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View Full Version : Why do cats have such a bad reputation?



newmod
08-09-2006, 07:20 AM
Out of curiosity, does anyone know how cats came by their negative reputation? "They´re treacherous, unfriendly, mercenary, show no affection, have no loyalty ..." and so on. I hear this frequently and always have to take arms against a sea of ignorance.

Do you come across this much?

I suppose the origin is because dogs are perceived as better "companions" and "friends". I like dogs (well the ones that aren´t dangerous:cry: ) but often find them intrusive and almost clingy. One of the things I like about cats is that they are independent. Also they tend to have better breath than dogs, at least in my experience :tongue

Also, a second question, do you have a preferred animal/breed and why?

Cheers,
newmod

DeborahM
08-09-2006, 07:35 AM
I love the American Curl's. They are a cross between the siamese and tabby's. I've had two come across my path. They are loyal, loving, and both of them (males) came when I called them.

I've had other breeds, mostly mixed, which have the independent streak and lack of affection.

Lucky was neutered at a young age, which probably adds to his being so loving, but I noticed a perfune smell in his coat I just love to bury my face into.

I used to raise welsh corgi's. Great breed! Considering one of each to be raised together in the future, if I lose Lucky. Of course the cat would have to be another American Curl.

newmod
08-09-2006, 08:31 AM
I think I may have just answered my own first question in a post I put in the catnip thread.

As cats are more effective at hunting and killing this is probably another reason people don´t like them. But my 2 now couldn´t kill a anything, I´m sure. They´re hopless predators.

In fact only one of the four cats I´ve had was in any way a predator. Mmm, are cats the Great White of the (semi) domesticated animal world???

gromhard
08-09-2006, 12:19 PM
Well the history of cat/human relationships is interesting. In Egypt I'm sure you all know, cats were considered sacred, especially to the cat headed goddess Bast.
In Europe, during the dark ages, cats were thought to be evil(I've never heard exactly HOW this superstition started though) so they killed all the cats and then had plague mice infest them.
Currently I meet people all the time who hate cats. Generally they're people who lack compassion, in my experience. They can't abide that a cat has self respect. They like the shallowness, eager to please servitude of a dog. They like the slobbering tongue and the way a dog will do whatever is commanded of him.
As they're that type of person usually the cats they've come in contact with have been mean to them. My two cats(dead now rest their souls) were very skittish, they were affraid of new people, so when I'd have someone over and they saw the cats scurry under a bed then they'd take it personally. As if the cats were putting on aires.
They just didn't understand cats.

Robert Toy
08-09-2006, 12:31 PM
Everyone knows it’s a dog driven conspiracy, no truth to it at all.

P.H.Delarran
08-09-2006, 12:53 PM
i always figured that because they are more independent than canines, felines fail to feed some people's need to be superior, needed, some even worshipped. this ticks some people off.
but i find them affectionate, smart, and just plain nice to pet...purrrrrr.

dogs can be so annoying. pant pant scratch sniff lick drool. ewww.
shhh. don't tell Stanley i said that (my dachshund).

Robert Toy
08-09-2006, 03:04 PM
That’s okay, Dachshunds are really cats with a hormone problem.

oarsman
08-09-2006, 04:45 PM
Here's a couple of things I think add to their bad reputation:

1. Black cat - associated with bad luck
2. Halloween / Haunted houses -- cats add to the image of mystery and fear.
3. Myths such as "cats smother babies" -- this is not true
4. Television -- cats are shown as the evil element in some cartoons: Sylvester, the Siamese cats in Lady & the Tramp, etc. Dogs are usually the heros.

We have a friend that is afraid of cats. If our cats go near her, she will leave the room. Our cats sense her fear. When she is over our house, our cats walk into the room and stare at her. She tries to shoo the cats away, but they ignore her....that makes our friend even more afraid of them (By the way, she doesn't visit often). I think her fear comes from the independent nature of the cat. Cats don't react like dogs do. They quietly enter a room (normally), observe, and don't have the predictability of dogs. It makes some people assume that they're "up to something evil".

Fern
08-09-2006, 06:17 PM
I guess I've never thought much about cats having a bad rep.

What many people don't seem to grasp is that animals are "animals". Depending on their circumstances, you may never see the other side of them, but I promise you, it is there.

