Superstitions and Myths About Dogs and Cats

In the 17th century, a cat washing her face meant a storm was brewing. But if the cat washes her face in front of a group of people, the first person she looks at will get married. And if you think a black cat is bad luck, seeing a white cat at night is a harbinger of death.

In the world of canines, a howling dog at night also means bad luck. A black dog is also considered unlucky in some parts of the world. But if your newborn is licked by a dog, he or she will always be a fast healer.

These are all obviously myths that have been handed down from generation to generation and spread from culture to culture. Sometimes the actions of our canine and feline companions can seem strange, weird or downright ominous (the sound of howling dogs, for instance, is eerie – like the souls of the dead being carried away).

But there are also more prosaic myths about dogs and cats that people continue to believe. Many are harmless, and have even risen to the status of "urban legend." But others, if acted upon, can hurt your pet. A child, for example, may not realize that cats do not really have nine lives, or that they don't always land on their feet.

Here are 10 of the most common myths about dogs and cats.