7 Cat Myths and Superstitions – Debunked

Amazingly, some cats quite like water and even baths.

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Putting a bell on your outdoor cat won’t save your local birds. By: comedynose

We hear so many myths and superstitions about cats from friends, family and folklore, but is there any truth to them?

What I’m trying to say is: Are cats really reincarnated witches who have 9 lives and also spread bad luck?

Here’s a closer look at 7 feline fabrications we hear most often.

1. Cats would lose their sense of balance if they didn’t have whiskers.

Not true, says Animal Planet. Cats use their whiskers for navigation, moods and figuring out if they can squeeze under the sofa by pushing their heads through first.

Whiskers are not required for balance, but removing or cutting them can affect these other senses. Cats may also experience pain with whisker removal, since whiskers are located in a facial area that is rich in nerves and blood vessels.

2. Cats always land on their feet.

Cats mostly land on their feet because of their bone structure and having the ability to manipulate their body quickly (cats also have no collar bone).

But cats can still land awkwardly and suffer injuries (especially from greater heights).

Here’s an example of a cat landing gone awry:

3. Black cats are bad luck.

This particular myth depends on how much you believe in superstitions.

Centuries ago, black cats were thought to be witches because they were most active at night. People claimed they caused bad luck, were reincarnated witches in feline form or did witches’ evil biddings.

Whether you should be worried if a black cat crosses your path also depends on where you live: Some European countries believe it to be good luck, while most Americans view it as bad luck. Evidence to substantially support a black cat as anything more than a cat whose fur happens to be black is lacking, and we mark this myth as false.

4. Cats have 9 lives.

Cats are amazing for their ability to make impossible leaps and jumps, survive falls and maneuver in ways we didn’t think possible.

But once a cat dies, it’s definitely not coming back for 8 more turns. So take precautions around your house to make sure your cat doesn’t have access to anything that will cause him injury, whether it’s a choking hazard or a high open window without a screen.

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Black cats can either represent good luck or bad luck, depending where you live. By: ralphandjenny

5. Male cats pee everywhere.

My own male cat defies this myth; he only eliminates in his litter box — and nowhere else.

While male cats get accused of being the guilty pee party, any cat can spray urine to mark territory, according to the ASPCA. Neutering can lessen or eliminate spraying, and other benefits include reducing the risk for testicular cancer, injury and disease transmission.

6. Cats hate water.

Yes, many do, but this is not true for all cats.

Cats are pretty clean, generally, but when the time comes where you have to actually bathe your cat, make sure you take the proper precautions to prevent a slick escape — and use the right shampoo.

This little kitty video says it all:

7. A bell on your cat’s collar will keep other animals safe.

The bell can toll all day and night, but it won’t make a bit of difference if your cat finds some appealing prey outside — and bird organizations agree.

Birds and other animals don’t have an instinct for associating bells with imminent danger, and cats can learn to move quietly, even with the bell. Instead of saving the birds or small animals outside, you might create a super-stealthy predator — or, as a Petful reader helpfully pointed out, reveal your cat’s exact location to bigger predators.

So if you’re worried about your cat’s attack habits and want to reduce them, forget the bell — instead, use other means, like special fencing or restricted outdoor access.

Although these myths and superstitions aren’t going away anytime soon, it’s good to know the difference between reality and fantasy when it comes to our cats and their safety.

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, has been researching dog and cat breeds for nearly a decade and has observed the animals up close at dog shows in both the United States and the United Kingdom. She is the author of the book One Unforgettable Journey, which was nominated for a Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers Association of America, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. In addition, she was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. Kristine has researched and written about pet behaviors and care for many years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, another bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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