Our cat is a loving pet. He is also a miniature killer/predator. When you think of a cat hunting mice, think of a lion and its prey. The only difference is the size. Ours can go from being a loving ball of fur cuddled up on the end of my daughter's bed, to a hunter in a New York second. Thats one reason I don't like the idea of people declawing a cat. If, for any reason, they are ever on their own for food, their death warrant has been signed if they have no claws.

Dogs are the same as far as the pet/animal thing goes. If you have one, you have a pet. If you have two, you have a pack. The larger the dogs in the pack and the larger the pack, the more trouble they can get into.

If I'm not mistaken, laws are different in many places as regards dogs and cats and liability, etc. People can usually be fined for their dogs getting out and being destructive, but its different for cats since they are considered predators and therefore it is their "nature" to be out and about hunting, making it harder to keep them "up".

I love cats, but the one thing I detest about them is the rubbing around the ankles thing. I can't stand it. Some do it a lot, others not so much. We've been lucky in that ours rarely do that.

Ever notice how many writers have cats?

awatkins
08-09-2006, 06:27 PM
3. Myths such as "cats smother babies" -- this is not true.

I knew someone once who swore this was true. I had a beautiful Russian Blue named Smoky when my daughter was born and my friend nearly had a heart attack because I wouldn't get rid of the cat. "It'll smother that baby!" she said over and over. My daughter is now 28 years old, so somehow she managed to survive that 'murderous' cat. *sigh*

Has anybody ever heard of a case where a cat smothered a baby? I never have!

And, Fern, yes. It certainly seems that many writers have cats. :)

davids
08-09-2006, 06:30 PM
They are independant little creatures who use us only for their daily whims-it pisses most of us off that they don't really give a damn

We have a Fox Terrier who chases rabbits and we believe he thinks they are sex toys

Robert Toy
08-09-2006, 06:59 PM
They are independant little creatures who use us only for their daily whims-it pisses most of us off that they don't really give a damn

We have a Fox Terrier who chases rabbits and we believe he thinks they are sex toys
Both sound a lot like humans, different sexes.

Oh boy, that’s going to get me in trouble.

KatyaFleur
08-09-2006, 07:00 PM
Has anybody ever heard of a case where a cat smothered a baby? I never have!



Goodness, no. I always suspected that this story was an old wives' tale that was invented to explain the mystery of SIDS. I agree that this belief probably is one root of cats' undeserved reputation.

Well, I've done my part. My husband admits that I (and my cat) have changed his mind about cats forever. (I expect my kitty's charm takes most of the credit.) Now, despite his allergy to cat dander, he wants to adopt more of them! No objections from me...

Katya

oarsman
08-09-2006, 07:20 PM
Goodness, no. I always suspected that this story was an old wives' tale that was invented to explain the mystery of SIDS. I agree that this belief probably is one root of cats' undeserved reputation.


You got my curiosity going (and I know that "curiosity killed the cat"). I did some quick research. I found that in 1791, a coroner's court in England delivered a verdict that "a baby had been killed by a cat sucking out its breath". The real cause was more likely SIDS, which wasn't recognized at that time. Some other SIDS cases were blamed on the cat after 1791. So, I guess that might be how the myth got started.

awatkins
08-09-2006, 07:37 PM
Interesting. Thanks, Oarsman!

sharra
08-09-2006, 09:05 PM
i find them affectionate, smart, and just plain nice to pet
dogs can be so annoying.

I've had both as pets/companions and general wardrobe/furniture destroyers. I found the cats just as affectionate (and sometimes neurotically jealous) as the dogs.

I have not yet had a cat that attempted to shag my leg in company, however..

Fern
08-09-2006, 10:20 PM
Regarding the cat smothering the baby thing, I've also heard it all my life. It was more a "stealing the breath" kind of smothering, rather than lying over the baby or anything of that sort. What my Dad used to say was - think about it. . .babie have milk breath so the cat is probably up there in their face smelling their breath and parents, seeing the cat right in the baby's face, freak out, imagining whatever.

That said, it really isn't a good idea to leave any cat or dog in the room alone with a baby, especially a newborn.

newmod
08-09-2006, 10:27 PM
1. Black cat - associated with bad luck

But in Britain and Japan a black cat is good luck. Throughout most (all?) of continental Europe bad luck.

