Cats: Five Common Myths

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Liz loves animals. Seeing them ill, hurt, or killed breaks her heart. She advocates for "adopt, don't shop" and TNR programs for feral cats.

Cats Will Be Cats. .

Cats are unique. They can be trained, but it takes a person with a good deal of patience.

Cats will respond to your voice, and come to you, if you have never hurt them. They will gladly come over to be petted or to sit in your lap.

Of course, they can be independent cusses, and if you pick them up, will jump right down again; only to turn around and jump right back up in your lap because that time, it was their idea!

Let's examine these 5 common myths:

  1. Cats are light on their feet
  2. Cats are graceful
  3. Cats are anti-social
  4. Cats are dignified
  5. Cats are lazy

Read on and find the truth about these fascinating creatures.

Myth Number One: Cats Are Light on Their Feet

Well, they can be—if they want to.

The truth is, however, they can be very heavy-pawed, making sounds that would seem to come from a much larger animal. Is that part of their defensive mechanism, like fluffing their fur to appear larger in the face of a threat?

When they jump down from some high perch, it sounds as if a bowling ball is hitting the floor! For some reason, this is especially true if they are jumping from some surface where they know very well they are not allowed. It is as if they are saying, "What? No, I wasn't on the counter! See? I'm on the floor!"

Then, there are the midnight races up and down the hallway. Kalump, kalump, kalump! It is a game cat owners know as "THoE" or "Thundering Herds of Elephants."

So much for being light on their feet! Myth busted!

Myth Number Two: Cats Are Graceful

Maybe I have unusual cats. I've seen some pretty ungraceful moves. But then again, any search of You Tube will bring up countless videos of cats doing some pretty clumsy things.

A couple of mine are true klutzes as well. I just lack the video equipment to prove it. I will leave you to judge by the video compilation below.

Myth busted: cats are klutzes!

Myth Number Three: Cats Are Anti-Social

Now, I know, some of you are thinking, "Oh, they only come around when they want food, or to sleep on your bed."

That may be true to some extent, but with all of our cats, and I'm sure other cat owners can vouch for this: most cats love to cuddle, be petted, and sing you beautiful purr songs to help you drift off to sleep. They may enjoy the soft bed, but they can just as well sleep at the foot of the bed. Snuggling with you is a sign of true affection, especially when it's summer, and they are not needing to share your warmth.

Of course, there is always the one who wants to act like a jerk, but that only proves that cats, like people, are individuals each with their own personalities. Don't we all know people who are jerks?

Furthermore, two of our cats are bonafide "nurse cats," who have helped both my husband and me when we were not feeling well. My late husband was a heart patient, and the one cat was his particular overnight companion when he was going through a very bad spell. If he was distressed during his sleep, she would know and wake him up so he could use his medication.

Busted! Cats are alert and capable of caring concern.

Myth Number Four: Cats Are Dignified

This goes a little bit along the same lines with them being graceful, but again, not so much.

Cats are clowns, and even grown cats can act in very kittenish ways, sometimes resulting in hilarious outcomes. Check it out below:

Myth busted! Cats are silly!

Myth Number Five: Cats Are Lazy

Oh, well . hmm . .

Let's see: They have high energy, can leap up to six times their own height, can sprint at speeds up to an astonishing 31 miles per hour. (No wonder you can't catch them when it's time to go to the vet or give medicine!)

On the other hand, cats sleep up to 15 hours a day. But, it's not being lazy, it's conserving energy for all those high-energy pounces and chases, just like their wild cousins.

Well, maybe partly lazy—I may have to give you that one.

Cat Poll

© 2015 Liz Elias

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on January 20, 2017:

Hello, Dolores,

Thank you for sharing about your special fur-child, Banjo. I do think they also have ESP! They KNOW when we're about to go out for a while! As far as understanding language, you'd better believe it! We have to spell out the word "treats," if they are not about to get any just then! LOL

And, one of them is a real 'nurse cat.' She stayed faithfully by my husband's side all night for the three years he was really ill; if his breathing became labored, she would wake him, so he could take his medication. Now that he is not in such distress, she shares her nightly time between us. :-)

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on January 19, 2017:

Hi Liz - it wasn't until later in my life that a cat moved in with us. He busted all the myths or silly ideas that I previously had about cats. Banjo (the cat) can understands actual words, I am sure of that. He hangs close or sits in my lap if I am downhearted. He understands and responds to 2 step commands. People think you make this stuff up about your cat, that you are just cat silly, but I've learned a lot about assumptions from Banjo!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on January 13, 2016:

Hi, phoenix--

LOL--yes they do love the 'peanuts.' Be advised that those do have static cling, and it can be just as funny when they exit the box... have your camera ready! ;)

As for leaving you alone when you want to write--don't bet on it--they can be just that ornery! ;)

Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on January 13, 2016:

I've been through all that with the two 'roomies'. Love the 'cats in peanuts' video. I'll have to try that. Maybe that will keep them occupied and they'll quit yowling at me to play when I'm trying to write. lol

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 08, 2015:

Hello, Scribenet!

