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.)