Cat Behavior Myths: 5 More Decoded
Published on October 14, 2016
Unfortunately, there are far too many myths out there about why our cats do the things they do, and more than a few of these misconceptions cast our cats in a negative light. I recently wrote about five of these such myths, and now I’m back with a whole new list.
Here are five fictions that you shouldn’t believe, including misunderstandings about raising kittens and a common (but false!) urban legend that I don’t like to hear repeated.
Myth: Cats who scratch furniture are just badly behaved.
It can be frustrating to come home to a torn-up sofa, but here's the truth: Scratching is a perfectly normal and important cat behavior. It helps your cat release energy, sharpen her claws, stretch her muscles and mark territory. It's unfair to expect your cat not to scratch anything at all, so provide appropriate outlets like horizontal scratching mats or vertical cat towers. Redirect your feline's natural scratching instinct by rewarding her for clawing her new items. Your couch will thank you!
Myth: It's OK to leave cats home alone a lot because they're solitary animals.
Cats often have an unfair reputation as antisocial animals. That generally isn't true — they require play, attention and learning every day! In fact, cats who are left alone for too long too often may show signs of separation anxiety, like vomiting, excessive grooming, lack of appetite and going to the bathroom outside the litterbox. If you think your cat may be suffering from separation anxiety, make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Myth: Cats are evil and will suck the life out of a baby.
This urban legend is totally false and a big disservice to cat-loving families who are welcoming a new baby. There has never been one proven incident of this happening. As a trainer, I know that cats and children can form deep, lasting bonds when their interactions are safely supervised by attentive adults.
Myth: You don't need to teach a kitten anything... they raise themselves.
Socialization and training are important for all cats, and they are critical for young felines who are learning about their environments and what is “safe” and “unsafe.” One of the keys to raising a confident cat is allowing her to experience new sights, sounds and smells, along with facilitating positive interactions with people and other animals. This is so important that I often recommend kitten kindergarten classes to build confidence in new situations, which can dramatically impact your cat's personality and behavior as an adult.
Myth: A cat's meow doesn't mean anything, so just ignore it.
Your cat meows at you because it’s his way of communicating — and it often results in rewards like petting, a treat or even you talking right back to him. But excessive meowing is sometimes caused by medical problems like dementia, hyperthyroidism and high blood pressure. If you notice a change in your cat's meowing, visit the vet to investigate whether it's being caused by an underlying health issue.