Superstitions are funny things. In Britain/North America Friday the 13th is bad, in Spain Tuesday 13th. :Shrug:

newmod
08-09-2006, 10:29 PM
You got my curiosity going (and I know that "curiosity killed the cat").

Ah, but remember "satisfaction brought him back". Interpret that as you wish.

johnnysannie
08-09-2006, 10:34 PM
Regarding the cat smothering the baby thing, I've also heard it all my life. It was more a "stealing the breath" kind of smothering, rather than lying over the baby or anything of that sort. What my Dad used to say was - think about it. . .babie have milk breath so the cat is probably up there in their face smelling their breath and parents, seeing the cat right in the baby's face, freak out, imagining whatever.

That said, it really isn't a good idea to leave any cat or dog in the room alone with a baby, especially a newborn.

I've always heard that "cats will suck babies' breath" and although I know very well that it is not true, we had no house cats until my kids were past the baby stage!

KatyaFleur
08-09-2006, 11:28 PM
Good research, Oarsman! That's interesting.

I did hear one very interesting story about a cat saving a baby--can't remember where I saw this, but I remember one family being interviewed because they discovered their baby had stopped breathing in time to get help and save the baby's life. They discovered it in time because the family cat, who liked to hang out in the nursery, got freaked out and started yowling like all-get-out. (I'm with Fern, though--I wouldn't leave any pet alone with a newborn. But it sure made a good story.)

Katya

MidnightMuse
08-09-2006, 11:28 PM
Fern's right. We heard that SO often in the Veterinary clinics - that cats smother babies.

It's not true.

But it IS true that the myth started going around because Babies have breath that smells like warm milk, so it's not unheard of to find a cat sleeping next to a baby's head, or even leaning over to have a wiff. Even licking baby food off Jr.'s face.

But they don't smother anyone. Except one I had as a kid who enjoyed sleeping across my throat when I'd nap on the couch -- but he was just trying to cut off the blood flow to my head :D

I love all animals, and would adore having dogs, but since I work and spend 8 hours a day gone from the house, I prefer to keep cats because of their independence. But they still snuggle on the couch, love to see me come home, talk a lot, play and believe life exists to have a good time and sleep.

awatkins
08-10-2006, 12:56 AM
...but he was just trying to cut off the blood flow to my head :D



Oh. Well that's different. :D

oarsman
08-10-2006, 06:39 AM
But in Britain and Japan a black cat is good luck. Throughout most (all?) of continental Europe bad luck.

Superstitions are funny things. In Britain/North America Friday the 13th is bad, in Spain Tuesday 13th.

I've had more bad Tuesdays than Fridays. Even the 13th is not bad on a Friday. :)

El gato negro-
If you name your black cat with a British or Japanese name, then you must get good luck! Right?

I've always heard the tale that cats have nine-lives...it is different in Spain, right? Don't they have less lives in Spain?

newmod
08-10-2006, 06:57 AM
You have reason (as it goes in Spanish) here cats only have seven lives :Shrug:

Well, in reality I suspect they have one, just like everywhere else. But I could be wrong ..

CATastrophe
08-11-2006, 06:35 PM
I'd always been a dog person until I met my husband. I was just amazed at how much like dogs these cats can be. They truly are like potato chips, can't stop at just one.

I guess I was operating under the assumptions they were aloof, sneaky, sly. And while that may be true for some, I can't get them off of me. :ROFL:They hang on me like bad fur coats, come when I call them, or when I open the fridge (just like teenagers and stick a head in the door - just lookin' fer chikun- she tells me when I shoo her away). And even more so than dogs, they talk all the time.

I'm absolulely smitten by the kitten, you could say. I've been won over to the dark side. :roll:

As for breed, we've got one purebred, an Abby. She's a tiger's attitude in her little 7 pound body. Her health has been a challenge. The rest of the clowder are from shelters, or taken in from the street. They Abby was my husband's wish. Like when I had dogs, fancy doesn't matter to me. I'd rather take in a rescue. I guess the only consideration I have is I prefer anything without a "pushed in face" or long hair. ;)

I was seriously considering a Singapura a few years ago, but they were hard to come by and the Humane Society had an adorable little tabby...so I opted for the one who needed an immediate home.

oarsman
08-11-2006, 09:29 PM
I guess I was operating under the assumptions they were aloof, sneaky, sly. And while that may be true for some, I can't get them off of me. :ROFL:They hang on me like bad fur coats, come when I call them, or when I open the fridge (just like teenagers and stick a head in the door - just lookin' fer chikun- she tells me when I shoo her away). And even more so than dogs, they talk all the time.
:ROFL:

I've noticed that the more you talk to your cats, the more they talk back! I have one that never talked as a kitten, but now he could host his own talk show.



