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  • Carly Fox: "Pregnant women can't live with cats."

  • This is a huge myth.

  • Please don't get rid of your cat if you are pregnant.

  • "When cats purr, it means they're happy."

  • This is definitely a myth.

  • Ann Hohenhaus: "Cats think their owner is their mother."

  • Fox: Obviously your cat doesn't

  • think that you're its mother.

  • I'm Dr. Carly Fox.

  • I'm an emergency and critical-care veterinarian

  • at the Animal Medical Center in New York City.

  • Hohenhaus: And I'm Dr. Ann Hohenhaus,

  • also at the Animal Medical Center,

  • but I'm an internal medicine and oncology specialist.

  • Fox: Today we're going to debunk some cat myths.

  • [meow]

  • "Cats love milk."

  • I mean, I think this is sort of an image

  • that has been put forth throughout our childhood,

  • like, in storybooks and in movies and on TV,

  • but unfortunately, cats, as they get older,

  • actually are lactose intolerant.

  • So their bodies actually can't even digest milk.

  • As kittens, they have an enzyme called lactase,

  • which helps them break down milk,

  • because they are supposed to be drinking

  • their mother's milk.

  • But as they get older, that enzyme,

  • which is usually very present, goes away.

  • And then they're unable to digest milk.

  • So if you feed milk to an older cat,

  • or really any cat after they've

  • been weaned from their mother,

  • they really can't digest it.

  • Even though they seem like

  • they're really enjoying themselves,

  • it actually can cause gastrointestinal upset.

  • Hohenhaus: You can go to the pet store, though,

  • and buy cat milk.

  • [laughs]

  • And the cat milk has two things

  • that make it special for cats.

  • One is it's lactose-free,

  • just like the lactose-free milk

  • you can buy in the grocery store.

  • But it also has extra taurine added to it.

  • And cats require taurine in their diet.

  • So it's just an extra source

  • of that amino acid special for cats.

  • Fox: I mean, who knew?

  • Hohenhaus: "Cats are nocturnal."

  • How can you be nocturnal when you

  • sleep 23 hours a day?

  • [laughs]

  • The typical cat sleeps 23 hours a day.

  • They wake up long enough to kill some prey,

  • eat that prey, and then go back to sleep

  • until the next time they're hungry.

  • Fox: They're actually crepuscular animals.

  • Hohenhaus: They're what? Fox: Crepuscular.

  • That means that they're active

  • during dusk and dawn,

  • which goes back to what you just said

  • about them hunting. So, that's how lions hunt.

  • They hunt in the dusk or the dawn,

  • where they can, you know,

  • see prey better, hunt, and kill,

  • and our domestic cats actually evolved from that.

  • So they're actually supposed to be

  • most active in the morning and in the evening,

  • but not necessarily in the middle of the night.

  • Though some cats obviously are.

  • Hohenhaus: Well, and they are most active in the morning.

  • Ask any cat owner. At 4 o'clock in the morning,

  • that cat's walking on your head

  • and running over the bed, trying to get you up,

  • because they don't have to hunt for breakfast.

  • They just have to get you up.

  • Fox: "Cats hate water."

  • Can't say that every cat hates water,

  • but, I mean, in my experience,

  • most cats definitely dislike water,

  • as in they don't like being bathed in water.

  • You're definitely not gonna see most cats

  • go for a swim.

  • I'd say most cats don't love water,

  • but when cats are feeling unkempt,

  • perhaps they do like water.

  • Hohenhaus: "Cats think their owner is their mother."

  • [laughs]

  • I think that they just see you

  • as a source of food and comfort

  • and cleanliness and a safe place to live.

  • Fox: Yeah, obviously your cat doesn't

  • think that you're its mother,

  • but they definitely think that you're

  • its caretaker and they need you,

  • but, you know,

  • another person could probably fill in that job

  • just as easily for your cat, honestly,

  • so I don't think that cats

  • think that you're their mother.

  • But some people definitely think that.

  • "Pregnant women can't live with cats."

  • This is a huge myth.

  • Please don't get rid of your cat if you are pregnant.

  • Cats can sometimes be infected with a parasite

  • called toxoplasmosis,

  • which can be shed in your cat's feces.

  • If picked up by a pregnant woman,

  • this parasite can sometimes

  • cause birth defects or miscarriage,

  • and that's obviously something we would want to avoid.

  • Cleaning the litter box daily will help with this.

  • You definitely don't want to

  • leave the litter box to go for more than one day

  • because that can increase infection.

  • If you do need to clean the litter box,

  • you should just wear gloves.

  • So the best thing that you can do

  • is have someone clean the litter box for you,

  • which is also just great.

  • Who wants to clean their litter box?

  • It's a break for nine months.

