Myths & Facts

POPULAR MYTHS

1. Cats are “no-maintenance” pets. Because cats are litter-trained, some people think that simply giving their cat food and water is enough. Not so. Cats also need regular veterinary care and, just as important, lots of love and attention.

2. Cats always land on their feet. While cats can often land on their feet after a short fall, falling from heights is another story. Upper-level windows and porches, unless securely screened, should be off-limits to cats, particularly in high-rise buildings.

3. Cats can’t be trained. Cats will, of course, do things their way if left to their own devices. But most cats can be taught to obey simple rules like not scratching the couch, eating plants or jumping up on the kitchen counter. Repeated, gentle and consistent training gets results. Also, if a cat understands the rules and has an approved outlet for her scratching impulses, such as a sturdy scratching post, there will be no need to have her declawed, a painful and unnecessary operation.

4. Cats aren’t happy unless they can go outside to roam and hunt. Cats like to play, prowl and pounce, and they can do all those activities indoors with you and a few toys-without being exposed to predators, disease, traps, poison and traffic. Indoor cats are healthier, happier-and safer!

5. Cats become fat and lazy after they are spayed or neutered. Cats, just like people, generally become fat because they eat too much and don’t get enough exercise. The fact is cats that are spayed or neutered live longer lives and make better companions. And they don’t contribute to the pet-overpopulation problem in this country, where millions of unwanted cats and dogs are destroyed every year. There’s no need to wait until a female cat has had a litter to have her spayed; it can be done before her first heat cycle.

6. Cats can see in the dark. Cats cannot see in total darkness any better than a person can. They can see better than other animals in semidarkness, however, because of their eyes’ anatomy.

7. Cats don’t need to wear a collar and tag. An identification tag is a lost cat’s ticket home. Every cat, even an indoor cat, should wear a collar with an ID tag to help him come home if he is lost. Many cat owners believe a collar can injure a cat, but a breakaway collar lets a cat escape if the collar becomes snagged.

8. Cats who disappear for a couple of days are just out hunting; there’s no need to worry. The prolonged disappearance of any pet is cause for alarm. Cats are no exception, and as domestic animals, they cannot cope with the dangers posed by the outdoors. For their own safety and well-being, cats should always be kept indoors, but if your cat does somehow become lost, he needs to be looked for immediately-before it’s too late.

9. Cats will suck the breath from sleeping infants. Curious by nature, a cat may want to climb into the crib to see what new manner of squalling creature her family has brought home. But she won’t suck the baby’s breath. She may feel a little jealous, however, so introductions should be gradual. Lots of lavish attention will also help reassure her that she’s still an important member of the family. Cats can suffer from sibling rivalry too!

10. Cats are aloof, independent animals and don’t really want a lot of attention from humans. Cats are domestic animals because they live in the home. They crave human companionship and establish loving bonds with their human families. They may not always show it, but that’s just the feline way. If you toss the cat outdoors, or spend little time with him, you’ll never know the rewarding-and very special-relationship that comes from making a cat a true member of the family.

11. Cats are unloving creatures. Cats frequently follow people from room to room or curl up in a lap for petting. The notion of unfriendly cats might stem from behavior changes cats experience with maturation. A growing kitten becomes increasingly less dependent and might seek out owners less frequently.

12. Indoor cats cannot acquire diseases. In fact, indoor cats can be exposed to airborne organisms or those brought in on your shoes and clothing.

13. Pregnant women should not own cats. Toxoplasmosis can cause prenatal complications and infected cats occasionally spread the disease to humans via litter boxes. Expectant mothers should assign daily litter box cleaning to another family member, but giving up your can absolutely isn’t necessary.

14. Cats are finicky eaters. Finicky eaters are taught, not born. Feeding your cat only one type of food contributes to a finicky lifestyle. Instead, offer your cat a variety of tastes by slowly switching balanced, nutritional cat foods every few months. However, don’t expect your cat, a natural carnivore, to share all your food tastes.

SPREAD THE TRUTH

Use these four techniques to dispel myths:

  • Educate early. Give children the facts about cats at home and in school. When reading stories that portray cats as evil, cunning or dangerous, explain to children that in real life, the average housecat is none of those things.
  • Teach critical thinking. Encourage children to think for themselves and question generalizations.
  • Help people develop more empathy. Suggest they look at things from a cat’s point of view. When a cat scratches the furniture, brings home a dead bird or “bothers” you while on the phone, stop a minute and think what’s behind the behavior instead of getting mad.
  • Encourage contact with many types of cats in different settings. People find it hard to hold onto negative stereotypes when they see cats’ unique personalities and the affection, loyalty and devotion they exhibit toward humans.

By recognizing the origins of negative feline myths and implementing strategies to overcome them, you can help reduce the number of abused, euthanized or relinquished cats.

FASCINATING FACTS

Did you know?

Each day 10,000 humans are born in the U.S. – and each day 70,000 puppies and kittens are born. As long as these birth rates exist, there will never be enough homes for all the animals. As a result, millions of healthy, loving cats, dogs, kittens and puppies face early deaths as a form of animal control. Others are left to fend for themselves against automobiles, the elements, animals and cruel humans. What can you do to stop the suffering? Spay and neuter your pets! Work with Valley Cats and together we can make a difference.

