It’s time to give your feline friends an extra cuddle — today is International Cat Day!
Our cat companions are there for us through hard times, fun times, and the plain, average days when, like them, you want nothing more than to nap in the sun or curl up under a fuzzy blanket. We’re taking today to appreciate them and the love and affection they show us every day.
Time for a quick Muggle history lesson.
As noted by the “brightest witch of her age,” Miss Hermione Granger, the Ancient Egyptians worshipped cats. During this time, cats made the world safer. In a practical sense, they stopped other animals, such as rats and snakes, from spoiling grain stocks or sneaking about inside clay vases.
In a spiritual sense, cats in Egypt were thought to be able to spot someone treacherous. Primarily they were known for their association with the protection goddess Bast, who was famous for her powerful ability to vanquish evil spirits.
Modern cats don’t differ all that much from the intelligent felines found on ancient streets. Take Crookshanks, for example! Like his friend and human guardian Hermione, he was intelligent beyond his years, with an uncanny ability to recognise untrustworthy people (we’re looking at you, Peter Pettigrew!).
Aside from their supernaturally-sharp instincts when it comes to detecting suspicious individuals, companion cats are fantastic for our mental health. Studies have shown that having a cat at home may improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and loneliness.
But what about the many cat myths still circulating in the Muggle world?
Black cats were said to be “bad luck” and associated with witchcraft, poverty, and misfortune. In some cases these old beliefs are still held onto.
In reality, black cats aren’t unlucky, possessed, or capable of anything dangerous. In fact, in some countries, like Japan and Australia, if a black cat appears on your doorstep, it’s said to be good luck!
Black cats still have some of the lowest adoption rates of all cat colors and are often dumped at shelters or simply abandoned. Keep that in mind the next time you visit your local shelter.
Other myths surrounding cats claim that because of their independent nature, they are “unloving” and “cold.”
The reality is that cats are largely social animals — feral cats are especially well known for living in colonies with as few as four other cats to two dozen or more. (That’s why so many cat rescues and cat welfare groups are so keen on trapping these feral and stray cats to vaccinate, spay, and neuter them before releasing them back to their environment.)
Now for some urban legends and stereotypes.
“Cats have nine lives” and “cats always land on their feet” are two of the most famous urban legends. These types of beliefs can cause some humans to leave high windows open around cats without a second thought. Though cats do generally land on their feet, it’s not a guarantee. If the height is great enough, cats can seriously injure themselves when jumping or falling. These cats often end up at animal hospitals with broken legs and other grave injuries from such accidents.
Mindfulness is key. Close those windows when your cat friends are slinking around! They only have one life, and falling out of a window may just steal it away from them.
Lastly, many people still believe that cats enjoy drinking cow’s milk. However, just like other mammalian species, cats drink their mother’s milk and then grow into adult felines who no longer need it.
After kittens grow past their infant stage of life, they no longer produce the enzyme needed to break down their mama cat’s breast milk. This means they can’t break down cow’s milk either. Just as milk upsets lactose-intolerant humans’ digestive systems, it can cause cats to suffer from painful side effects, too.
If you find that your home is currently cat-less and you have the love and time for a new lifelong friend, there are many cats in shelters who need someone like you to care for them. If you can’t adopt, consider volunteering at a cat shelter, donating toys, blankets, and food, or fostering cats in need.
Minnie, Rowan, and Korra would love to have your love and support. In exchange, they’ll share updates with you about how they’re doing and you’ll receive several additional surprises as well!
All donations raised from the adoption of our magical animal companions helps us continue the work that we do to raise awareness for all magical and non-magical animals in need.
Have you ever avoided black cats, offered cow’s milk to your companion, or kept your top floor windows open in the summertime? We hope you’ve learned something from this roundup of common cat myths and that you won’t participate in the propagation of said myths any longer. Are there any others you can think of?
On this International Cat Day, take a minute to ask yourself what you might be able to do to keep your favorite cat safe and happy. Let’s work together to raise awareness for proper cat care and expand our knowledge of what the cats in our lives need in order to be happy and content.