  • Hohenhaus: So, if you're concerned about your health

  • or your cat's health during your pregnancy,

  • be sure to bring up the topic with both

  • your veterinarian and your obstetrician.

  • "Cats can see in complete darkness."

  • Cats have great night vision.

  • They have, like, a mirror in the back of their eye.

  • And you know that from taking photos of your cat

  • because you see that yellow-green

  • reflection in the camera,

  • and that's this mirror

  • that's in the back of the cat's eye

  • that helps to reflect light around

  • to improve their night vision.

  • And that reflector area is called the tapetum.

  • Fox: Cats really can't see in complete darkness.

  • They still need a little bit of light in their eye

  • for it to bounce back and forth within the eye

  • off the tapetum, so complete darkness

  • they cannot see in, but a lot of darkness

  • with a little bit of light,

  • they actually can see.

  • Hohenhaus: "Human food is bad for cats."

  • We don't recommend feeding a human diet to cats,

  • because it doesn't meet their nutritional needs.

  • Cats are obligate carnivores,

  • and it means they need to eat meat.

  • So your diet is not appropriate for cats.

  • Fox: "Black cats are bad luck."

  • I mean, this is obviously a huge myth.

  • Hohenhaus: I think that black cats

  • are bad luck for themselves,

  • because they don't get adopted from a shelter

  • as readily as a pretty gray cat

  • or a flashy tricolor cat.

  • So the bad luck is actually for the cat,

  • not for you.

  • "Cats don't love people or babies."

  • My mother was so worried about this

  • when I was having a baby, because I had these cats.

  • And she said, "Those cats are gonna climb in the crib

  • and suffocate my grandson."

  • Nothing like that happened.

  • Babies are unpredictable,

  • and they smell different than people,

  • and they make different movements than people,

  • and they have stinky diapers.

  • So I think this actually might partly be true.

  • It's not that they don't like babies.

  • It's that they're different than

  • the people they're used to.

  • Fox: "Cats always land on their feet."

  • Well, cats do have an excellent righting reflex,

  • meaning that a lot of the times

  • they actually do land on their feet,

  • and that has to do with their anatomy

  • and their vestibular system.

  • However, unfortunately, I'm an emergency doctor,

  • I live in New York City. I see many, many,

  • many cats not land on their feet.

  • Definitely don't think that your cat

  • will just be fine if it unfortunately

  • falls out of your third-story window

  • or even from your top of your refrigerator.

  • Hohenhaus: And when they fall,

  • they'll land on their chin,

  • and they often fracture their wrists,

  • and then if they belly flop,

  • as opposed to land on their feet,

  • they'll also get air in their lungs

  • or around their lungs

  • because their lungs get a little

  • tear in it and start leaking.

  • So these injuries are severe

  • and life-threatening for cats.

  • So the answer is get screens

  • or don't open your windows.

  • "Cats and dogs don't get along."

  • I don't have any idea where this would have come from.

  • There are plenty of houses and households

  • in the United States where there are both dogs and cats

  • and they're perfectly fine.

  • Just like some people don't get along,

  • sometimes a dog and cat don't get along,

  • but sometimes you have two dogs and they don't get along

  • or two cats and they don't get along.

  • So I think this is more about the personality

  • of your dog and your cat

  • than it is that they can't get along.

  • They're not gonna be the next YouTube sensation,

  • but I guess they

  • maintain a working relationship.

  • Hohenhaus: Yeah, yeah, that's good.

  • A working relationship.

  • We have to work together to be good pets.

  • Fox: Yeah. Let's do that.

  • "When cats purr, it means they're happy."

  • This is definitely a myth,

  • and I can tell you I've been scratched

  • by many a purring cat.

  • You know, I think purring is oftentimes

  • associated with pleasure in cats;

  • however, sometimes cats can purr for other reasons,

  • like they're very nervous,

  • or it's a warning actually,

  • or they're hungry,

  • not necessarily that they're happy.

  • "One human year equals seven cat years."

  • This is definitely, definitely a myth.

  • I think this is something we more associate with dogs,

  • but if you apply it to cats,

  • I think it's even more of a myth.

  • Hohenhaus: Well, and if you look at it on the

  • reverse end of the lifespan,

  • a cat can have kittens when it's 6 months old.

  • 6-month-old cat would be 3.5 years in human age,

  • and clearly no 3.5-year-old children are

  • having babies of their own. Fox: I hope not.

  • Hohenhaus: So, it doesn't work in cats, no.

  • Fox: Today we debunked some cat myths.

  • There is a little bit of truth

  • to some of these myths that we talked about today,

  • and I think that's very fitting,

  • since cats are these very

  • particular, special animals

  • that are a bit of, like, a mixed bag,

  • just like these myths.

  • Hohenhaus: My son's first words were "meow."

  • [laughing]