I'm glad you enjoyed the article. I had fun putting it together. We have 7 of the darlings; some of them are featured in the article. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing about your cat.

Maggie Griess from Ontario, Canada on October 08, 2015:

Great Hub. Having a cat myself, who knows my moods and is a clown and a cuddler (when he feels like it), I was nodding my head in agreement.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on August 21, 2015:

LOL, alexadry--I can well imagine. That is too funny. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience. I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

Adrienne Farricelli on August 21, 2015:

Your "cats are not light-footed" section brought back memories of two black kittens I fostered. When they were playing on the second floor they were as loud as bisons. Indeed, we nicknamed them "tatanka."

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on August 11, 2015:

Hello, Bredavies,

Yes, cats are very empathetic. They always know when you need a cuddle, and when you're "good to go." A cat video festival sounds wonderful! Have a great time, and do write about it when you return!

Bredavies on August 11, 2015:

Hilarious and very informative. My cat, Rider, can sense when you are sad..everytime I have been upset he curls up on my lap and purrs. If I'm happy he ignores me, haha. This reminds me of the cat video festival I am attending next week. Thanks for the read!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on August 07, 2015:

Hello there, RTalloni!

Indeed--I do think they are the best pet. Our count is now at 7, and there is will stay; we cannot afford to take in any others, though if I had unlimited funds, I'd have the biggest and grandest cat rescue outfit on the planet! ;-)

As we grow older ourselves, and as we lose our precious fur-friends to old age, (a sad fact of living with those with so much shorter life spans than our own), we will probably not get any more as kittens, because it would not be fair to the kitty to end up palmed off onto someone else, or worse, end up in a shelter, because they outlived US. In the future, we would probably adopt senior kitties who need a loving home for their golden years.

Thanks so much for your wonderful comment.

RTalloni on August 07, 2015:

There's nothing like a kitten to bring some lively smiles to a household, and then there is the pleasure of getting to know them as they grow and become a valued companion. Myths? What anyone who believes myths need is experience! Thanks for a fun look at one of the best pets a person can have, or in my opinion, the best. :)

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 27, 2015:

Hi, peachpurple!

LOL Yes, they do look so regal when walking. Other times, not so much. Thanks much for stopping by and adding your experience. ;-)

peachy from Home Sweet Home on July 27, 2015:

cute myths i must say. do sound heavy when they jump from a high place, they aren't graceful except for the catwalk

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 14, 2015:

Hi Stephanie!

Yes, they are certainly individuals, are they not? We regard our kitties as our last remaining connection to sanity in this crazy world.

Thanks much for your insight.

Stephanie Henkel from USA on July 14, 2015:

I love cats, and your article certainly showed their true nature! While cats can be graceful, light on their feet, and dignified, they can also be incredibly clumsy and silly. My two cats are as different as possible, but they bring me smiles every day!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 12, 2015:

Hi, Sage!

Well that's good to know! LOL

Thank you very much. I'm delighted you enjoyed this article. ;-)

Mackenzie Sage Wright on July 12, 2015:

The writing is great (and yes, you win, I am convinced and will no longer say these things about cats, lol), but omg the pics & videos-- so adorable. Thanks so much for sharing.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on June 14, 2015:

Hello, MsDora!

Thanks very much for your comment; I'm so glad you enjoyed this hub. The kitty who is the "nurse cat" is the first one pictured at the top of this article. She is indeed precious.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 14, 2015:

Most cats I've seen are the way you describe yours--except for that wonderful creature that is your husband's helper. What a blessing! I enjoy the read.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on June 13, 2015:

Hi there, FlourishAnyway!

LOL poor dear kitty boy!

I don't have any like that, but our most senior kitty ( who recently had to be helped across the Rainbow Bridge), spent the last 2 years of her life out in our shop, because she could not remember where the litter box was, or what it was for...and concrete is a lot easier to clean than carpet!

