• Three uncommon myths about cats
6 min.

Three uncommon myths about cats

As a cat lover, you probably know that the myth about cats being scared of the water isn’t true. In fact, a lot of cats actually enjoy taking a bath. You’re probably also aware that cats don’t always land on their feet. But do you know everything there is to know about cats? We thought we’d demystify a few of the less common myths about our feline friends.

1. Cats prefer women: TRUE

Sorry guys, but this one hits the mark. Cats do prefer the company of women. The first thing to understand is that cats will always behave in ways that will benefit them. That is their modus operandi. And in a domestic environment, which of the two does it pay off to love more: A man or a woman? If the cat is curled up in the best seat of the house, who will opt to sit somewhere else rather than make the cat move? The ladies. Who generally feeds the cat? The ladies. And who tends to pet cats more? Take a guess!

Men often have the task of emptying the litter (which doesn’t really “give” cats anything) or of being the disciplinarian. So it’s easy to understand why most cats will go to the mistress of the house when they want something.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. A case in point: You pet and feed your cat, but when your boyfriend stretches out on the sofa to watch hockey, he’s the one that the cat curls up with instead of you. Why? Because all cats are different. If your cat doesn’t care that much about affection, and if the food is always there no matter who happens to be in the house, but your cat loves the heat of your boyfriend’s body, well, there’s your answer. In short, cats will gravitate to the one who gives them the greatest personal gain. If that’s the case, take note of what your boyfriend is doing that your cat seems so drawn to and try to follow suit.

2. Cats are domineering, jealous and resentful: FALSE

Contrary to what we often hear, it would be wrong to stereotype cats as domineering or jealous. Many behaviourists now avoid using these terms for various reasons. They would rather talk about motivation towards certain resources. A cat could be very motivated by food, with the shelf near the window giving a breathtaking view of the birds in the tree or the legs of the lady reading in the chair, perhaps only at a certain time of the day. He could therefore be more insistent about accessing these resources. A domineering cat would act that way all the time, towards all resources, which is rarely the case. Moreover, domination could only be achieved towards individuals of the same species. Knowing that in nature cats live mainly alone, the idea of a hierarchy loses its meaning. Similarly, cats do not live together in nature and there is no competition for reproduction since multiple cats can be breeders within the same litter. If jealousy does not exist in wild cats, the chances of it developing this feeling when living with us are unlikely. Hence the nuance of access to resources.

This concept can help you better understand your cats and their relationships with you and their fellow cats. So, if tensions arise around certain resources, think about adding more of them in order to give your cats other options and thus reduce the likelihood of conflict.

Finally, if cats were resentful, the veterinary profession would be particularly dangerous! If your cat seems to be sulking at you when you come back from vacation, it's probably because he had to adjust to a new routine while you were away. Your return means changing his routine again. So give him some time, play with him and offer him treats. If his behaviour is still different after a few days or if he is particularly sluggish, or does not eat or drink, consult your veterinarian right away to make sure he is in good health.

3. Cats get stuck in trees: TRUE... and FALSE

Have you ever noticed that your cat’s claws are shaped like climbing hooks? Take a look, and you’ll understand why it’s so easy for a cat to climb a tree, and so hard for it to come back down.

That’s why a lot of highly intelligent cats have developed a faster and more effective technique for getting down from places without tiring themselves out. By lowering their ears, adopting a pleading look and meowing plaintively, these little geniuses often succeed in manipulating well-intentioned people to help them down without having to lift so much as a paw.

But beware: by adopting this behaviour, you’re teaching your cat that if it waits long enough, it will never have to put effort into coming down on his own, which could lead to it stubbornly waiting up in its perch until help arrives. In the process, it could become dehydrated and not have the strength to make its way back down on its own.

The key is not to try to save a cat stuck in a tree on your own. It could end up climbing higher up the tree or, conversely, attempting a dangerous leap down to the ground. The trick: motivate the cat to come down by putting a can of tuna or cat food at the base of the tree. Then give it some room (it may be afraid of you.) Ideally, the food will lure the cat down when it gets hungry enough. If not, the neighbourhood cats will appreciate the unexpected treat.

However, if a cat is stuck in a tree for more than 24 hours, it’s time to call in some reinforcements. Contact an animal emergency service and they’ll be sure to provide the appropriate assistance.