Cats are often considered aloof, untrainable and anti-social. All of those characterizations come from misreading cat behaviors and are all false. Let’s take a look at some common cat behavior myths and debunk them.
Myth: Cats can’t be trained.
Fact: Cats can be trained just as easily as dogs when you use the right methods. Cats respond best to positive reinforcement training methods. Aversion methods, such as squirting them with water, should be avoided as they create fear and anxiety for the cat. What’s more, aversion training methods usually just teach the cat not to do the behavior when you are around and just wait until you aren’t watching.
Myth: Cats are spiteful.
Fact: Most undesirable cat behavior is a result of stress, fear, anxiety or medical issues. For example, if your cat goes potty outside of his litterbox, it could be due to a medical issue such as a urinary tract infection (common in cats) and not because they’re mad at you for being gone all day at work. Be careful not to attribute human motivations to your cat. Cats don’t think like humans do.
Myth: Kittens don’t require socialization.
Fact: Socialization is just as important for kittens as it is for puppies. Particularly between 2-7 weeks of age, cats learn social cues from other cats and start understanding human body language. They also learn what is safe and unsafe in the world around them. Poorly socialized kittens could end up being “aloof” cats that hide from visitors, become stressed by other animals and get fearful or aggressive at vet visits. Well-socialized kittens are more likely to have better coping skills, be friendlier and more outgoing.
Myth: Cats show their belly for belly rubs.
Fact: Cats show their belly for a variety of reasons and most are not an invitation for belly rubs. One reason cats might show their belly is to prepare for defensive action, as their vital organs are in their belly region. By tricking another animal (or human) into going for that belly zone, they can clamp down with teeth and claws as soon as you get close. Another reason cats expose their belly is to show they feel safe and they trust you. A final reason cats show their bellies is an invitation to play. If your cat is feeling playful, break out the wand toy and use toys for playtime. Never use your hands or feet or you risk your cat identifying hands and feet as toys to attack.
Myth: Cats show their butts as an insult.
Fact: Just the opposite is true! Like dogs, cats can get a ton of information about another animal through a butt sniff. By presenting their butt, your cat is giving you a signal of friendship and trust.
Which myths did you believe before reading this post? Cats are just as flexible and trainable and can be just as social as dogs. Many myths about cats come from simply not understanding the motivation for their behaviors or what their behaviors really mean. We hope we have debunked some cat behavior myths for you that will help you see these wonderful pets in a new light.