I guess this isn’t surprising given that humans judge each other by skin color, but a new study at the University of California at Berkeley shows that people judge cats by their fur color (see reference below). The University’s blurb:
To establish a link between how cat color influences adoption rates, Delgado and her co-authors used Craigslist to recruit a national sample of cat owners and cat lovers in large U.S. metropolitan areas. Participants were asked to rate, on a scale of 1 to 7, the personalities of black, white, bi-colored, tri-colored (tortoiseshell or calico) and orange cats based on their tendencies to be active, aloof, bold, calm, friendly, intolerant, shy, stubborn, tolerant and trainable.
While most people surveyed said personality informs their decision about which cat to adopt, the characteristics they ascribed to cats based on their coat color indicated that color consciously or unconsciously played a key role in their final choice of which kitty to take home.
Overall, orange cats and bi-colored cats were characterized as friendly, while black cats, white cats and tri-colored cats were regarded as more antisocial. White cats were considered to be more shy, lazy and calm, while tortoiseshell cats were more likely to be depicted as both more intolerant and more trainable. Black cats were typified as having less extreme character traits, which might contribute to their mysterious reputation.
What about tabbies? I haven’t yet read the piece but I’m sure Baihu wants to know.
. . . To date there is little evidence that these perceived differences between differently colored cats actually exist, but there are serious repercussions for cats if people believe that some cat colors are friendlier than others,” said Mikel Delgado, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in psychology at UC Berkeley.
I’m sure you can guess at least one of the repercussions:
At the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society (BEBHS), cat coordinator Cathy Marden is all too familiar with the psychology involved in pet adoptions. Staff members and volunteers there try to break down stereotypes at every opportunity, she said, and descriptions of each cat written on the adoption rooms cages highlight the individual’s characteristics.
While black cats are seen as mysterious, they’re also seen as bad luck, which is not a personality characteristic but undoubtedly plays a role in the following:
. . . reactions to black cats can be so strong, she said, that few adoptions take place at the shelter when there are more than a few black cats in the adoption room. “It’s a huge bummer,” said Marden, who has blogged on the BEBHS website about the “Top 10 Reasons to Adopt a Black Cat” and about the joys of adopting a monochromatic cat.
I had a black cat, Pangur, for 18 years, and he was a gentle and loving beast. I’m sure reader Linda Grilli, who has four goat-milk-swilling black cats, would vouch for them, too.
In the meantime, continuing the annals of TSA (Transportation Security Administration) incompetence and malpractice, they’ve lost a cat. According to the New York Times:
Iris Yu left a lot behind when she left Queens to care for her ailing father in Taiwan 10 months ago. But she was finally set to reunite with her cat, Xiaohwa, courtesy of a friend who was leaving for Taiwan last Thursday and agreed to take the cat to her.
When a Transportation Security Administration officer at Kennedy International Airport inspected Xiaohwa’s crate just before departure, though, the cat darted and disappeared into the bowels of Terminal 4.
Just like that, Xiaohwa, a 4-year-old tabby and mother to several litters of kittens (though none recently), became the latest in the growing roster of pets to go missing in an airport, leaving Ms. Yu and her boyfriend, Jerry Cheung, distraught.
Mr. Cheung, 36, of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, said on Tuesday that he was afraid that Xiaohwa could not survive long without care because she has the feline version of H.I.V. He said he did not think the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport, was doing enough to find her.
This is the missing moggie:
This is not the first time that the TSA has lost a cat, and, according to the Times piece, they’ve lost a whippet, too.
Better to be groped than lost.
h/t: Diane, Dom
Delgado, M. M., J. D. Munera, and G. M. Reevy. 2012. Human perceptions of coat color as an indicator of domestic cat personality. Anthrozoos 25:427-440.