We have more cats in our care than any other animal. This year we’ve taken in 20 per cent more than during the same period last year!
We’re getting to the bottom of some of the myths surrounding cats to help people better understand our feline friends and create more homes for the high numbers in animal centres.
Our scientific officer and cat welfare expert Alice Potter said:
“One of the most common reasons that people call the RSPCA about giving up their cat for adoption is because they are expecting a baby. How much of this stems from these misconceptions is not known, but the reality is that cats make great family pets.
“This, and the belief that cats should have kittens before being spayed means that we have high numbers of unwanted cats in rescue centres.
“We would encourage anyone thinking of getting a cat to first consider adopting one in our care desperately looking for a home.”
Our experts respond to the most common myths:
1. Black cats are unlucky
Not true! Black cats won’t bring you good or bad luck. More than 70 per cent of the cats in our care are black or black-and-white, as this is the most common colour – not because they are unlucky! If you’re considering adopting a cat, base your decision on character rather than colour. To see the cats in our care, please visit Find a Pet.
2. Pregnant women can’t live with cats
In rare cases touching cat litter or faeces while pregnant, not washing your hands and then handling food can cause toxoplasmosis. This can be harmful to unborn children, but can also be caught from handling raw meat or gardening or avoided with basic hygiene. New mothers may worry that a cat could harm or suffocate their baby. Take sensible precautions like not leaving your cat unsupervised until they can interact safely and your cat will continue to be a member of the family.
3. Cats should have a litter before neutering
According to one of our studies, more than a third of cat owners believe a cat should have a litter of kittens before being spayed. A cat can get pregnant from as young as four months and vets and welfare charities recommend that you spay your cat at this age to stop accidental litters. Our study also showed that 85 per cent of litters are unplanned.
4. Cats have nine lives
While some cat owners may suspect that their cats have escaped death with their prowess in fact this is a common myth. This myth has been around centuries, possibly even since Egyptian times! Typically cats live for fourteen years, but many live for longer.
5. Milk is good for cats
Water is all cats need to drink once they have been weaned at eight to twelve weeks. They are unable to digest lactose so giving cats milk can be harmful and cause stomach cramps and diarrhoea. Cats should have constant access to fresh drinking water.
6. Cats like to live indoors
There is some truth in this. Some cats like their home comforts and have adapted to living without outdoor access. However cats used to going outside may find this more difficult. Many cats enjoy spending time outside, climbing, running and lying in the sunshine! Some indoor environments can become boring, leading to stress, inactivity and obesity. We don’t recommend keeping cats that are used to going outside, as ‘indoor-only cats’, except for health reasons.
7. Cats purr only when happy
A cat’s purr is associated with contentment but can actually mean a range of emotions including stress. It is caused when signals in the brain cause muscles in the voice bow to vibrate.
8. Cats always land on their feet
As an active animal a cat’s survival depends on its ability to survive falls. Cats have a flexible spine and no collarbone allowing them to use their hind legs to right themselves during a fall. Cats are capable of landing on their feet but at some heights they are unable to right themselves. More importantly landing on their feet doesn’t always mean they get away unharmed!
9. Cats are nocturnal
Typically cats are most active at dusk and dawn and this is known as crepuscular. This is because this is when prey is most active.
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