Kitty Myths and Truths

The Biggest Cat Myth of All Time

Recently a friend of mine I've known for over 50 years paid me a visit and caught me up on news of his family. He made mention of a relative who had a cat that was, in his words, "very un-catlike." I was intrigued: What is "un-catlike?" He described the cat as very engaging, following its owners around, playing, and behaving rather like a dog. I could not resist, so I asked, "Then, what is catlike?" He replied, "You know, quiet, aloof, disinterested..."

I immediately felt an overwhelming urge to correct this PhD's assumptions, and began a brief lecture...

Cats behave the way they are treated by their owners. If one assumes all cats are aloof and unengaging, and treat them that way, then that's exactly how they will behave. If, however, you show your cat affection, attention, play with it, and engage with it on a regular basis, you will find they remain affectionate, attentive, playful and even "dog-like" for its entire life.

I was met with my friend's classic look of skepticism. I'm younger than him by a decade or so, and consequently I "don't know what I'm talking about," even as my two cats were nudging me and cuddling with me and otherwise seeking my attention, right in front of him. I should have known I could not hope to change his attitude, even if I presented a raft of scientific research papers backing my position. And such is why the myth persists.

Stupid Science Studies

And speaking of scientific research papers, every couple of months or so there's some "revelation" about cats emerging from the science community. Please, please, please, may I have the money wasted on these studies? The funding for just one unnecessary study would likely feed my cats for the rest of their lives. Clearly there's a severe shortage of "cat-aware" scientists, because all they do is publish papers on stuff that cat lovers have known for generations. A few examples from recent memory:

"Cats respond more strongly to baby-talk than normal speech." Well, duh, why do you think the vast majority of cat fanciers talk like total idiots to their pets?

"Scientists determine how cats communicate: through scent." OMG, what rock have these people been under? Have they never observed cats sniffing one another's butts? I can hear the unenlightened scientist wondering, "Why do they do that?"

"Scientists still don't know how cats purr." I remain awestruck that there are still reports suggesting it has something to do with blood flow or some other total nonsense. Place your finger very gently on the throat of a purring cat, and you will feel their larynx vibrating. In human terms, purring is the equivalent of humming in a very low register. I've known this since I was a kid, and scientists are still debating this "mystery?" I'm sorry, but there is no hope for humanity.

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