Today we’re going to examine some beliefs that pass as common knowledge or folklore regarding certain feline behaviors. Many of these myths are false although some may have some glimmer of truth to them.
Cats are natural climbers. They will climb trees, cabinets, curtains or whatever is in their environment to climb. Climbing is a way for them to survey their environment and it’s also a safety mechanism allowing them to quickly escape from danger, be it the family dog or a predator. They are built for climbing. While they possess a natural ability for climbing, they also fall, and they fall a LOT. Even so, they don’t seem to hurt themselves and they seem to naturally land on their feet and easily make their escape. Is that just good luck or is there something else at play?
It’s physics at play. Cats possess the body structure and a ‘righting’ reflex that allows them to quickly twist and turn their bodies and land upright given enough space (about 12 inches). The ability stems in large part from their extremely flexible spine and lack of a collarbone along with flexibility in their bones and ligaments.
The answer to this myth is TRUE, cats usually do land on their feet.
You can’t miss the volume of cat videos on the internet. A good portion of those videos are pitiful cats getting baths or cats falling into the tub and scurrying out of it as fast as they can. But do cats really hate water as the myth goes?
The answer to this myth is FALSE.
Many big and small cats love water and will even swim to cool off or sit by a stream to fish. They also have a fascination with faucets and love playing with water streaming from the kitchen faucet. They aren’t fans of the bath, but that may be due to their independent streak as much as the water of a bath. Being held down and forced to do something not of their own choosing does not sit well with independent minded cats.
A long-standing belief is that cats love milk. You will see this played out in every TV show where a stray cat is given a bowl of milk in order to woo them to safety. Cats may indeed like milk or more specifically cream, but it is not good for them.
Cats do not digest milk easily and it can lead to stomach upset or diarrhea. Yes, cats are lactose-intolerant. There is no need to give your cat milk, cow’s milk in particular is problematic since it is higher in lactose, but even goat’s milk or other substitutes should be avoided. It’s important to note that there are no nutrients in milk that are essential to cats, so while they may love drinking milk, or cream it’s really not good for them and should be avoided.
The answer to this myth is TRUE but giving your cat milk should be avoided. Note that kittens are an exception as they can more easily digest milk due until about 8 weeks of age.