Today (August 17th) is National Black Cat Appreciation Day in the US! And as the whole month of August here at NAWT is dedicated to the cats and kittens in our care, we wanted to do something to raise awareness of the black cats in the UK awaiting their forever homes.
Traditionally Halloween presents rescue centres with an opportunity to feature black cats looking for homes, as it is a curious fact that these black-coated animals generally take longer to find homes. Perhaps it is because of our deep-rooted folklore beliefs such as black cats being witches' familiars or black dogs guarding the borders between this world and the next?
Or maybe it's the fact that their features are less distinct, or even that their teeth look whiter and more prominent than in other coat colours? Or the myth that black coated pets don't photograph well?
All this begs the question of whether the colour of an animal's fur can be an indication of its personality. As in humans, are red heads more fiery, and do blondes have more fun?
Although there is little research on this subject and opinions seem to vary widely, there is a common view that there's a close association between an animal's behaviour and pigment production. Over the thousands of years man and animal have lived together, it therefore follows that breeding for tameness and human interaction will inevitably impact coat colour. And when you work with a wide variety of domestic species on a day-to-day basis, some familiar patterns begin to emerge.
If black and white indicates tameness, what about the ginger tom? Various studies suggest that the gene associated with ginger fur may be linked to aggressiveness backing up the common view of the 'alley cat'. Does that link with hot-tempered redheads in other species, such as golden cocker spaniels, sometimes believed to suffer from 'rage syndrome' or the moody chestnut mare?
If you own a tortoiseshell cat, there are some interesting scientific views on the 'naughty tortie' too. The coat is created by switching chromosomes on and off. This is said to also affect the development of the brain tissue so the cat's personality becomes as random as its coat. And what of the black coated animals?
The limited research tends to suggest that they and the pale coated are the most tolerant and laid back of any species, although anyone who has encountered a dizzy blonde Labradoodle may take issue with that. So if the science suggests dark coated animals can live happily with both humans and in species groups, it must be our own perceptions that are getting in the way.
Last week we ran a survey on our Facebook, asking people to anonymously vote for their favourite colour of cat coat, when the results were in the staff at NAWT were baffled, as black cats came out on top. This could be because the majority of our Facebook audience have rescue cats, and by percentage, most of these people will have black cats as they're most common in rescue centres. However other research has also backed up our results.
So why are so many black cats still waiting for their forever homes? This one could be put down to a mystery, and all we know lots of different factors play a part. But the black cat mystery doesn't have to go on, rehome one today!
Visit our rehoming pages for more information about the cats in our care.