Myths and Facts about Cats

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Myths and Facts about Cats

These are common misunderstandings that veterinarians frequently hear from pet owners, according to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). Following is a list of popular myths that AAHA veterinarians and The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) would like to dispel.

Myth: Cats always land on their feet.

Fact: While cats instinctively fall feet first and may survive falls from high places, they also may receive broken bones in the process. Some kind of screening on balconies and windows can help protect pets from disastrous falls.

Myth: Cats should drink milk everyday.

Fact: Most cats like milk, but do not need it if properly nourished. Also, many will get diarrhea if they drink too much milk. If it is given at all, the amount should be small and infrequent.

Myth: Cats that are spayed or neutered automatically gain weight.

Fact: Like people, cats gain weight from eating too much, not exercising enough or both. In many cases, spaying or neutering is done at an age when the animal's metabolism already has slowed, and its need for food has decreased. If the cat continues to eat the same amount, it may gain weight. Cat owners can help their cats stay fit by providing exercise and not over-feeding.

Myth: Cats cannot get rabies.

Fact: Actually, most warm-blooded mammals, including cats, bats, skunks and ferrets, can carry rabies. Like dogs, cats should be vaccinated regularly according to local laws.

Myth: Indoor cats cannot get diseases.

Fact: Cats still are exposed to organisms that are carried through the air or brought in on a cat owner's shoes or clothing. Even the most housebound cat ventures outdoors at some time and can be exposed to diseases and worms through contact with other animals feces.

Myth: Tapeworms come from bad food.

Fact: Pets become infected with tape worms from swallowing fleas, which carry the parasite. Also, cats can get tapeworms from eating infected mice or other exposed animals.

Myth: Putting garlic on a pet's food will get rid of worms.

Fact: Garlic may make the animal's food taste better but has no effect on worms. The most effective way to treat worms is by medication prescribed by a veterinarian.

Myth: Pregnant women should not own cats.

Fact: Some cats can be infected with a disease called toxoplasmosis, which occasionally can be spread to humans through cat litter boxes and cause serious problems in unborn babies. However, these problems can be controlled, if the expectant mother avoids contact with the litter box and assigns daily cleaning to a friend or other family member.

Myth: A cat's sense of balance is in its whiskers.

Fact: Cats use their whiskers as "feelers" but not to maintain their balance.

Myth: Animals heal themselves by licking their wounds.

Fact: Such licking actually can slow the healing process and further damage the wound.

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Live and let live! Stop animal cruelty!

Animal cruelty generally falls into two categories: neglect, or intentional cruelty. Neglect is the failure to provide adequate water, food, shelter, or necessary care. Examples of neglect include: starvation; dehydration; inadequate shelter; parasite infestations; failure to seek veterinary care when an animal is in need of medical attention; allowing a collar to grow into an animal's skin; confinement without adequate light, ventilation, space or in unsanitary conditions; and failure to trim hoofs or nails resulting in excessive growth (e.g. hoofs curling upwards). In some cases neglect is a result of the owner's ignorance, and can be rectified by educating the owner.

Equally disturbing as neglect is the brutality of intentional cruelty, involving deliberate physical harm or injury inflicted on an animal. Regretfully, cases of animals being beaten, burned, poisoned or stabbed to death are not uncommon.

In some cases neglect or cruelty is the result of people using animals as tools for commercial profit, such as in the cases of excessive puppy breeding, use of animals in entertainment, animal testing and illegal slaughtering.
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