An unspayed female cat, her mate and all of their offspring, producing 2 litters per year with 2.8 surviving kittens per litter can total:

  • 1 year: 12
  • 2 years: 67
  • 3 years: 376
  • 4 years: 2,107
  • 5 years: 11,801
  • 6 years: 66,088
  • 7 years: 370,092
  • 8 years: 2,072,514
  • 9 years: 11,606,707
Most people don’t know that a cat can have her first litter at the age of four months, and just one litter means that five more good homes must be found! That is why there are so many strays, and why our shelters are full of cats. Do your cat, and everyone a favor …

SPAY YOUR CAT BY THE AGE OF FOUR MONTHS ~ BEFORE HER FIRST LITTER!

Why your cat should be spayed or neutered:

SPAYED (Female)

  • No heat cycles
  • Less desire to roam
  • Risk of mammary gland tumors, ovarian and/or uterine cancer is reduced or eliminated
  • Number of unwanted cats/kittens is at an all-time high

NEUTERED (Male)

  • Reduces or eliminates risk of spraying and marking
  • Less desire to roam
  • Risk of testicular cancer is eliminated
  • Number of unwanted cats/kittens is at an all-time high
PURRING – NOT ALWAYS WHAT YOU THINK

The purr is probably the most singular sound in the feline vocabulary. Unlike the meow, which some people pride themselves on mimicking reasonably well, the purr is a sound that can’t be duplicated with the human mouth and vocal cords. The whirring sound your cat makes when he purrs is created by air passing over his larynx both as he inhales and as he exhales. It’s an effortless sound to make; he could carry it on indefinitely if he wanted to. The purr is one of the most misunderstood feline communications. Many cat owners who thought their cat was expressing contentment have been shocked to get scratched or bitten in their confusion. Cats do purr when they are content. When a mother cat is purring, her kittens are comforted by it. When the kittens purr, she knows they are content and nursing.

Cats can also purr when they are in pain or discomfort. That discomfort can be caused by a physical problem (purring in labor is not uncommon), or it can be caused by an uncomfortable situation. For example, when your petting hand has worn out its welcome, the cat will purr louder and more intensely. The cat will also put its ears back and fan out its whiskers so they come forward. This means the cat is saying he’s irritated, not “I’m enjoying this,” by a long shot. “We don’t know which emotion is affiliated with an aggravated purr, but it seems to result from over stimulation,” explains Dr. Wright. “The position of the ears and whiskers is the best cue owners can watch to avoid being scratched or bitten.”

THE CAT IN YOUR LIFE

It is one of those awful days when your alarm never goes off and you spend the entire day playing catch up. While you are running yourself ragged over projects and errands, your car gives in to old age and goes caput. After the tow truck takes your car and patience away, it is time to call it a day. Your anxiety and frustration level has hit its all time high. Finally when you make it home you are greeted by two of your biggest fans, Oscar and Sasha, two wonderful felines adopted from the local rescue group. An uneventful day has yet to occur since their arrival.

Still reeling from the day’s events, you make your way to the room, but not without Sasha doing her usual swift body run against your leg. After dropping your bags and settling in, Oscar makes his way on to your lap and signals that he would enjoy a few scratches behind the ear and neck. As you engage, your body slowly starts to unwind. Your breathing starts to relax. Tension drains from your shoulders. A smile comes about without any force. Before you know it, both you and Oscar are at peace enjoying the moment. In these simple moments, thoughts of the day have drifted further from your mind and your anxiety level has dropped, helping you let go of negative feelings that have accumulated over the last 10 hours.

Sounds unbelievable that a cat can do all this? Well, it is true. Studies have shown that the mere act of stroking a cat for several minutes helps to release “feel good” endorphins in the brain, producing the feeling of tranquility in the stroker. But petting alone is not the only stress reliever. Depression and sadness are heightened by loneliness or a sense of isolation. Pets offer constant companionship and unconditional love. For instance, when the kids have gone off to school or a spouse is lost, being home alone can be overwhelming. But if you have an Oscar or a Sasha to keep you company while reading the morning paper, loneliness isn’t all-encompassing. Their presence helps to contribute to a complete home.

Nurturing a cat is soothing and fulfills that certain need for humans to be caregivers. Shopping takes on an additional dimension when you have a cat at home. Food, litter and toys need to be added to your cart. What fun awaits when you have new treats and toys for the loyal kitty! Cats love to explore and see what is in that shopping bag or behind that most fascinating closet door. Joining in on some interactive cat play with a new feather wand or a kitty fishing pole lightens up your mood. Laughter and smiles seem to come when they usually wouldn’t.

In order to protect our health, studies have shown friends and family support is essential. Pets help us sustain that healthy emotional balance when we treat them as family or friends. Having a cat around contributes to the feeling of family, therefore contributes to a healthy balance. Pet owners enter hospitals less frequently than non-pet owners; and when hospitalized, pet owners have shorter stays. Pet keepers have a reason to get better. They have to get home to the cat!!


The information contained in this guide is compiled from the experiences of various rescue organizations including Valley Cats, Inc.and from information provided to us by several veterinarians. It is meant only as a guide and is not meant to replace any advice or method of treatment prescribed by your veterinarian. We are happy to be of help if you have questions or need advice…

Mailing address:
Valley Cats Inc.,
23705 Vanowen Street, Box 130
West Hills, CA 91307-3030
Tel: (818) 883-5252

Email: valleycatsinc@aol.com

Donations and volunteers are always needed to help us accomplish our mission of rescuing and finding homes for our cats and kittens. We appreciate anything you can offer. All donations go directly toward helping our rescued cats and kittens. We are a volunteer-based organization.

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