Color-based stereotypes and superstitions about cats have real-world consequences, UC Berkeley reports.
A study by a Cal researcher found a correlation between cat color and perceived character among people surveyed.
A survey of 189 people with experience with cats found they are "likely to assign positive personality traits to orange cats and less favorable ones to white and tortoiseshell ones," said a campus news release. "Orange cats were largely regarded as friendly, white cats as aloof and tortoiseshell cats as intolerant."
Black and other dark-colored cats too suffered from negative stereotypes, the campus said.
“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,” said Mikel Delgado, a psychology Ph.D. student and lead author of the study. She was quoted in the press release.
A 2002 UC Davis study "found that dark cats are more likely to be euthanized, and that tortoiseshell cats are frequently typecast as having too much attitude or 'tortitude,'" the news release said.
At the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society shelter, negative stereotypes about black cats can mean that few are adopted when more than a few are available, the news release said.
“It’s a huge bummer,” said the shelter's cat coordinator Cathy Marden, quoted in the news release. Marden has posted on the shelter's blog the “Top 10 Reasons to Adopt a Black Cat.”
The study results were published in the journal of the International Society for Anthrozoology, Anthrozoos. The co-authors were Jacqueline Munera of New College of Florida and Gretchen Reevy of California State University, East Bay.