By Alex Greaney
August 8th is International Cat Day, and it’s about time that we recognise the contributions of our (almost) favourite fluffy friend. Unfortunately, despite there being 325,000 cats in Ireland, many of us know shockingly little about them, but we can change this. To mark this very special occasion we are going to bust some of the biggest cat myths that still persist today.
- Cats love milk: This is a funny one because cats do indeed love milk. The problem is milk does not love them. Now you may have already suspected that full fat milk is not good for your cat, but what a surprising amount of people do not know is that the majority of adult cats are lactose intolerant. This means they can become sick if they drink milk. But do not fear, there is special lactose free milk for cats sold in most pet shops, and whereas this may not be good for them, I know my two girls adore yoghurt for cats and won’t even touch the yoghurt for humans anymore.
- Black cats are unlucky: I don’t think many people believe this wholeheartedly, but I mention it because despite this myth being an obvious superstition of no real value, black cats are still adopted less than every other colour of cat. This is a real shame, as black cats are just as caring and goofy as any other kind of cat and they are no more or less lucky than any other cat. It is sad to think that a superstition has such an effect on these innocent creatures.
- Cats love boxes: No myth here, this is 100% true.
- Tail wagging means that they are happy: Cats are not dogs and as such, have completely different body language. In dogs, a wagging tail means that it is happy; in a cat it means that the cat is angry or playful. Touching a cat with a wagging tail is a good way to get a sharp reward. Cats with a still tail are usually calm, and if their tail is straight up it is them saying hello or looking for some pets. That is when it is ok to approach.
- Cats are nocturnal: A common myth, that can be hard to disprove as many cats adjust their circadian rhythms to that of their humans, or because they sleep all the time anyway, but cats are in fact crepuscular. This word, the bane of quiz heads everywhere, means that cats are most active at dawn and dusk, which may be the reason for that ball of fluff bouncing off your walls at 4am.
- Cats like to be left alone and do not love: I can answer this quickly, cats do love. Anyone who has had to spend an extended period of time with a cat will learn that they like to cuddle up to their friends, will experience separation anxiety when their favourite people are gone, and can even become depressed if a family member dies. Cats are animals with strong personalities and will sometimes want to be left alone; they can get into grumpy moods, and will often crave the quiet. However, sometimes they will want attention, sleeping next to their family members, try washing them, or every cat owners favourite experience, sometimes they will show their affection by sticking their backsides in your face.
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