Owning a cat is a mutually beneficial relationship but it also comes with responsibilities. Although felines are known to be more independent than dogs, they still require effort, money, and time to care for. So, before you bring home a new kitten, below are the certain things that humans misunderstand about cats, according to veterinary technicians and veterinarians consulted by media company Insider.
7. Cats always love human attention
Cats love human attention. However, they enjoy it in smaller doses compared to dogs and the attention should be on their terms. This means that cat owners should never force attention on their felines and understand when it wants to be alone, according to veterinarian Wendy Hauser. Pet parents should respect the animal’s basic needs and not hold them against their will. As much as owners love their cat, they may sometimes not reciprocate the affection. When a cat is uncomfortable, it could develop some mistrust and fear toward the person.
Certified cat behaviorist Russel Hartstein previously shared that a lowered horizontal tail or a generally lowered tail means that the feline is in a hostile, aggressive, or retreat mood. It is also a sign of fear. On the other hand, a question mark shape or upright tail is a positive mood indicator.
6. It’s okay to “hand play” with cats
Owners sometimes use their hands as lures during playtime with their cats. This is not advised because cats may begin to think that fingers or hands are appropriate objects for hunting. The result can be potentially dangerous not only to the cat but to the person as well. Remember that felines are hardwired to hunt and chase prey.
5. Yarn is a safe toy for cats
Felines tend to make strings and yarns their favorite playthings. Zoologists have explained that it has something to do with their natural hunting instincts. They survive in the wild by catching their prey so anything that dangles or moves, like a rolling ball of yarn, activates their predatory instincts. Other experts theorized that the way yarn dangles or rolls remind felines of snakes, which are their top competitors when hunting for prey in the wild. This is why they attack it defensively. However, former veterinary technician Jaimee Alsing said that yarn is a dangerous toy for cats. Veterinarians call it a linear foreign body when cats ingest a string of yarn. It is so unsafe that it could potentially knot or scrunch their intestines, requiring surgery for its removal.
4. Direct punishment teaches the cat that their behavior is unacceptable
Some dog owners find it effective to jingle coins or use a loud sound, stomp their feet, or clap their hands as forms of direct punishment to teach their pet that their behavior is unacceptable. This does not apply to cats though, because it may lead to unwanted consequences. For example, cats may avoid you because they are highly sensitive to noise. When a cat hears a raised voice, it may perceive it as a threat and avoid it. Instead of punishing the cat, find an appropriate outlet so that it will not repeat the behavior you find unacceptable.
3. It’s healthy to free-feed cats
Free-feeding a cat is not healthy and can lead to pet obesity, according to veterinarian Gary Richter. It is important that pet owners just provide an appropriate quantity of wet and hard food that your vet has recommended. An automatic food dispenser for your cat that releases food at time intervals is a better option than free-feeding.
In a survey involving 1,004 pet owners in Sweden., 77.1% of them answered "no” when asked if they think their pet is suffering from obesity. Others answered the following: "Yes, very much" (0.9%), "Yes, a bit" (21.2%), and "Don’t know" (0.7%). The survey was conducted in 2016 by database company Statista. In the United States, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has shared that 60% of cats in the country were obese or overweight in 2018, or equivalent to 56 million cats. Like in humans, excessive fat in cats increases their risk of health conditions.
The most common obesity-related conditions in cats in particular order are the following: bladder/urinary tract disease, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, asthma, liver disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, heart failure, gall bladder disorder, and immobility of the spine, according to pet feeding platform Vet Innovations.
2. Milk is necessary for their nutrition
Most cat owners think that milk is an important part of their pet’s nutrition. Richter, however, explained that most felines are lactose intolerant. This means giving them cow’s milk will lead to health issues. You may think that you are just giving them a sweet treat but cats may suffer stomachaches and other related problems. Pet parents may adore cats so much that they will just give what the cat likes.
Out of 2,149 cat owners in the UK, 27% of them decide by common sense when feeding their cat, 21% by experience, 12% by what the cat likes, 11% based on the veterinary advice, 5% by packet guidelines, and 5% by cat’s weight or body shape.
1. Shaving a cat is good for their health
As tempting as it may be to have a cat with a lion-like haircut, it is not healthy. Cats use their hair to regulate their body temperature so that they can stay cool during summer and warm in the winter. This is why it is not a good idea to shave your cat. Doing so will lessen their ability to regulate their temperature. Vets may advise shaving some of its fur only for medical reasons but not the cropped hairdo just for aesthetics reasons. A good grooming session can last for 5 to 10 minutes and regular brushing is already good. It will keep the cat’s hair in good condition as the natural oil in its hair will spread throughout its coat, keeping its skin irritant-free and clean.
Cats are beautiful creatures and they can give and receive affection to and from humans. They can heal and lower people’s blood pressure by reducing stress and improving our immune functioning, but only if owners are also willing to put in the effort and time to build that relationship and care.