She was well loved to the end; and had it good out there--none of the other cats to annoy her, as she'd gotten a bit grumpy with them, and she had her nice cushy bed, and central heat and air. ;-)

Glad you enjoyed this tongue-in-cheek post. Thanks for sharing your story.

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 13, 2015:

They are all such individuals. I enjoy them more than an most people. I have one that we nicknamed DumDum because he forgets which door is which in my house after living here for 5 years and each morning must be taken to his food. The poor dear is easily distracted but we sure love him.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on June 11, 2015:

Hi, drbj!

LOL Yes, indeed, cats do have staff! There is also the old saying of "cats were once worshipped as gods; they have not let us forget."

Glad you enjoyed this whimsical ramble; thanks much for the vote!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on June 11, 2015:

I've never owned a cat - only dogs. But that didn't stop me from enjoying your busted myths scenario. Voted this one Up, Liz.

Friends who have owned cats and dogs tell me their cats are usually more independent than dogs. Guess it's true what they say: dogs have owners. Cats have staff.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on June 11, 2015:

Hello, sallybea,

Oh, how sad. I'm so sorry you lost your beautiful fur-friend. They do have a way of wrapping our hearts around their adorable little paws.

I'm sure there is no terror; only harmony, on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. ;-) Thanks so much for sharing about Sylvester.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on June 11, 2015:


My one and the only cat I owned lived for around a year. He was hit by a car when I called him for dinner. I found him frozen and stone cold laying on the ground the next morning. He was quite a character, but I learned soon on that all cats are murderers! I also learned they are also very generous in nature. He brought me gifts aplenty, usually in the form of little dead creatures, poor little birds, mice, and crickets. Why oh why did I love Sylvester as much as I did?

Thanks for reminding of my fella who is probably terrorizing all the little creatures in the spirit world.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on June 10, 2015:

@ Bob Bamberg - What you say is true; I was mostly writing in a humorous vein. ;-) I know what you mean about them heading for the carpet at the most inopportune times! Sometimes, I can catch them, and as you say, escort them to a hard-surface, and sometimes, I even manage to position their head over the litter box, so I don't have any mess to clean off the floor. However, with one of them, she's too quick, and that doesn't work; trying to chase her only results in scattered 'deposits' down the hall or under the table. Better, then, to just let her get it out, and them deal with it later. Good thing I have my own carpet shampoo machine!

Glad you enjoyed the hub; thanks much for sharing your experience and the votes!

@ bravewarrior - So true. They are wonderful companions. We like dogs, too, but no longer have the physical stamina to deal with them; they are definitely much more high-maintenance than cats. Cheers!

@ billybuc - Ah..but you have a cat now; s/he will win you over, and you'll be converted in no time! ;-) Did I mention cats can also be quite manipulative? ;-) Thanks much for sharing!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 10, 2015:

I really can't vote intelligently on this one. I'm not a cat person and the one we have now is the first I've lived with. I will say without hesitation that our cat is not boring and often entertaining....kind of like me. LOL

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 10, 2015:

Lizzy, some of the myths are true and some aren't. Actually, most of the myths you cite are truths at one point or another in a cat's life. I guess I could have have voted "sometimes", but that wouldn't do justice to the majesty of cats.

I'd give my eye teeth to be a cat!

Only a cat lover knows the true value they give to our lives. In my opinion, they are better than dogs. They don't require the maintenance of dogs (walking to pee and poop, etc.) and they seem to have an inherent connection with their human counterparts. Yes, dogs do too, but cats can go to their litter boxes when their humans are down for the (temporary) count. Thus, you bi-pass accidents on the floor. Cats are self-sufficient; all they need is love and they give it back in spades.

Bob Bamberg on June 10, 2015:

Fun hub, Lizzy. I don't think you can differentiate between myth and fact. Most cats show both sizes of each coin. With my cat, everything was on her terms. She was a good lap cat when it suited her, she'd play with us when it suited her, she'd eat when it suited her. She'd be a velcro kitty when you were at the keyboard, and when it came time to puke, as she did 3 or 4 times a week, she'd wait until she reached the carpeting before she'd start to wretch. Occasionally, I'd be able to scruff her and carry her to the tiled kitchen floor, which would usually cause the barf to get stifled. She's been gone over 4 years now, and I still expect to see her at the top of the stairs when I start on my way up. Enjoyed the hub...up, funny and interesting.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on June 10, 2015:

Hi, Shauna--You're quick! ;-)

Hmm... what would have been a better answer for you in the poll? ;)

They are like kids in many ways; they can get into all kinds of mischief. But I have to laugh at their antics despite the no-nos. They are our last remaining connection to sanity in this crazy world.

