Cats were the pet I settled for, are my favorite furry creatures, and my spirit animal. For 35 years, my family has consisted of our house cats, and feral cats we cared for. Through personal experiences, friends and cat lover groups, I realize, that even among those of us with the best intentions, there are misconceptions about cats, that can unintentionally lead to their harm. These are the top 3.
The idea that cats are low maintenance has been a common misconception. More on what to consider before adopting a cat here. A litter box, food and water, a few mouse toys, and BAM!, you’re a cat parent. Anyone whose owned by a cat, knows they each come with unique personalities and quirks. You have your chatty cats, rebel cats, snuggle cats, grumpy cats, and adventure cats, all rolled into one. A cat doesn’t want to sit and stare at the wall all day, (though they do nap like pros).
You wouldn’t adopt a dog, bring it back to your home, and leave him to his own devices. Cats need and deserve the same affection and warmth. Cats love to climb, and see the world from above ground. They love and instinctively scratch. Cats love to play, although depending on their personality, some toys are a hit, while others never get looked at. They love you, and even if your cat would rather come looking for you, than have you pick them up, they do need and want your affection. They’re intuitive, smart, lovable rascals. Short changing cats can bring about bad behavior, leading to them be labeled “bad,” and relinquished to a shelter or the streets.
The second misconception about cats is one that strikes a nerve for me. The misconception that you can “sneak” a cat in, and have it live in secret, makes my blood boil. Growing up I snuck a cat into my parents home, but those several occasions were because the cat was feral, and in the other, a friends parents told her to get rid of the cat she snuck into their home. In both cases we fostered the cats, until we found them good homes.
The idea that cats are something you can hide is cruel, selfish, and short-sighted. It almost always ends up in the cat being brought to a shelter, or dumped into the streets. In all my years of being owned by cats, I couldn’t tell you of one cat that doesn’t spend hours, laying in the window enjoying bird watching, napping, or just basking in the warm sun. Cats are also notorious for running, thumping and dashing, for no clear reason. I’ve had cats that sounded like 2 toddlers wrestling and thumping around on the floor! There’s no hiding the pitter patter of those sweet little padded paws. Carpeting you say? Unless you have sufficient scratch posts, good luck explaining why the carpet is frazzled in certain areas.
The last misconception, often results from one of the other two, mentioned above. The idea that cats can fend for themselves, is one of the most wide-spread, and the most difficult, in my opinion, to end. Adding to the belief is the fact that cats share 95.6% of their genetics with tigers, and according to Wesley Warren of Washington University, cats, unlike dogs, are only semi – domesticated. (more on how your cat became domesticated here).
According to www.catcurious.com “Many will lack any real hunting skills at all, having failed to learn from their mothers, and even those who are fairly good mousers (or insect stalkers), in the home, will likely not be able to find food in a harsh city environment, or hunt for prey effectively in a wild rural environment”.
A socialized, well-fed, comfortable house cat, won’t suddenly become king of the jungle. Aside from threats like bigger animals, crossing roads, mean people who would happily walk up to a cat and kick it, there are environmental threats. Not knowing how to navigate extreme weather, pollutants such as spilled antifreeze, which may seem suitable for hydration, are just the beginning.
As well as you think you know cats, there are just some pesky misconceptions that seem to stick. It’s up to us cat lovers, who are happily owned by our cats, to set the record straight, on behalf of our beloved cat babies. Please help us spread the info and share!