As for breed, we've got one purebred, an Abby. She's a tiger's attitude in her little 7 pound body.

Abbys are very active cats, aren't they? Does she like to sit in your lap? My neighbor has a Bengal cat, which I think were bred from Abbys and some other breed originally. It's a beautiful cat with an exotic wild spotted pattern...it looks like a minature leopard. He is always exploring, hunting, and playing. He doesn't like to be held or sit on laps. He's too busy for that!

DeborahM
08-12-2006, 12:12 AM
:ROFL:

I've noticed that the more you talk to your cats, the more they talk back! I have one that never talked as a kitten, but now he could host his own talk show.

That is so true! I've been talking to Lucky for 9 years and he's quite the talker and has gotten more demanding at to what he wants and wanting it NOW!


I knew someone once who swore this was true. I had a beautiful Russian Blue named Smoky when my daughter was born and my friend nearly had a heart attack because I wouldn't get rid of the cat. "It'll smother that baby!" she said over and over. My daughter is now 28 years old, so somehow she managed to survive that 'murderous' cat. *sigh*

Has anybody ever heard of a case where a cat smothered a baby? I never have!

And, Fern, yes. It certainly seems that many writers have cats. :)


I've heard of an instance where they tried to blame the cat, but it turned out to be CIDS. Fred, my husband, woke up one morning unable to breathe or see and realized my mother's cat, Harry, was resting on his face!

CATastrophe
08-18-2006, 06:53 AM
Abbys are very active cats, aren't they? Does she like to sit in your lap? My neighbor has a Bengal cat, which I think were bred from Abbys and some other breed originally. It's a beautiful cat with an exotic wild spotted pattern...it looks like a minature leopard. He is always exploring, hunting, and playing. He doesn't like to be held or sit on laps. He's too busy for that!
Because of her anemia she runs hot and cold. Hyper about grooming and runs, not waltzes like the others, from room to room. Tail straight up, often aquiver, and trots or double times. She believes she is royalty and won't let anyone forget it. She loves my husband and will sit in his lap for hours. But she doesn't care to be held or confined in anyway. She is very social and greets anyone at the door and will get on people's shoulders. She doesn't play much. No interest in being like the 'commoners' here. ;) But she will lick a catnip mouse until it cries for mercy.

I've seen bengals and love them. They are so pretty with the beautiful markings. But I think I will stick to my ragtag bunch. :)

kikonie
08-18-2006, 07:17 AM
Cats can be very useful. Take Bugsy, for instance (bless her departed soul).

A bat made its way into our house in the early hours...woke us with its flapping about. My brave husband, six foot four when standing, pulled the sheet up over his head, leaving the women to defend the household, me, being all of five foot two, and Bugs, a tad smaller.

I turned the light on in all the rooms but one. Worked like a charm. (BTW, I had no further plan at this moment.) Bugsy and I entered the darkened room after the bat and I closed the door behind us. For some reason, I had brought a towel with me.

I turned on the light. Bugsy leapt into the air, clapped her paws about the flipping bat and brought it down to the floor with a small thud. I threw the towel over the wee black thing and slid a cardboard under all. We escorted the soft package to the back door where I flicked it up into the night sky.

We did a repeat performance a couple of years later.

oarsman
08-19-2006, 07:07 AM
I turned on the light. Bugsy leapt into the air, clapped her paws about the flipping bat and brought it down to the floor with a small thud. I threw the towel over the wee black thing and slid a cardboard under all. We escorted the soft package to the back door where I flicked it up into the night sky.

We did a repeat performance a couple of years later.


Wow. You could have started a bat removal service! Bats are good to have around, but not around the inside of the house. They eat tons of insects. Some people put up bat houses outside their home to encourage the bats to live outside of the house. As a bonus, the bats are good tenants and will eat lots of mosquitoes and other insects.

