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Things That Really Suck

From the Mailbag: Can cats suck the breath out of babies?


Dear Urban Legends:

I wonder if you can shed any light on the old wives' tale that cats can suck the air out of babies. My daughter-in-law's mother (a RN) says that cats get in the bed with babies and lick their mouths and then suck the air out of them and the babies die.

Dear Reader:

Well, it's false, obviously. Take a close look at the shape of any cat's mouth and you can see it would have a devil of a time sucking the breath out of a baby (or anything else that breathes). Maybe they taught something different in your daughter-in-law's mother's nursing school, but if you ask me it's not felinely possible.

According to some versions of this old superstition, breath-sucking cats are attracted to infants by the scent of milk. Animal experts say that's bunk. Cats are curious by nature and love to curl up next to other warm bodies. If the cat's in the cradle, it probably isn't looking for anything other than a comfy place to snooze.

The notion that cats can suck the breath out of babies dates back hundreds of years. It probably originated in medieval beliefs associating felines with evil spirits and witchcraft. If it seems strange that people still buy into such nonsense, consider this: 80% of Americans polled by CNN truly believe the U.S. government is hiding evidence of extraterrestrial visitors.

I don't want to alarm anyone, but how do we know space aliens don't love the scent of milk too?

* * *

Dear Urban Legends:

This is a story my nephew told me was "really true." Seems he knows someone who knows the woman. Anyway, she had a new Oreck sweeper and was cleaning house. Her cat got a little too close to the sweeper, which attached to the poor thing's rear end.

The sweeper was so powerful that it sucked the insides out of the cat through its rectum and the cat died. He swears "this is true." I guess if it can pick up a bowling ball (old commercial), it can suck the insides out of a cat.

Guess the instructions need to read: "Keep away from pet rectums."

Dear Reader:

Words to live by!

Getting to the bottom of this story, could the suction of a vacuum cleaner really eviscerate a small animal? Conceivably. Did this precise incident actually happen? Considering the source — the friend of a friend of a relative — I wouldn't bet on it. We're in urban legend territory here.

Are Oreck vacuum cleaners more dangerous around pets or humans than any other brand? I've not seen any hard evidence to suggest it.

Similar stories have circulated for years about human beings disemboweled by other types of suction devices – most recently there was a yarn describing a corpulent man losing his innards to an airliner toilet when he flushed while still seated. Dubious, yes – but another tale about the same thing happening aboard a passenger ship was rated "TRUE" in the alt.folklore.urban FAQ.

And then there was the equally true story of the guy who got his penis stuck in the water intake hole of a motel swimming pool. It took paramedics more than a half hour to free him. That really sucks.

* * *

Dear Urban Legends:

I am writing to you about the Altoids legend. After reading this on your Website, I decided to experiment. (I didn't tell my husband I was going to do this, so he had no preconceived ideas.) I started giving him fellatio without the Altoids then jumped up and quickly chewed three of them and went back to it.

He says there is an incredible difference! He said the amount of sensation before was three to four on a scale of one to ten. With the Altoids it was at least an eight!

Dear Reader:

Um....  thanks for sharing?

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