Three Things … Because There’s Always Three (And This Time It’s Cats)

Anyone who follows me on Facebook cannot help but notice that I recently went to the cat store (a.k.a. shelter). The thought was that we would get one, maybe two cats. In preparation, I had spent weeks looking at pictures and reading the cute descriptors of each of the felines. And that’s when I saw her – the kitten I was destined to have. Her name was Pumpkin (Now Harper Lee) and she was the cutest little thing in the whole place with her pink nose, tuxedo markings and playful disposition. I knew from her picture — she would be mine. And when I saw her in feline … well, it was a done deal.

We had also talked about getting her a playmate (mainly so she wouldn’t terrorize the dog), so we began to look around. And what we saw was upsetting. Two thirds of the cats, many of whom were adults, were black. I asked the woman who was helping us why there were so many and she said that, in her experience, no one wanted them. They were generally the last to be adopted and most frequently the ones that are euthanized. Needless to say, we added two black cats to our shopping cart for a total of three.

And this leads me to the point of this blog (which also has a clever seasonal tie-in to Halloween). What’s up with not wanting black cats?

According to Mikel Delgado, a doctoral student in psychology at UC Berkeley who is studying the relationships between animals and humans, it has to do with people’s preconceptions about black cats’ personalities and behavior.

In a 2012 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Delgado, who previously worked at an animal shelter, detailed the results of her study in which she surveyed 189 people on their perceptions of cats. The results indicated that, generally “orange cats are friendly, tortoiseshell cats are intolerant and aloof, white cats are less active and shy, and they admitted negative or no opinion whatsoever about black cats.”

But why? Are they more devilish than other cats? Does it have to do with witchcraft and the image of them as witch’s sidekicks? Is it because of long-held superstitions that they’re bad luck or harbingers of doom?

I have no idea. But what I CAN tell you is that since we brought Darwin, Bart and Harper into our home, we’ve had nothing but good things happen. In fact, if any of the three are demons, it’s Harper — which is why I’ve decided to paint her all black and see if that calms her down. (Just kidding. Sort of.)



  1. Ha! My beige/orange cat is the dumbest cat ever to live, and used to be aggressive, too, but has calmed in her old age. Our black cat (I say “our” but she belongs to my daughter) is the sweetest, nicest most loving cat I have ever owned. My tortoiseshell who just died 16 months ago was also sweet and loving and the perfect lap cat, I still miss her when I read. The most aloof, meanest cat I have ever owned was Mookie Mac and she was a grey tiger and I loved that cat more than anything. She loved only me and sort of my dad :). We had a very fun l onghair black cat for awhile- he disappeared- may have been the eagle. He had a tail that curled up and over his back and enough confidence for six cats.

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  2. I was owned by a Black Himalayan rescue kitten/cat for 17 years. He was my best friend and confident through many wonderful and harrowing adventures. Although he died eight years ago, I am not ready to be owned again. (I tried two years ago and it was just too soon.) They are the most wonderful of beings, aren’t they? He had a most delightful personality. When I am ready to be owned again, I shall remember your article and make sure I let a black cat choose me. I know that at the no-kill shelters where I visit, they are disproportionately represented. Soon, possibly very soon, if someone keeps up posting such enticing kitten photos…

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  3. I have to disagree with that study. Our tortoiseshell is our pooch. She greets us or any company at the dog and rolls onto her back for belly rubs. Her daughter, tortoise/white is an attention hound. I do agree about the orange cats, though. The one we just fond a home for melted my heart the first time he jumped into my lap and nuzzled me. Years ago when we were looking for a black kitty there were none to be found and the local resue shelter said they were the most popular and we ended up adopting a calico.

    Congrats on your adoptions, Sandra. They look precious!


  4. I had picked out a tuxedo cat. When I went to pick her up, there was one left. Why don’t you take her, I was asked (stupid owner couldn’t sex a cat). I did. They were lifelong friends, brothers, it turned out, and that last cat left was all black. Never occurred to me that people wouldn’t want a black cat. Enjoy yours!

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  5. I asked my partner who she thought were the naughtiest cats and she said calico. I’m not a cat person so I have no pre conceived perceptions about them. I told her about the black cat theory and she said ‘people are stupid’ I’m still laughing.


  6. The cat descriptions totally made me laugh! I had an orange cat who would bite me and a white cat who constantly ran around the house at high speed making pay-attention-to-me noises until he got snuggled! I’m glad that you allowed yourself to be adopted by all three kitties!! You’re a lucky one!!

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  7. Our mostly black cat is our snuggle bunny, and it’s the gray and white one who is more aloof(she was traumatized by life on the street and when she first moved in was scared of everything). I’ve heard that black cats and dogs have a harder time finding homes–seems like silly superstition.


  8. It’s easier to exercise control over a populace when they have something ‘other’ to hate on and persecute with extreme prejudice. (the Malleus Maleficarum, anyone?) That’s what those early religious patriarchal nutjobs did to women and cats, particularly black ones. Not rational – of course not, but it worked. And we’re still dealing with the fallout. (on many levels)

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  9. They are so lucky to have you and a furrever home. Would love to see pics. My black cat adopted me when she was 5 weeks old and weighed a pound. She showed up outside the vets office 10 min before I got there to pick up my cats ashes. She is a year and a half later and she is my lil tornado. Her name is Binx, yea I love the movie Hocus Pocus 🙂 I think my old cat sent her to me so I wouldn’t be alone. My mother says my girl is Crazy but Not stupid. Lol anyway i loved your story of adopting all three kitties 🙂 Juli


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