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10 Common Cat Behavior Myths Decoded

- Provided by VetStreet.com
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Cats are the most popular pet in the United States; they are intelligent, affectionate and mysterious creatures. Despite this popularity — and perhaps because of their air of mystery — there are many misconceptions about cats that cause both social and physical problems for these animals. 

Here are 10 common-but-false assumptions about felines — and the truth behind them.

1. Cats are solitary animals and like to be home alone. 

False. Separation can be stressful for cats. Specifically, separation anxiety may manifest in behaviors such as urination and defecation outside of the litterbox, vocalization, vomiting, excessive grooming, lack of appetite, anxiety at departure or an exuberant greeting when you return. To keep your cat happy, it essential to limit their time alone and provide them with stimulation and interaction in the form of play, petting, food toys and perches. If you have an extremely stressed cat, it’s essential to make an appointment with your veterinarian to further address the problem. 

2. Cat litterbox issues are always a behavior problem and can't be fixed.

False. Failing to use the litterbox may be linked to a medical issue or may be caused by stress or anxiety, so start with a visit to your veterinarian. Once you identify the cause, there are various methods for retraining your cat to go inside the box, including the use of feline pheromones, changing the type of litter and box used, increasing the number of litterboxes and strategizing the placement of boxes around your home. 

3. Cats scratch because they are mean.

False. Cats may claw human skin for various reasons. Sometimes cats claw to express irritation — for example, if they are not being held or petted in the proper way. Some cats scratch in play; if this happens, freeze in place and redirect your cat to a toy. An underlying medical issue, such as arthritis, may also be the culprit, causing your cat to feel uncomfortable and making him more likely to lash out.  If this is a recurring issue, a visit to your veterinarian is a must.

4. Cats will suck the life out of a newborn baby.

False. The belief that a cat will suck the air out of a baby's lungs is an urban legend; there has never been one medically proven incident of this happening. In truth, cats and babies can grow deep bonds and get along well if their interactions are always supervised by adults and behavior concerns are addressed early on.

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