I had a cat that loved to catch flying insects. It is surprising how good a cat can be at catching flying insects (or for Bugsy....flying mammals). :)

Bk_30
08-19-2006, 11:31 PM
I have had both cats and dogs my entire life. My grandmother had a working farm so of course there where the "working cats" that didn't like human contact other than the dry kibble in the morning. The house cats where usually kittens that where adopted from the barn for one reason or another and the two sets where very different from each other.

I have seen cats that love cuddles and attention. I personaly have a cat at this time who thinks he is a dog, and a dog that believes he's a cat ...so you figure that one out.

oneidii
09-01-2006, 12:20 PM
Well, I've had both dogs and cats too. Well, a cat, long ago. A hairy one. But the dogs I've had in my life operate as cats...they're sighthounds, and a more independent-minded dog you'll never meet.

Which is why, in two weeks, we introduce our (long awaited) Sphynx kitten to our family. I've been around Sphynxs (Sphynx'? Sphynxes?) lots, and their crazy attitude and in-your-face-ness was a huge draw. Not like the Azawakh, that'll sit and chill, waiting for you to bring him his food.

I don't know which I like better, but you avowed cat peoples ought to try a nice sighthound. You'll be happy with the personality parallels. ;)

Oneidii
--
www.collar-queen.blogspot.com

kikonie
09-02-2006, 02:19 AM
What's a sighthound?

eldragon
09-02-2006, 02:26 AM
A bad cat is worse than a bad dog, in my opinion.

I have 12 cats and 2 dogs and 11 of my cats are "good."

The 11th cat cannot come inside unless there is a major storm outside. (Snow or hurricane.)


You can teach a bad dog to behave: just ask Cesar Milan. But a bad cat will never change ..........no way no how.

The best you can hope for is that it will move away. (the cat.)

Anthony Ravenscroft
09-02-2006, 06:19 AM
Anyone else start cataloguing their cat's vocabulary?

Previously, I'd only had one cat with a clear spoken language, but for the most part it never made any sense, but she enjoyed trying. Motley had a complex range of prrts, tweets, & chatters that I think were her effort to emulate the humans around her. I'd say something, she'd answer back, I acted like I understood, & we could go on like that for an hour while I washed the dishes or whatever.

Now I've got two cats. Kamala is a bit shy, but she does clearly ask questions, generally centered around food or going outside.

But Ouja surprised me two years ago. He's a 20-pound Siamese (silver lynxpoint). I stepped out on the deck, & he followed me, but Kamala wasn't anywhere, so I looked inside & said, "Kamala?" Ouja stopped rolling in the grass, put his head back inside, & clear as day said "Mawa?"

Since then, I've unconsciously collected maybe a dozen sounds like "Reh!" (general happiness) that he recognizes & echoes. When I wrote a mystery, the central character has a cat, & I was able to make their interaction deeper for the ability to create believable "dialogue," like the fact that "arra" means "food."

earthshoes
09-02-2006, 06:41 AM
We have seven cats--two of whom have "words". Two say "Out" very plainly and one says "yeah" when asked if she's hungry or wants in or out. Our theory is that they take note of what works and make use of it.

My German Shepherd shakes his head "no" and barks to say yes.

Nancy
09-02-2006, 09:00 PM
My cat is a talker, too. If fact he is more responsive to "nap" than he is "dinner." That's because he is his sleep-deprived mother's son.

But lately his 3 a.m. monologues are getting a bit annoying. He starts talking downstairs and accelerates as he comes closer to the bedroom. Hubby is not amused, as he has to get up at 4:30.

KatyaFleur
09-03-2006, 12:38 AM
The cat I grew up with had a special "word" to let us know he had a hairball: "woe woe woe!" I'd never heard a cat make that sound before, or since!

Katya

Thomma Lyn
09-03-2006, 05:17 AM
Ever notice how many writers have cats?

Yup (check out my avatar, for one). :D

Cats are incorrigibly independent creatures. So are writers.

Cats need space to contemplate, to breathe, to be. So do writers.

Both cats and writers can be hard to get to know, but once we let you in and learn to trust you, we're fiercely loyal.

