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The Most Common Myths about Cats


Most people wonder whether cats read their minds and whether they drink milk. New studies suggest that cat owners should forget what they think they know about their cat pets.


Every cat owner thinks they know their cats. Cats are typically portrayed as self-interested and wily animals that do whatever they want to do.

However, cats are actually self-interested in a similar way to other animals. Evolution sidelines animals that don’t take care of themselves.

Actually, recent discoveries done by veterinary scientists, animal behaviorists, and molecular geneticists have now overturned most of the perceptions that pet owners have about cats.

Thus, if you believe that your cat reads your mind, then you’ll be surprised after going through this article.

cat lying on top of another cat

Myth #1: It’s impossible to train cats

Most people assume that it’s impossible to train their cats. In reality, cats learn efficiently just like dogs. However, only a few people train them since most people assume it’s quite impossible to do so.

They often assume that cats are untrainable since their traditional function was to hunt and kill vermin, and they’re better at it when doing it the way they find best. On a similar note, untrained dogs do more of hindering than assisting.

However, the key difference between cats and dogs isn’t how they’re good at learning new things but their motivation to learn. For instance, dogs are unique animals since they perceive human attention as something rewarding.

They focus obsessively and keenly when being trained. It’s easy to shape their behavior by making them follow the desired behavior.

You can make them do something by enticing them with a simple pat on their head or actually ignoring them whenever they do what they’re not being trained to do.

You can also train dogs by offering them food items as a special reward for something well done.

As for a cat, food is the sole reward which works consistently. You can easily train your cat by making it beg for food. You can find many online videos on cat training that can attest to this fact.

Training a cat demands more perseverance and patience than a dog. Cats tend to be more attentive to people whenever they want something specific whereas dogs can be attentive even when they don’t need anything.

You first need to teach a cat that they’ll be rewarded for being attentive, especially when you offer them a chicken breast morsel or a very tasty prawn.

You need to keep training sessions short for a start since cats have a tendency of walking away upon getting bored. Attempting to force a cat on the training program when it’s already bored will lead to lack of interest to learn.

You can improve the wellbeing of your cat by training it. Training a cat will also make life smoother for its owner. For example, you can take it on a trip, say to see a vet, as a trial when training it.

All you need to do is train the cat beforehand to know that being kept in a carrier for some time is actually fun and the carrier is comfortable and safe for the cat. By so doing, you’ll find it less stressful to carry your cat to the local vet.

cat climbing on a tree

Myth #2: A cat is a domesticated animal

Cats with a pedigree, such as Maine Coons, Russian Blues, Siamese, and Persians among many more, are categorized as domesticated animals by biologists.

Their owners generally control their care, feeding, and breeding, just like with dogs and domesticated livestock.

However, in earlier times, some cats were not actually pedigree animals. Some mothers may have been pets, but during mating seasons, they would disappear from their homes to seek mates.

Some males may be pets but others might have not been domesticated. Today, most pet owners domesticate their male pet cats to ensure they don’t roam. Otherwise, such males would be living on their own and wary of human beings.

Each female cat usually observes the males they have attracted for several hours, or even days, before settling on the male to mate.

Today, this is not something that cat owners can allow. That behavior has been changing over time as a result of domestication. However, there are some cats that still don’t have a pedigree. Thus, some cats are still partly domesticated.

The kind of courtship that cats have is a sign that domesticated cats will continue evolving. Male cats will continue showing some persistence whereas female cats will continue showing preference towards certain males. Such characters influence the kind of characters that future generations will adopt.

The fact that feral cats exist shows that some cats that are perceived to be domesticated are actually not fully domesticated. Domesticated kittens are usually born to adapt to interact well with humans.

However, if they lack the company of human beings for the initial two months after birth, they tend to be wary of people. They may end up adopting a feral kind of lifestyle, scavenging or scrounging for food.

If a feral kitten is discovered before it reaches two months after birth, and is introduced to humans carefully, then it can become just like any other pet cat.

As such, cats are still able to switch from being fully domesticated to being partially domesticated within a few generations, something that no other totally domesticated animal would be able to do. Thus, your cat might have some wild tendencies.

cat in a blanket

Myth #3: Curiosity kills cats

There’s an old saying that implies that cats tend to be extremely inquisitive to the extent of putting themselves in danger. However, only few cats behave that way.

They vary in their curiosity. Some are quite bold to try out novel situations while most are typically circumspect such that they choose to stay safe from a distance rather than inspecting anything that seems unfamiliar.

Today, biologists consider such character traits as similar to those portrayed by humans and other animals. Thus, it’s not only cats that behave that way.

It appears that whenever resources like food get scarce, bolder animals thrive better when compared to timid ones since they’re able to get food first.

However, showing timid behavior when approaching some food means that it’s less likely for the animal to become a predator’s meal. That’s how boldness and timid traits persist in any species.

However, if this saying is actually true, how was it arrived at? Well, it appears that the first version of this saying was documented during the sixteenth century and it said that care kills the cat, and in this case, care refers to having some sense of stress or worry.

The reason behind this consideration is regrettably unclear. Luckily, veterinary science in the modern age is rediscovering the facts behind this saying.

Today, most pet cats have illnesses related to stress such as dermatitis and cystitis. Recent research shows that the antagonistic relationships that exist between pet cats are the main contributor to these illnesses.

