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Myths and Facts About Cats


Are these statements true or false?  

  • Cats always land on their feet.
  • Cats should drink milk everyday.

The correct answer to both is FALSE.

These are common misunderstandings that veterinarians frequently hear from pet owners, according to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). Following is a list of popular myths that AAHA veterinarians and The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) would like to dispel.

Myth: Cats always land on their feet.
Fact: While cats instinctively fall feet first and may survive falls from high places, they also may receive broken bones in the process. Some kind of screening on balconies and windows can help protect pets from disastrous falls.

Myth: Cats should drink milk everyday.
Fact: Most cats like milk, but do not need it if properly nourished. Also, many will get diarrhea if they drink too much milk. If it is given at all, the amount should be small and infrequent.

Myth: Cats that are spayed or neutered automatically gain weight.
Fact: Like people, cats gain weight from eating too much, not exercising enough or both. In many cases, spaying or neutering is done at an age when the animal's metabolism already has slowed, and its need for food has decreased. If the cat continues to eat the same amount, it may gain weight. Cat owners can help their cats stay fit by providing exercise and not over-feeding.

Myth: Cats cannot get rabies.
Fact: Actually, most warm-blooded mammals, including cats, bats, skunks and ferrets, can carry rabies. Like dogs, cats should be vaccinated regularly according to local laws.

Myth: Indoor cats cannot get diseases.
Fact: Cats still are exposed to organisms that are carried through the air or brought in on a cat owner's shoes or clothing. Even the most housebound cat ventures outdoors at some time and can be exposed to diseases and worms through contact with other animals feces.

Myth: Tapeworms come from bad food.
Fact: Pets become infected with tape worms from swallowing fleas, which carry the parasite. Also, cats can get tapeworms from eating infected mice or other exposed animals.

Myth: Putting garlic on a pet's food will get rid of worms.
Fact: Garlic may make the animal's food taste better but has no effect on worms. The most effective way to treat worms is by medication prescribed by a veterinarian.

Myth: Pregnant women should not own cats.
Fact: Some cats can be infected with a disease called toxoplasmosis, which occasionally can be spread to humans through cat litter boxes and cause serious problems in unborn babies. However, these problems can be controlled, if the expectant mother avoids contact with the litter box and assigns daily cleaning to a friend or other family member.

Myth: A cat's sense of balance is in its whiskers.
Fact: Cats use their whiskers as "feelers" but not to maintain their balance.

Myth: Animals heal themselves by licking their wounds.
Fact: Such licking actually can slow the healing process and further damage the wound.

For the most accurate information on these and other concerns about pet health care, the American Animal Hospital Association and The Cat Fanciers' Association advise cat owners to contact a veterinarian.

The AAHA is an international association of more than 12,000 veterinarians who treat companion animals, such as cats and dogs. The association is well-known among veterinarians for its high standards for hospitals and pet health care.

The CFA is the world's largest registry of pedigreed cats and has reaffirmed its commitment to the promotion of the welfare of ALL cats, pedigreed or random bred.

The Winn Feline Foundation was founded in 1968 by CFA as a source of funding for medical studies benefiting cats. The Winn Foundation has provided funds over the years for a wide variety of studies and has helped to advance veterinary knowledge in all areas of feline health. Grants totaling more than $1.2 million have been awarded by the Winn Foundation since its inception.

For additional information on CFA, AAHA or the Winn Foundation, please contact:

The Cat Fanciers' Association, Inc.
260 East Main Street
Alliance, OH 44601
Phone: 330-680-4070
Fax: 330-680-4633

American Animal Hospital Association
PO Box 150899
Denver CO 80215-0899
Phone: 303-986-2800

The Winn Feline Foundation
260 East Main Street
Alliance, OH 44601
Phone: 330-680-4070