Thinking of getting a cat? Or do you already have them, and ever heard the following statements about cats and wondered if they are true?  Hopefully, this will touch upon most of the common ones, and put the myths to rest!

Cats have nine lives… do they REALLY need regular check-ups?

Of course, cats have only one life.  So it’s important to schedule regular veterinary visits to ensure your cat has a long, healthy and happy one. Going to the veterinarian shouldn’t only be for when your cat is sick.  And if you cat really, really hates going, look into home visit vets.  They are a growing segment of the practicing veterinary population.  I know our practice makes house calls.  Check if your’s does too.

Table scraps are OK for my cat

Did you know that a piece of cheese for a 10lb cat is like eating almost three full chocolate bars?  Table scraps are usually empty calories for cats.  They need precisely balanced nutrition for their specific lifestage and special needs to remain healthy.




My cat flicks her tail, I think she must be happy

Maybe… you never really know with cats.  Typically, cats will wag or flick their tail when they are upset or thinking.  They communicate via complex body language and vocal expressions like humans.  Look and listen to your cat to help decipher what he or she means.  And, I will point out that MANY of my patients wag their tails during an exam, and MOST of them are not happy about being there.





I don’t need to exercise my cat

You can and should exercise your cat.  They need mental stimulation as well as physical activity.  Indoor cats may be protected from outdoor lifestyle risks, but that makes them more vulnerable to inactivity and risk of obesity. Get involved – there are plenty of games and toys to keep them active and at a healthy weight.


Should pregnant women avoid cats due to possible disease infection (toxoplasmosis)?

Expectant mothers can interact with cats; it’s the litter box that’s a no-no.  Toxoplasmosis is spread through feces and litter.  As long as pregnant women avoid contact with the litter box and have someone else clean the box area, there should be no problems.  And the reality is that, if a cat is a carrier, they may or may not shed the organism.  But, since you have no way of knowing if or when they might be shedding, why risk it?  So avoid the litter box, but feel free to continue mothering your cat while you’re waiting for your baby.


Without whiskers, does a cat lose all sense of balance?

It’s hard to imagine how an idea like this got started.  And yet, I hear it often enough to address it.  Cats  use their whiskers as “feelers”, but not to maintain balance.  how a cat ositions its whiskers can also be an indication of mood.  Whatever you do, don’t cut a cat’s whiskers or pull on them.  They are rooted deep in the skin where nerve endings are abundant.  Ouch!


Got milk? Got cats? Can your cats have milk?

A cute cat quietly lapping at a saucer of milk.  What could be more natural? The truth is, milk packs a lot of punch for such a small animal.  Many cats get diarrhea from milk and too much milk can quickly add up to an obesity problem.  Your best bet is sticking with well-balanced nutrition formulated specifically for cats.  Save the milk for your cereal.



Brushing a cat’s teeth is silly. images-9

Well actually, your cat would greatly benefit from having his/her teeth brushed.  Routine brushing not only freshens breath, it also limits the risk of oral disease and gives you a chance to notice anything else happening to teeth and gums.  It has been shown that good dental health, and inroads in veterinary dental treatment have led to longer cat lives.



When cats eat grass, does that mean they’re sick?

While several theories about animal grass consumption exist, veterinarians have no proven answers.  However, research indicates an amazing possibility:  animals may just like to eat grass.  So don’t panic if your cat nibbles at the lawn from time to time.  If the nibbling turns into a daily feast, talk to your veterinarian.


If you put garlic on your cat’s food, will it help get rid of worms?

No. And, it may cause anemia in cats, and should thus be avoided.

Dr. Dawn

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