Cypress veterinarian debunks 6 myths about cats

It’s time to say goodbye to misconceptions and appreciate their ‘quirks’

CYPRESS, Texas – If you are planning to adopt a new pet but you haven't considered a cat because of common misconceptions, you might be missing out.

But Dr. Jennifer Hennessey, with Animal ER of Northwest Houston, shares her knowledge and debunks 6 feline myths to help us understand these fantastic and lovable creatures.

Hennessey believes these negative views about cats come mostly from non-cat owners.

“You really have to live with a cat to understand cats. They’re very much like people. I think the biggest myth of all is that they’re small dogs, which is the complete opposite,” said Hennessey, who addressed other common misconceptions about these beautiful animals.

Dr. Jennifer Hennessey kisses her cat
Dr. Jennifer Hennessey kisses her cat (Dr. Jennifer Hennessey)

Myth 1: Cats are unsocial or snobby

Cats definitely have their personal space, but they also enjoy daily cuddles, hugs and attention.

“They definitely have their personal space. I always say they have a bubble and they’ll choose when you come to be in and out of that; very much like people. They have times where they really want that attention, they want to be social and be known that they’re around, and they have times they want to deal with things on their own. Just like you and I,” said Hennessey.

Myth 2: Cats cannot be trained

You can teach cats all sorts of things. Many of them are food-motivated and enjoy the rewards of a positive interaction. Although not every one of them will be eager to perform on cue.

“They can be trained. It’s all about tapping into their source of motivation. They primarily need to be enticed, most of them are more food-motivated than we give them a chance to respond to. So, treats are really my key,” said Hennessey.

Grey cat on a kitchen countertop
Grey cat on a kitchen countertop (Dr. Jennifer Hennessey)

Myth 3: Indoor cats are safe from illness

Cats are safe indoors from being hit by a car but not from infections and other age-related medical issues, which means regular check-ups are essential. And remember, cats do not have nine lives. They only have one.

“They still need veterinary visits, they need an annual exam. And I think the misconceptions is the majority of time they’re inside. But they can suffer the same things as everybody else. Age-related things, such as heart disease, dental disease, arthritis. But also, infections. Heartworm disease here in Houston is huge. They need to be in preventatives. Have their vaccines, it’s not just the dogs,” said Hennessey.

Myth 4: Cats are mean and do not want to be petted

Cats love to be petted, but they have specific areas of preference, such as their chin. Cats also are mouthy and game time for them often includes teeth which can many times be misinterpreted by a human as aggression.

“I think a lot of the misconception and maybe where the relationship goes awry is just not greeting them in the right area. They don’t like their bellies rub. With cats is more allowing them to offer their face. Start with their chin and go from there. But let them pick and choose where your hand goes, and you’ll be safer and will get along much better,” said Hennessey.

Myth 5: You can give milk to cats

Avoid milk because cats are lactose-intolerant. They can develop stomach illness such as diarrhea when fed milk. Tuna juice may be a more suitable substitute for these furry friends.

“Even though they love milk, just like a human might love milk, but still have lactose issues that wreaks havoc on their tummies,” said Hennessey.

Myth 6: Cats always land on their feet

Cats are talented about landing many times, but not always. Landing on their feet can still lead to head and dental trauma

“If they do land on their feet, the biggest thing we see, we called it 'high rise syndrome’ in veterinary medicine. But they actually land with their face and their chin. They collide to the floor. We might have dental issues, facial fractures. So, even if they did land on their feet, they’re not free of injury,” said Hennessey.

To see Hennessey’s complete interview, watch the video above.

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