Every October cat lovers turn their attention to the misunderstood black cats. Centuries of superstition and ignorance continue to this day which is why most shelters won’t allow black cats to be adopted close to Halloween. But what about myths or beliefs about other color cats? Are orange cats really more laid back, or tortoiseshell cats more aloof?
A new study suggests that even cat lovers judge felines by their colors, rather than their personalities. And those judgments can be deadly. Dark-colored cats are euthanized more often than light-colored ones, while tortoiseshell cats are frequently as having too much attitude or “tortitude.”
Mikel Delgado, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in psychology at UC Berkeley wanted to learn more about cat color bias. In an online survey, researchers asked 189 people to assign personality traits to cats of different colors. The researchers reported in their paper: “There were significant differences in how participants in this study chose to assign personality terms to differently colored cats. For example, participants were more likely to attribute the trait “friendliness” to orange cats, “intolerance” to tri-colored cats [tortoiseshells], and “aloofness” to white and tri-colored cats. No significant differences were found for “stubbornness” in any colors of cats. White cats were seen as less bold and active and more shy and calm than other colors of cats.”
Delgado said in a news release, ”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.” Adopting a cat should involve evaluating the creature’s personality, not its coat. In other words, don’t judge a cat by its color. Black cats and torties can be just as friendly — or aloof — as their orange pals. We hope that this study will be a starting point for further research in what qualities affect adoption and retention of pet cats, and whether there is a genetic or physical basis (such as coat color) for personality differences in cats,” she added, ”Previous research supports the existence of ‘black cat’ syndrome, where black and brown cats are less likely to be adopted than cats of other colors.”
The results of the study:Human Perceptions of Coat Color as an Indicator of Domestic Cat Personality.Authors: Delgado, Mikel M.; Munera, Jacqueline D.; Reevy, Gretchen M. was published this week in the online issue of Anthrozoos, the official journal of the International Society for Anthrozoology. The abstract is available here