Think again about unlucky cats
Here are a few more moggy myths!
1. Black cats are unlucky
Black cats have been the subject of myth and folklore for centuries, and while in some countries they are considered unlucky, the felines are said to bring good fortune in other parts of the world.
In Japan, it is thought to be good luck if a black cat crosses your path, but in much of Europe and the US, the presence of a black cat is considered to mean that bad luck is on its way.
In Germany it depends which direction a black cat walks in front of you. Left to right means good times ahead, but right to left means the opposite.
Some Italians believe that if a black cat jumps on the bed next to a sick person, the person will soon die.
If a black cat appears on your doorstep in Scotland, tradition suggests you could be coming into money, while in China, some believe black cats to be bringers of poverty.
Sadly, unwanted and abandoned black cats are notoriously difficult to rehome thanks to superstition and myth so it seems they are the unlucky ones. In reality, the only supernatural powers black cats possess are ones of unconditional love and affection, just like any other cat.
2. All cats hate water
Most domestic moggies are not big fans of water, but anyone who’s ever Googled cat videos will know that not all of them hate getting wet.
Scientists think the reason most cats hate water could be because cats’ coats don’t dry very quickly, which can leave them feeling pretty uncomfortable and possibly cold. The weight of the water is also likely to weigh the usually-agile animal down, which means they can’t escape perceived danger as quickly. Another reason is that cats’ original descendants evolved in desert areas, where the land is baron and has very little rain, if any at all.
Some people spray water at cats in an attempt to get them to stop doing something. Imagine how you’d feel if someone suddenly sprayed water in your face and you should begin to understand why cats don’t like it.
If you do need to bathe your cat for medical reasons, use a little bit of positive encouragement such as a favourite treat while gently introducing them to the water.
3. Cats are unloving, if you want a loving pet get a dog
Perhaps the greatest debate of modern times is whether dogs or cats make better pets, and one argument on the side of dogs is that cats are unloving.
Domestic cats are, by their nature, more independent than domestic dogs – in part because they weren’t bred to spend a lot of time around humans, and also because the wild ancestors of our house felines don’t live naturally in the same sort of family groups that canines do.
A recent study by the University of Lincoln found that cats don’t show signs of distress when their owners leave, and aren’t particularly bothered when their owner returned to them.
But, as anyone who’s come home from a hard day’s graft to have their cat jump on to their lap for a fuss will testify, cats do show affection towards their owners and many do like to be stroked and patted.
Purring is surely evidence enough that…
4. Cats always land on their feet
More often than not, cats will land on their feet when they fall from a height. This is because they have what is called a ‘righting reflex’, whereby they’re able to twist around very quickly in the air when falling. They also have very flexible backbones, which help them in doing this.
But sadly, this isn’t always the case. Every year our animal hospitals treat cats which have fallen from great heights, often out of windows several storeys high. Some make a recovery, but devastatingly, lots don’t make it. And some of those who don’t succumb to their injuries do suffer life-changing damage that can be expensive to treat for owners without pet insurance.
5. Do cats have nine lives?
Like the rest of us, cats only have one life – so where does the saying ‘cats have nine lives’ come from? Nobody really knows the origin of this myth, exactly, but there are a number of possibilities – from William Shakespeare to ancient Egypt.
In the play Romeo and Juliet, the bard refers to the nine lives of cats. Meanwhile an old proverb of unknown origin claims: “A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays and for the last three he stays.” In ancient Egypt, cats were treated as sacred animals and were worshiped as divine creatures with psychic or supernatural powers, so some think the myth could have originated there as it fits in with their view of cats.
But, it’s more than likely that the myth has developed over time due to cats’ ability to get themselves out of sticky situations, with their agility and dexterity. Over time, moggies have survived falls from great heights and even earthquakes, so it’s not surprising they have earned their nine lives title.