10 Cat Myths – Explained


There are a lot of myths about cats, especially concerning black cats. Are they true? Nah, the myths are just that – myths. How did the myths come about and why? Let’s dig in!

Black Cat Myths

Black Cats Bring Bad Luck

Not true and no way to prove this.  However, tied to this is the myth that black cats can make you sick. There may be some credence to that one, as a recent study done in 2000 with 321 patients showed that the patients with dark colored cats suffered a moderate to severe allergy attack 4 times more often than those patients who had light colored cats. Dark cats produce an abundance of an allergen in their saliva and skin, thus provoking more allergic responses.  This being said, I’ve lived with many cats of various colors and have never noticed any difference!

Black Cats Are Witches’ Familiars

In the Middle Ages, black cats were believed to be witches’ familiars – in other words, witches, reincarnated. This myth came about because cats are nocturnal and roamed the countryside at night. Often when a witch was put to death, her familiar was killed with her. Many innocent black cats burned in medieval fires along with their innocent women. Unfortunately, in some places in the world, this fear of the black cats is still just as strong. Sadly, animal shelters refuse to take black cats in some countries. Some Germans still believe that if you are sick and a black cat lies with you, you will die.

Urban Legends about Cats    

Cats Will Suck Breath From a Baby

Some folks believe that if you have a baby, you cannot have a cat. Some people have even given up their cats when their babies were born due to this myth. The myth said that a cat would climb in bed with your baby and suck their breath away, thereby smothering the baby. This myth was so popular at one time in our history that many of us knew you should not have a cat with a baby, but we did not know why. The origins of this myth are unknown. One explanation might be that cats that enjoy milk are attracted by the smell on the baby and jumped into the crib and bumped noses with the baby. It was said that the mother started screaming about the cat in the baby’s bed and started a fancy story. Anyway, this is probably stating the obvious, but cats can’t suck breath from a baby.

Cats Have Nine Lives

This is a belief that could be detrimental to cats if taken seriously. It is attributed to the Egyptians and the sun god Atum-Ra or the Nine. The myth was that this god could take the form of a cat when he went down to the underworld. This belief lent credence to the beliefs through the ages about the mystical and magical nature of the cat. Cats do not have nine lives, but many of us wish they did! Sandi Laird, the animal care director at Operation Kindness, says, “The Egyptians worshiped cats as gods. The god Ra was supposed to be a male cat.  It was punishable by death if someone killed a cat in ancient Egypt.”

Myths about Cat’s Health Issues

cat mythsCats Pee Outside Litter Box When They Are Mad

Cats do get mad, but that is not why they pee outside the litter box occasionally. There are two primary reasons why cats do this. One is that the cat is marking his territory and communicating with you. He is telling you and every other cat within nose shot that this place is all his. Another theory is that your cat just refused to go to the bathroom in the litter box because he is sick. He could have a serious urinary or kidney infection. Take him to the vet immediately to get checked out.

Declawing a Cat is No Big Deal

This myth is very detrimental to cats, because many believe that declawing a cat is just like trimming their nails. It is a big deal, because declawing a cat is just like cutting your fingers off at the first knuckle. Some cats have trouble dealing with life after being declawed – they can become depressed, and other behavioral issues may arise. If a declawed cat goes outdoors, he’ll have no way of defending himself. Declawing cats has even been outlawed in several cities.

Cats Can and Should be Vegetarians

 If you are a vegetarian yourself, you might it’s good for your cats, too. Sorry – cats are carnivores. Cats do not have the physiological makeup to be vegetarians. Left to their own devices, they will hunt and eat meat of some sort – mice and birds for instance. Their digestive systems cannot digest plant life alone and turn it into the nutrients they need. Cats can eat some vegetables, which are already in their cat food, but they need a mostly meat-based diet.

Cats Always Land on Their Feet

Do you wonder why so many of these myths are harmful to cats? No – cats don’t always land on their feet.  Yes, cats are very agile. This led to the belief that they would always land on their feet. They can spin around quickly to try to land on their feet when they fall, but they don’t always.

A Myth about Cat Personalities

Cats Are Cold and Aloof

This myth says that cats are solitary creatures and do not need to or want to be with people. This belief has led to another incorrect belief that cats should live outside rather than inside. It also leads to the belief that cats can be left alone for days. This is not true, as cats need affection, love and relationships. They might not show their appreciation as enthusiastically as dogs do, but they do show it in their own ways. They love to be a part of a family.

Nicky LaMarco has been a freelance writer since 2001. Nicky is an experienced ghostwriter and copywriter. She also writes for a variety of magazines. Nicky lives in Maine with her husband, two daughters, and two cats. Learn more about her at www.nickylamarco.com.