You have just proven the point about how they are all individuals, just like people. And they are so lovable.

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with kitties.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 10, 2015:

Lizzy, I couldn't vote on your poll because there wasn't a response that related to my experience with cats. I'm a cat lover and know them well, although each has its own personality. I have three indoor cats and two outdoor felines that have deemed my house their own.

I've had cats all of my adult life. What I love about them is they're like women: they're self-sufficient and come for love when they need it. However, when you're sick, depressed, or recovering from surgery, they're right by your side and won't leave. My three take turns taking care of me. Although they can't cook for me or give me my meds, walk me to the bathroom, they're there for the recovery of my soul. They're there to love me and let me know I'm important.

When all is well and good, they try to do no-nos. They're not allowed on eating surfaces, nor do I allow them in my bedroom, which is carpeted. They like to pick the carpet and make it look like crap. Additionally, on the rare occasion I do let one of them come sleep with me, they irritate the hell out of me by making dough on my bedspread or my head. Then, when they want out, they pick the carpet by the door (did I mention this is a no-no?) and wake me up. Funny... when they want to wake me up in the morning for breakfast, they meow at (the outside) of my door. So howcome meowing only works on one side?????

I love my cats. I love their nuances and they accept mine. I've yet to find a human that can do the same.

4. It's OK for Cats to Eat a Little Chocolate

Just like canines, warns Trupanion, you should never give your cat any amount of chocolate. Chocolate contains theobromine, an alkaloid that is toxic to both cats and dogs. Dark chocolate is even more dangerous than the milk variety because it contains higher levels of theobromine—the chemical is also found in cocoa—so don't let you kitty sip your hot chocolate, either. In addition, cats aren't able to digest dairy comfortably, which can lead to bowel issues such as diarrhea . The bottom line is, save the sweet treats for the human family members and keep your kitty healthy.

5 Common Cat-health Myths

Myth #1: Cats don’t need annual exams
Reality: Annual examinations are the best way to detect medical problems early and to ensure your cat is protected against preventable diseases. We take our kids to the pediatrician for wellness visits, so why should our cats be any different? Cats get sick too. They suffer from many of the same illnesses we do like obesity, diabetes, thyroid disease, and kidney disease.

Cats obviously can’t tell us when they’re sick and to make matters worse, they are masters at hiding illness. You may not notice any signs or symptoms until a disease is very advanced. That’s why routine physical examinations are so important. They allow your veterinarian to check your cat over from head to tail for subtle signs of illness. Your veterinarian can also utilize screening tests to detect diseases early and to start treatment promptly. The fact is, bringing your cat to the vet at least once a year for a check-up is the best way to be ensure your cat lives the healthiest, happiest life possible.

Myth #2: Indoor cats don’t need vaccines
Reality: Cats can be exposed to a number of different infectious diseases, even if they live indoors. Upper respiratory infections can be carried on your clothes or shoes or can spread through an open window or screen door. Not to mention that even indoor cats can sneak out.

While strictly indoor cats may require fewer vaccines than outdoor cats, the fact remains that indoor cats may benefit from vaccines that protect against certain upper respiratory viruses: feline rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus, and feline panleukopenia. In addition, some states require cats to be vaccinated against rabies. Speak with your veterinarian to find out what vaccines are appropriate for your particular cat based on his age, lifestyle and risks. You can also get information about vaccines from the AAHA-AVMA Feline Preventive Healthcare Guidelines.

Myth #3 Indoor cats don’t get parasites
Reality: Unfortunately, even indoor cats aren’t immune to parasites. Pesky bugs like fleas can be brought into your home by your dog or by rodents. You can even move into a house with an existing flea problem. (Fleas in the pupa stage can remain dormant for months.) In addition, mosquitoes transmit heartworm disease and we all know how easy it is for them to get inside.

Just because your cat doesn’t go outside don’t assume they are safe from parasites. Be on the lookout for parasites and speak to your veterinarian about parasitic screening tests and preventative medications that might be appropriate for your cat.