Neither writers nor cats are known for our gregariousness, but we are known for the intensity of our emotions.

And both cats and writers appreciate life's simple pleasures: a good meal, a good snooze, a good chase (whether of a mouse or a well-realized story).

I have to say, however, that I'm glad writers don't get hairballs.

Cath
09-03-2006, 05:16 PM
Do your cats talk to birds?

Both our girls do it (but not the boys). They sit on the window-sill and make this kind of "ackackackackack" sound. Wierd.

alleycat
09-03-2006, 05:22 PM
Is it like they're clicking their teeth? That's the sound my cat makes when she's "admiring" the birds.

She makes quite another sound when the neighbor's cat come on the deck. Or the raccoons. Or the possum.

Thomma Lyn
09-03-2006, 09:41 PM
Do your cats talk to birds?

Both our girls do it (but not the boys). They sit on the window-sill and make this kind of "ackackackackack" sound. Wierd.

Both our kitty girls do it, too. They also talk to bugs they find in the house. :)

DeborahM
09-03-2006, 11:15 PM
Do your cats talk to birds?

Both our girls do it (but not the boys). They sit on the window-sill and make this kind of "ackackackackack" sound. Wierd.

Mr. Lucky does that. It almost sounds like he's laughing. He also loves to go out in the late afternoon and quietly watch as they eat before their bedtime.

Cath
09-03-2006, 11:44 PM
So, is it a girl kitty thing? Or do boy kitties do it too?

(Deborah, I guess Mr Lucky at one point!). :)

Anthony Ravenscroft
09-04-2006, 01:22 AM
I oughta make clear that I really do like dogs, a lot. But I'm the second generation "off the farm," & we have the in-built belief that a dog ought to have at least a quarter-acre of running room for every ten pounds it weighs! I've rarely had a yard, much less fenced, so I figure I'll have a small herd of Labradors when I retire.

Besides, even with a huge bed, one Lab takes up more bed than ten cats.

I actually broke up with someone over dogs. She had a Golden & a Sheltie, & a big fenced yard with a sharp 20-foot decline. I'd come over after work, then after dinner I'd go throw tennis balls for the dogs. They thought I was great. Problem is, I'd walk in the door behind my ladyfriend, & her dogs would practically knock her over to greet me! That didn't go over so good....

kikonie
09-04-2006, 07:06 AM
Anthony, please confirm - you two split up because her dogs liked you better?

She's never seen the Smothers Brothers, has she?

country-writer
09-08-2006, 07:05 AM
I have been working with older feral cats for over twenty years now. Most of these creatures come here after suffering all sorts of trauma and abuse, because a cat in the wild is an open target for cat haters and bullies. I have had cats thrown out of car windows while the car was speeding down the road. Kittens surviving near drowing episodes, growing up with night terrors (fear of the dark). Cats burned with chemicals, poisoned and left to die. My latest girl has been here about 3 months now. She is 17 years old and suffered horrendous abuse from her former owner. She cannot walk, she crab-crawls and hops then falls over, but after finally breaking through her barriers, she has come out from under the bed and now sleeps in the middle of our bedroom floor. She can't jump, has to have a special pan for her litterbox needs.

Honestly, I just don't understand the intense hatred and I really believe that some people hate cats because they don't understand them. They want them to be "mini dogs" and unless you have a Somali or a Turkish Van who are very doglike in behavior, you are out of luck for trying to control a cat. You learn to read them, to understand their natural behavior and expect nothing from them. I currently have 18 cats here, they run in the house and in the cat enclosure attached to our home. All have either been abused or abandoned, and every single one of them are nothing short of delightful! Even Squirrel who loves to snatch my earrings, wedding ring or watch and race upstairs and bury her treasures in the litter box!

By the way about feral cats killing songbirds? It's poppycock. Only a well-fed cat has the stamina to hunt. Starving cats can't hunt that's why they starve. :(

kikonie
09-08-2006, 08:16 AM
Wow CW; I had a cat named Squirrel. Best cat ever. She loved to play fetch. The faster she ran to get 'it', the happier she was. She was also really loyal, which pissed off some people who thought they had cat appeal, but she would happily curl up on the lap of anyone she sensed was truly calm.

She was a good hunter. Just like Bugsy (the bat catcher) who looked like Squirrel's twin sister.