4 Lies We Believe About Cats

Whoever does their P.R. is a genius.

Carlos in the undecorated Christmas tree photo by author

Since we brought home our Christmas tree, I’ve had this verbatim conversation with our cat Carlos several times.

“ Carlos, stop eating the Christmas tree.”

“ Chomp, chomp, chomp.” Carlos pretends that he’s too young to understand the language of the humans.

“ Carlos, you’ll get sick,” I say, trying to reason with a cat.

I pick him up and move him away from the tree. Carlos waits until I’m seated and then goes to the Christmas tree's furthest side away from me.

“ Chomp, chomp, chomp.”

And scene.

I used to believe cats were born with a special talent that prevented them from eating harmful things. Now, I wonder where I got that idea in the first place.

There must be a secret public relations firm behind all the false ideas we have about cats.

I don’t know who hired them or who pays whatever media consultancy group, but they’re worth every penny. Why do you think cat videos and pictures dominate the internet? Sure, cats are fascinating and beautiful animals, but so are dogs, birds, or fish.

When’s the last time a fish video went viral?

There are things we believe about cats that are simply untrue. It’s time to examine cats' truth and why we believe the modern-day folklore that surrounds them.

Lie # 1: Cats have an instinct for eating only what’s good for them.

It’s a long-held belief that cats have excellent instincts. I’ve had over twenty cats over my lifetime, and I can tell you they don’t. Not. At. All. If they had such great instincts, why would they try to go outside when they know it’s dangerous, or why would they cozy up to people who have a clear dislike for them?

Cats haven’t a clue about what’s toxic for them.

Since Carlos has come to live with us, I’ve stopped him from eating carpet thread, bugs, fir-needles, and pillow stuffing. He’s only six months old, so he gets a pass.

My late cat, Yoshi, liked to eat plastic, and no matter how diligent we were about keeping any stray pieces of it away from him, he had an uncanny gift of finding them.

Once another of our cats, Ray, ate a ribbon. I don’t think it was during holiday time either. We didn’t know what was wrong with him as he was lethargic — that was before the ribbon passed through his intestines enough to hang out of his butt.

Oh, what fun Yoshi had chasing the ribbon coming out of Ray’s backside as if he were a feline maypole.

Don’t worry, once we caught him, extracted the ribbon, and disposed of it, Ray was fine.

See what I mean about terrible instincts?

Cats are very discreet when it comes to bathroom habits.

Yes, some are, but others not so much. Our neighbor’s cat used to go to the bathroom on top of another neighbor’s garage. Only those up high enough could look down and see that the roof was covered with cat poop.

What about the cats who do their business then run out of their litter box as if they had just taken a dip in the fountain of youth, or they downed an energy drink?

The least discreet litter box users have to be the diggers. They dig and dig, long after whatever they were trying to cover up is buried. Sometimes they dig so much; they uncover what they buried in the first place.

Cats are light on their feet.

The expression, “The fog came in on little cat’s feet” is a more poetic way of saying, quietly. Unfortunately, there’s nothing quiet about moving cats. One tiny cat can sound like a herd of elephants, and the sound of two or more cats might be likened to the loud rumbling of an earthquake or a plane landing.

When any of my cats jump from a table to the floor or from the cat tree to anywhere, it’s neither quiet nor soft. This is especially the case when they get a burst of energy in the wee hours of the morning and engage in a game of tag.

In fact, it’s staggering how much noise a small cat can make just walking from one room to the next.

Someone must have thought, spreading the idea that cats were mostly silent was more on-brand than the truth — cats may not bark, but they know how to bring the noise and the stomp!

Cats love milk.

There’s a wildly held misconception that cats should be fed milk. The truth is most cats are lactose-intolerant, and if you feed them dairy, then they may have stomach issues, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Milk not only isn’t a treat for cats, but it’s also not good for them to be on a dairy-heavy diet, so take away that saucer of milk.

The good news is that cats are wonderful companions and beautiful creatures and are so entertaining that we don't care even when we know the truth.

Cats don’t need any spin — they already have the best public relations just by being themselves.

Catness

Cat photos, cat artwork, cat stories, cat poems

Christine Schoenwald

Written by

Writer for The Los Angeles Times, Salon, The Startup, Tenderly, Fearless She Wrote, MuddyUm. Christineschoenwaldwriter.com

Catness

Catness

Cat photos, cat artwork, cat stories

Christine Schoenwald

Written by

Writer for The Los Angeles Times, Salon, The Startup, Tenderly, Fearless She Wrote, MuddyUm. Christineschoenwaldwriter.com

Catness

Catness

Cat photos, cat artwork, cat stories

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