Does Your Cat Like The Color Black?

I wonder if cats have color preferences with a particular liking for black. We might think our cat has a preference for a particular colour because she always lies on clothes of that colour whenever she can. However, it maybe that clothes of a particular colour are the ones that smell most of you, the cat’s owner, because you wear them most often. Or is your cat copying your colour preferences? Or, most likely, has the cat’s evolution from African wildcat to domestic cat resulted in the domestic cat liking certain colors because they are seen as good and ultimately better for survival.

“..nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” (Biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky 1973)

As for humans, females tend to favour bright colors to attract males for the purposes of procreation. Females like white cars for the same reason. Men prefer silver cars? If so, perhaps it is because it makes them appear wealthier to attract females. That is the sort of point I am making. Apparently, in general, humans prefer colors that relate to objects they like. But that is oversimplifying it.

Feral cat sleeping in black metal container

Feral cat sleeping in black metal container. Photo by dominiqs


A note about the phrase:The color black” – – Total darkness (no light source) that looks black is not a color. Clothes that are black have colors that do not reflect light and so appear black. Black clothes therefore have the color “black”.


A factor as to whether a cat likes a certain colour is the quality of the cat’s eyesight. We believe that cats do see colours but not as well as people. Apparently cats have a poor sensitivity to the color red, one of the primary colors. They see blue, green OK. This less than perfect colour vision will affect color selection if a cat wants to select a colour.

I would argue that it is certainly possible that a cat likes certain colours more than others because of the following potential reasons:

  • Black: black clothes absorb heat from sunlight, if in sunlight. This makes them warmer and cats like warmth. A simple formula. Also when a cat sleeps she wants to find a safe area. In the wild this might be a den of some sort in dense undergrowth, where it is dark, or a cave. A cat might prefer a black rug or item of clothing to sleep on because the cat feels it is safer to sleep there. This would be a hard-wired evolutionary response to the need to survive.
  • A newborn kitten is raised during early days and weeks on a rug or material of a certain color. This might affect the cats preferences later on because she associates the color with the security she felt when being nursed by mother.

Conclusion

Cats are likely to prefer black because it represents something good: better survivability.

Cats are hard wired to find a safe place to sleep. Black equates to darkness and darkness in turn relates to safety at a time when a cat is in a vulnerable situation i.e. sleeping or resting or raising cubs. Breeders should provide boxes or igloos that are lined in black or a dark finish for their cats to use as a den.

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Does Your Cat Like The Color Black? — 7 Comments

  1. I think it has to do with the fact that black materials feel warmer. Black clothing is warmer to wear than white. There are times of the year where I wouldn’t want to wear even anything that is black, even a t-shirt. It makes you feel hotter. Cats like to feel hot, I think. They lie in the sun until their fur gets just hot and they seem to love it.

    Elisa once mentioned that her cats tend to group together by color. I was just at The Cat Network on Saturday and one of the volunteers was telling another volunteer about that. He said he’s noticed it more than once that all the gray cats will be sleeping together, the black cats group together, the striped tabby cats seem to hang out together, the orange cats together. He said there was a cage open one day and the gray cat whose cage it was went in there and before too long there were a bunch of gray cats in there with her.

  2. I wonder also if a cat’s own colour has any effect on his or her preferred colour. Lilly is black – I am not sure what colour she prefers but I can tell you that if she is on a black jumper and the light is dim or low you can basically not see her. I wonder if she knows that. Tabby cats are almost impossible to see in the nature/long grass/woods – I wonder if they know it too. I guess logically there could easily be some kind of instinctive preference which is either the same for most or all cats or quite varied from one cat to the next. Interesting idea.

    • Nice point. Tabbies probably favour tree stumps etc to blend in. I believe it is all about evolution and survival. It has to be. I am not sure cats do have color preferences but it is a nice thought and it seems very possible.

      • I hadn’t thought of that– it’s a natural instinct that helps to make them harder to see. I love the way Monty’s black fur stands out against the white snow in the winter. He’s so easy to see out there. I wonder if that makes him feel uncomfortable. He doesn’t like snow. He likes to get into the underbrush in summer, under the shadow of plants where he is invisible.

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