Posted: May 12, 2016 12:00 AM MDT
Updated: Jul 15, 2016 05:34 AM MDT
With May marking National Pet Month, check out these common cat myths and misconceptions from Better Homes and Gardens and Hill's Pet Nutrition.
Cats eat grass when they are sick -- Veterinarians have no proven answers as to why cats eat grass. Many think it's to make themselves sick when their tummy is upset, but research indicates they may just like to eat grass.
Putting a bell on cats will keep them from killing birds -- It's been discovered that many belled cats actually become more effective hunters because they learn how to improve their stalking to avoid detection. The best way to protect backyard birds is to keep cats indoors.
Cats always land on their feet -- Because of their flexible backbones and skeletons, cats can usually right themselves if they fall or jump from high places. But if they are dropped under 12 feet, they often cannot turn themselves over before hitting the ground.
Milk is good for cats -- Cats may be attracted to milk and other dairy products, but many cats are lactose-intolerant, meaning a warm saucer of milk will likely give them terrible diarrhea. Cats only require milk from their mother when they are nursing.
Cats can smother newborn babies -- This old wives' tale likely got its start in the Middle Ages, when people believed a cat could steal a baby's soul. The truth is, there's never been a recorded death of a newborn being smothered by a cat. In fact, most cats will steer clear of crying infants.
Pregnant women should get rid of their cats -- It's true that a parasitic disease found in cat feces and litter can cause serious neurological diseases in pregnant women, but expectant mothers can still love and enjoy their feline friends as long as someone else empties the litter box.
Cats purr because they're happy -- No one's really sure why cats purr, but they also do it during times of stress and even when they're dying, so it's not always because they're happy. Some researchers say the pattern and frequency of purring may improve bone density and promote healing.
Table scraps are OK for cats -- Just like dogs, table scraps aren't recommended for cats. They're empty calories and may contain harmful ingredients.
My cat is flicking her tail, she must be happy -- Actually, most cats will wag or flick their tails when they are upset or thinking.
Cats lose their sense of balance without whiskers -- Cats use their whiskers as "feelers," but not to maintain balance. How a cat positions its whiskers can also be an indication of mood.
All calico cats are female -- Most calico and tortie cats are female, but male calico cats do occur in very small numbers (1 in 3,000 kittens) although they are usually sterile.
All cats love catnip -- Most people think all cats go crazy for catnip, but the truth is, just 50 percent of felines are susceptible to the plant's charms. Being attracted to catnip is an inherited trait.
Cats don't need exercise -- You can and should exercise your cat. Felines need mental stimulation as well as physical activity to stay healthy.
Garlic will help cats get rid of worms -- Garlic may, in fact, cause anemia in cats and should be avoided.