Stress may arise between pet cats living under the same roof, especially where their owner has unintentionally selected two cats that don’t get along well.

The stress may also arise between cats that live in neighboring homes as they fight over boundaries when marking their territories.

Cats are not great at analyzing body language like dogs. Dogs are able to resolve differences. However, cats can live in conflict for even months or years.

white dog and gray cat hugging each other on grass

Myth #4: Dogs sense smell better than cats

Dogs are able to pick odors at a concentration of 10,000-100,000 fewer times than a human being. While cats have smaller noses than humans, they’re still able to beat human beings by 1,000-10,000 times when it comes to picking smells. Thus, it’s a fact that dogs do sense smell better than cats.

Dogs and cats, unlike humans, have another kind of olfactory sense, that’s another sense of smell located between the nostrils and the roof section of the mouth. Cats outdo dogs in using the chemical sense of the second olfactory.

The second sense of smell is known as Jacobson’s or vomeronasal organ. It comprises of two tubes that are filled with a fluid. Each tube has one opening through the nostrils.

Each tube also has another opening in their incisor teeth. Just about halfway through each tube, there’s a pouch with an organ whose function is sensing smell.

For smells to reach the secondary sense organ, they first need to get dissolved in the animal’s saliva. The dissolved smell is then pumped into the sensory pouch. Consequently, the sense organ in the pouch produces the sensation of the corresponding taste or smell.

Basically, a vomeronasal organ, abbreviated as VNO, has a brain section known as an accessory olfactory bulb (AOB). The AOB processes information produced by the VNO separately from the information generated from the nose.

Generally, the receptors in a cat’s VNO are bigger in range than those of dogs. The range of VNOs in cats is rated as 30 while in dogs it’s rated as 9. Generally, dogs don’t show any indication that they’re utilizing their VNOs.

On the contrary, cats show a clear indication that they’re utilizing their VNOs. They usually pull their upper lip upwards to expose their upper teeth such that their VNO ducts are opened.

They do so in a facial expression that appears fierce. The significance of this facial expression was only discovered recently.

The VNOs is cats are a bit more discriminating when compared to those in dogs, especially due to the fact that cats were initially solitary animals. They relied on scent markings to communicate amongst each other.

When cats express a facial expression, it’s probably upon noticing scent marks left behind by some other cat and they’re utilizing their VNO abilities to gather more details about the cat that left those marks behind.

Research is yet to demonstrate the full capabilities of a cat’s VNO. But it’s known that cats are able to identify each other using scent marks in case they have experienced them before.

Even if a cat hasn’t experienced some scent marks before, they’re able to tell the reproductive state and sex of the specific cat that made those markings.

white and brown blue-eyed cat by the white metal frame

Myth #5: A cat knows what its owner is thinking

Animal scientists are yet to agree on whether animals, besides human begins, have the ability to realize that other animals have their own minds.

People believe so much in theories surrounding the mind such that it’s difficult to ever think about not having a mind. For instance, when conversing, people try hard to choose their words carefully when getting a message across since they’re able to imagine the kinds of thoughts that the people listening may be having when talking to them.

People consider that the people they’re talking to have a mind that’s like their own. However, there may be some differences between their minds since each person is a unique individual.

Apes are believed to be the closest animals to human beings in terms of mental capability. Other mammals are believed to have limited mental abilities.

Dogs usually display primitiveness. They usually alter the signals they send amongst each other depending on whether the recipient dog is paying attention.

Regardless of this capability, it doesn’t prove that dogs know that their fellow dogs have their own minds. It might be some sophisticated rules and method of communicating.

It’s not yet clear whether cats have such sophistication. Cats are descendants of territorial species. They have limited opportunities to interact with their own kind.

As such, it’s unlikely for cats to have such mental abilities. As such, if a cat is looking at its owner, it’s probably paying attention but not contemplating what you’re thinking. As such, they’ll hardly read your mind.


Myth #6: Domesticated cats are tracked to ancient Egypt, around four thousand years ago

While archaeological evidence has dated earliest domesticated cats to around four thousand years ago, recent research dates the DNA of pet cats to another five thousand years ago.

Research on mitochondrial DNA sampled from hundreds of wild and pet cats indicated that domesticated cats date back to ten thousand years ago and not four thousand years ago.

Pet cats spread out from their original land to North Africa and Middle East. Pet cats also interbred with wild cats from time to time.

Pet cats evolved into being distinct from wild cats over time, making them easier to tame.

It’s still uncertain where pet cats precisely originated. It has been quite challenging to collect more samples in the Arabian region to discover the precise location where pet cats originated.

As such, it’s believed that domesticated cats did not originate abruptly from Egypt but they evolved gradually from wild cats.

They gradually became pet-like but still retained their hunting ability such that they’re still able to keep food stores free from mice and rats.


Myth #7: Milk is the best food for pet cats

Cats have over the years been believed to love milk. It’s factual that cats love cream. They value cream for its fat. Thus, they like milk that comes straight from a cow, especially when the cream is allowed to settle at the top.

While this is factual, the milk bought from supermarkets has little fat content. While some pet cats do like it mainly due to its taste, most pet cats find it hard to digest.

Here’s a video from WatchMojo debunking 5 cat myths:



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