Myth #4 Indoor cats do not need microchips
Reality: All pets, even strictly indoor cats, should have microchips and ideally collars and ID tags. What happens when your cat sneaks out an open door or window, or worse yet, gets lost during an earthquake, hurricane or tornado? They become an outdoor cat with no identification! Collars and tags allow a neighbor to return your cat directly to you, but unfortunately, collars can break or fall off. Microchips provide a more reliable means of identification. Of course, for them to work, make sure you register and keep your contact information up-to-date.

The fact is, accidents happen and it is always better to be safe than sorry. Being sure your pet has proper identification (collar, tag and microchips) is the best way to improve the odds that your pet will be returned home if he is ever lost.

Myth #5 Cats don’t need exercise
Reality: The reality is all animals, even cats, benefit from exercise. Exercise is the best way to keep your cat trim and healthy. Like us, cats can suffer from obesity and the problems associated with being overweight, such as, arthritis and diabetes. You can keep your cat active by playing with a laser pointer. Most cats love to chase a laser pointer (and most humans find this entertaining too). [Editor’s Note: Check out the Petcube!] Some cats can also learn to play fetch. The goal is to find the toy or activity that gets your pet moving. Don’t be afraid to ask your veterinarian for ideas and help getting your lazy cat off the couch.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

Myth: Cats Can’t Be Trained

There is a common misconception that cats cannot be trained, or that training them is more difficult than with dogs. Both of those statements are false and can be detrimental when a cat owner believes them. When owners feel that their cats cannot be trained, they also believe that cats' behavioral problems cannot be resolved. This can often result in fatal consequences for cats, including euthanasia and relinquishment.

The truth is that many feline behavior problems can be resolved, and they are easy to train. Cats can be taught foundation behaviors (targeting, attention), positive husbandry behaviors (nail trims, brushing, and handling), and fun tricks (roll over, high five).

When training cats, focus on the good, meaning, focus on the positive behaviors and build upon those instead of telling an animal what not to do. Positive training methods accelerate learning since animals can better understand what we are asking of them instead of repeatedly telling them no. These methods also help to not only keep training fun for both the teacher and the learner but also creates enthusiastic learners and encourages creativity along with strengthening the human animal bond.

Using aversives, meaning something the cat doesn’t like (i.e. spraying with water, shocking, yelling, hitting), to stop the behavior is not recommended. Using aversives does not teach the cat the wanted behavior (the cat learns to wait until you are not around before engaging in the behavior), does not effectively communicate with your cat what you do want, can increase fear and anxiety, and can cause the cat to be fearful of you and damage the human-animal bond.

8 Common Cat Myths—Debunked

Discover why following some widely held beliefs can harm your pet

Discover why following some widely held beliefs can harm your pet

Whether you're a longtime cat lover or a new owner, what you think you know about these fascinating animals may be wrong. "You're bringing the wild inside with cats. That's why there's so much we haven't yet figured out," says Marty Becker, DVM, author of Your Cat: the Owner's Manual and veterinarian for Here are eight of the most common misconceptions about cats and the truths behind them

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Whether you're a longtime cat lover or a new owner, what you think you know about these fascinating animals may be wrong. "You're bringing the wild inside with cats. That's why there's so much we haven't yet figured out," says Marty Becker, DVM, author of Your Cat: the Owner's Manual and veterinarian for Here are eight of the most common misconceptions about cats and the truths behind them

While you may think your cat would love to get back to its hunter roots, it's risky to let your cat outside alone. Indoor cats live three-and-a-half times longer than outdoor cats, says Becker. "Outdoor cats are subject to infections, parasites and injuries from dogs, coyotes, large birds of prey, cars and other cats," says Roy Smith, DVM, a vet at Central Texas Cat Hospital in Round Rock, TX, and president-elect of the American Association of Feline Practitioners. "It's simply not safe for them to roam alone."

What you can do: Take your cat outside on a leash and harness—they can walk on a leash if you're patient and consistent. Or set up an outdoor screened enclosure or run, a safe space for pouncing on bugs and feeling grass on their toes.

Not exactly, though there is a phenomenon called "high-rise syndrome," which refers to cats that plummet from many stories up and survive. "During a fall, cats rotate their head to face the ground and spiral the rest of the body," says Dr. Becker. "They spread out like a flying squirrel and relax their muscles before landing so they distribute the impact over four points." But that may not occur if a cat doesn't have enough distance to right itself. The most dangerous falls are those from two to six stories in height. Tumbles from short distances, such as off a dresser, can also injure pets.

