There are perhaps more myths about cats than any other animals: whether it’s having nine lives, hating water, always landing on their feet, or bringing good or bad luck, cats seem to have captured people’s imaginations since ancient times. It’s perhaps no surprise, seeing as cats have been living alongside us humans for thousands of years!
In the modern world we’re slightly less superstitious - or worried about witchcraft - but there are still many often repeated cat claims that might not be as true as you think, so let’s bust some cat myths…
They can see in the dark
Can cats see in the dark? It is true that cats can see better than humans in low light conditions, but in true darkness they can’t see much at all. Their eyesight has developed to allow them to hunt in the low light conditions of dawn and dusk, so you can see where the belief began - but unfortunately it’s just not that true.
Purring means they’re happy
Does purring equal happiness? Well, sometimes it can. Many people believe a purring cat is a happy cat, and this is often the case - but there are other, less happy situations when a cat may purr as well. While happy, contented cats will purr, it can also be a sign that a cat is feeling pain.
It’s thought that cats can purr as a form of self-soothing or pain relief if they’re distressed or in pain - with the vibrations of their purring having healing qualities. And that’s not the only other reason: cats might also purr if they think it’s time for dinner, which is a behaviour learned from the time they spent with their mother!
They hate water
Some cats really don’t like water, but this isn’t the case for all of them. It’s believed that many cats dislike water because their coats don’t dry very well, so getting wet can make them feel uncomfortable and cold - two things any cat hates! A wet, heavy coat can also slow them down, so it’s not ideal for an animal that originally had to hunt for its dinner. It’s more of a personal preference though, as some cats don’t mind water at all - so this is one assumption that doesn’t apply to every cat.
They’re anti-social pets
If you talk to someone who isn’t a cat person, there’s a chance they share the belief that cats are more reserved and aloof as pets, preferring their own company. It’s true that cats are more independent than dogs (most of them, at least!) but that doesn’t make them any less loving or sociable as pets, with many cats loving a good fuss, and happily snuggling up to their humans for attention.
They love milk
In cartoons and old stories you’ve probably heard of people putting out a saucer of milk for the cat - but your feline friend might not thank you for it.
While cats may happily drink milk if it’s given to them, most cats will become lactose intolerant once they’re weaned, and may not be able to properly digest it. If you want to give your cat milk as an occasional little treat, special cat milks exist which are more easily digested by a cat’s tum.
You’ve most probably been woken up by your cat causing some kind of mischief while you’re trying to sleep, and while it may seem like cats are nocturnal, this one isn’t entirely true either. Cats aren’t diurnal (unlike us humans who are active during the day) or nocturnal (active at night) - they’re crepuscular, which means they’re most active in the hours of dawn and dusk. This means that although they’re more active than us during the hours of half-darkness, they’re likely to be asleep during the middle of night, just like us.