North America is the cat.
Although most individuals believe that the dog is the most popular, over 88 million cats are pets in the USA with about the same number in Canada.
28. Cats have an extra scent gland in their mouths.
This is why they open their mouths to smell an object or even you!
29. Grooming of other cats and you might occur.
Cats love to groom, and some do it excessively, but cats will also groom each other and you and spend hours each day engaged in grooming.
30. Diabetes is common in cats as they grow older.
Being overweight contributes to this as does aging and genetics. Diabetes in cats can be controlled with insulin and/or dietary changes.
31. When you think of “kindle” you probably think of books via Amazon ™.
However, a group of kittens is a “kindle”. Even two kittens make a kindle. Unlike what others might say they are not a “pack” or a “pride.”
32. The term for cat breeding businesses is “catteries.”
Many individuals will buy purebred cats from breeders that are not qualified. Real cat breeders have the males and females spayed or neutered if they are siblings, so no inbreeding occurs. Only the best of the breed is kept and bred out with other cats amongst other breeders.
33. Cats only vocalize when they need something.
This is generally the case but some just like the sound of their own meowing too and can routinely talk to themselves.
34. Learning commands is possible for cats.
It is not a quick process, however, as their learning capacity is that of a two- or three-year-old child. They can learn to sit, lie down, come here, and some even use an adult commode. But patience is needed to teach commands to a cat.
35. White cats with blue eyes are prone to deafness.
Not all are deaf but there is a genetic flaw with the blue eyes that can result also in deafness. Dalmatian dogs are also prone to deafness and although studies have been done on both white cats with blue eyes and Dalmatians the actual causes are not discovered but enough exist to ensure that this is a fact.
36. Ankle-biting cats are bored.
Although it seems like an attack and can be most annoying for some reason an owner’s ankles are seen as a great plaything when bored. To stop this behavior, play with your cat more but do NOT reward the behavior via a treat or immediate attention or it will continue endlessly. This can be another reason to get another cat also as they amuse each other.
37. Cats can lick their owner’s freshly washed hair.
This is a fact but is it because of the water content or grooming needs of the cat? No one knows but enough instances occur that it does appear in veterinary documentation.
38. Most cats hate the smell of citrus but love the smell of chlorine.
It has to do with the sensory perception of their scent glands most likely.
39. Cats can show thieving behavior.
They grab feather dusters, hair clips, and other objects that remind them of prey. Leave a bag of treats in your purse or on a counter overnight and you will find it empty on the floor in the morning with a cat who now has no appetite for a good reason!
40. Cats that stick their butts up and into your face are showing friendship.
Although this may turn you off it’s instinctive to them and shows you how much they value you.
41. Kneading is reminiscent of the feeding when kittens.
Cats do knead people and things, especially things that smell like you. When kittens knead the fur of the mother cat to find the teats, this behavior is instinctive and usually carries on into adulthood as cats do find this comforting. It is a “trip back to childhood” for a cat.
42. All cats have a distinctive nose print.
It is like a human fingerprint and no two are alike.
43. Kittens in the same litter can have different fathers.
Female cats release several eggs during each ovulation and may mate many times during this period. It is not unusual to see tabby kittens mixed with black kittens, and other colors. This is the reason. They honestly are stepchildren!
44. Housecats live about three times as long as outdoor cats.
Housecats are not exposed to disease or injuries as frequently and can live about 15 to 20 years. The average outdoor only cat lives a mere 5 years.
45. Cats will starve rather than eat unpalatable food.
They are finicky and no matter how hungry if food is not fresh, or not to their liking they will withhold eating until they literally starve themselves to death.
46. Only about 50 percent of cats like catnip.
It is the “weed” of cats and like humans not all care for it. Some cannot live without it while others dismiss it entirely.
47. Cats do dream just like humans and other mammals.
They can twitch like dogs while doing this but of course, no one knows WHAT they are dreaming of.
48. Even when not hungry cats will chase birds, bugs, and other small animals.
They are APEX predators and as such hunt whenever they see prey. Hunger is not the driving force just the hunting instinct. Dogs will only hunt when starving although dogs chase prey. But cats chase and then kill the prey.
49. Trimming a cat’s claws improves its gait and prevents scratching in play.
You can take a cat to a vet or learn to do it yourself, but you must be careful as cutting into the quick of a cat’s claws causes injuries.
That’s a wrap!
Well, that is only a wrap-up of the mysterious myths, facts, and behaviors that precious felines exhibit. They are glorious and yet frustrating at times but that adds to their allure. You do not own them; they own you and every cat lover and owner knows this! Once a cat fanatic always a cat fanatic and most individuals start with one and end up with many.
Cats are like potato chips or crisps. One is never enough in the end!
There are worse habits to have though, and any cat shelter will welcome your adoration and your help if you are inclined to volunteer or take in another cat as feral cats exist in the thousands in every major city and even town. Cats can give birth from the age of three months onward. Learn from our facts and if you feel like you can devote a few decades to a worthy animal then a cat is definitely a good choice for you.
Jonathon is an entrepreneur and cat-lover. He is married to Joy and they share their home with their 2 feline-friends, Franklin & Ollie. Jonathon is a self-admitted “Crazy Cat Guy”