What you can do: Keep windows without screens closed. Test window screens to make sure your cat can't push through them, and forbid balcony access. Block spots in your home that aren't safe for your cat to climb on, such as a wobbly or narrow shelf. Also, use a breakaway collar, which pulls apart or slips off instead of staying intact and choking your pet if the collar catches on something during a fall.

Your cat may lap it up eagerly, but milk isn't a good idea for the majority of cats. "Most cats are lactose-intolerant," says Ilona Rodan, DVM, owner and medical director of the Cat Care Clinic in Madison, WI. "They get diarrhea from milk, and they can also develop bladder stones if they get too much calcium."

What you can do: There's absolutely no nutritional reason to give cats cow's milk. And kittens in the wild don't drink milk after they're weaned (in fact, most cats become lactose-intolerant around 12 weeks of age). If you absolutely can't resist giving your cat a special treat, ask your vet if cat drinks such as CatSip or Whiskas Catmilk are OK for your pet.

While cats do purr when they're content, they also purr when they're nervous, injured, giving birth, nursing or trying to communicate. "It's a way of creating and conveying comfort for themselves and others," says Dr. Becker. We can't tell the difference between a happy purr and a stressed purr unless we know a situation is inherently nerve-racking, such as a vet visit.

What to do: Pick up your purring pets: They're comforting to touch and hold. If you suspect your cat purrs because he's anxious, ask your vet about Feliway, a synthetic version of the pheromones cats use to mark safe territory (that's why they rub against your legs!). Spritz it on yourself, in the car or in your cat's carrier.

You can still cuddle Fluffy if you're expecting or trying to conceive. But you may need to change your cat-care routine. Here's why: Toxoplasmosis, an illness cats get from eating infected rodents, birds or other animals, can harm a developing baby. Since sick, though symptomless, cats pass the parasite on in their feces, "there's a slight risk of contracting toxoplasmosis from cleaning the litter box," says Dr. Smith. Luckily, it's easy to minimize the threat.

What to do: Keep your cat indoors so he can't eat infected animals. If you're pregnant, put someone else on litter-box duty, or wear disposable gloves and wash your hands if you keep cleaning it. Most importantly, change the litter daily. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the parasite doesn't become infectious until 24 hours after it's shed in waste.

"In the last decade, we've learned about the best living environment for cats," says Dr. Rodan. "They need daily enrichment from mental and physical activity to stay healthy and happy."

What to do: Challenge your cat's mind by placing bird feeders outside of windows so he can watch unpredictable scenes unfold. Provide cat towers, perches or steady shelves for climbing. Set out scratching posts and different kinds of toys, and play with your cat every day. If you're able, consider getting two cats (preferably siblings, which increases their chances of bonding) so they'll have companionship. Another idea: Instead of setting out a food bowl, put out puzzle feeders, such as an empty paper-towel roll, so cats have to "hunt" for food like they would in the wild. You could also measure out and toss kibbles while you're at the computer or watching TV, or hide small stashes throughout the house.

Cats seem to know instinctively how to use the litter box. But that's not as far as cat training can go. "Cats are intelligent. People just go about teaching them the wrong way," says Dr. Rodan. "They don't respond to physical punishment or yelling. You have to reward the positive."

What to do: If your cat starts scratching the furniture, for example, redirect his attention to the cat post. Try putting some catnip on the post (though not all cats respond an affinity for catnip is inherited), and then give a favorite treat. Or teach basic commands such as "sit" with clicker training: Use a device that makes clicking noises in time with your commands, and then reward with a much-loved treat after your cat does what you want. The clicker helps cats learn to associate something they like (a treat) with what you're asking them to do (sit). Keep training sessions to five minutes or less, and don't give up.

Unfortunately, cats visit the vet less frequently than dogs, which means many suffer from preventable conditions such as dental disease and parasites. Some vets suspect that lots of sick cats go untreated because their owners don't realize they're ailing. "Cats disguise illness and injury because they can't show they're vulnerable in nature or they become prey," says Dr. Becker. And some deadly illnesses, such as heart or kidney disease, have no visible symptoms. Those routine vet visits can save your cat's life.

What to do: Take young, healthy cats to the vet once a year cats eight years old and up or those with chronic health issues need to go at least twice a year. All cats, even those who never leave the house, need parasite protection, since fleas, ticks and mosquitoes that transmit heartworm, which can be fatal, can get indoors and infect your pet.

Watch the video: 8 Animal Misconceptions Rundown

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