Racist Cats

I have two cats that I took in as strays when they were kittens. In front of my house is a protected natural area that the county owns and somebody had abandoned them there. They usually spend their time outside playing out by the creek in the preserve and when I come home they’ll come running out of the woods to greet me. Except when there’s Black people around. If one of my neighbors, who are Black, is standing outside, the cats will crouch by the edge of the woods with suspicious eyes. Sometimes they’ll wait for just the right moment when I walk into the door to bolt out of the woods and run inside. When I’m having a conversation with one of my Black neighbors, my cats will just look at me with apprehension and keep their distance.

Now, you might say that they’re just afraid of strangers and it has nothing to do with race. That’s what I thought for a while, until I began to witness their behavior towards others. When my family members or friends come over to visit, my cats are very affectionate and friendly. When my Black neighbor came over, my cats immediately took off upstairs. My two immediate neighbors are Black families and my cats run from all of them, even the children. Some of the teenagers in the neighborhood built a bridge over the creek and sometimes walk past my house to cut through the preserve. Any time some Black kids come by, my cats scatter, but I’ve seen them walk up to a few of the White kids that live in the neighborhood to get their heads rubbed.

I don’t know why my cats act this way. I can only assume that they had some bad experience with Black people. What I find interesting is that my cats can tell the difference. It’s funny to me that so many egalitarians keep insisting that race is just a social construct, yet animals are able to tell races apart. I wonder how they know. Is it as simple as the difference in appearance or is it maybe differences in scent? Growing up around Black people, I’ve noticed a distinct smell. If I can smell it, then I’m sure my cats can as well. I’ve heard that dogs can be trained to react to certain races as well. There was a story recently about a Black man that murdered his neighbor’s dog for being racist.

I sometimes feel bad about my cats’ behavior. Before I let my cats outside, I have to go out and survey the area to make sure the coast is clear, otherwise my cats will just run back inside if they see a Black person. It makes me feel like a weirdo when I walk outside and my neighbors are sitting on their front porch and I have to pretend that I’m going out to do something other than making sure they’re not around. When I was talking to my neighbor the other day, he saw one of my cats looking at us from a distance. He called my cat over, but he wouldn’t come. He said in a annoyed tone, “What’s wrong with your cats? They’re not very friendly!” I thought that he might be onto my cats’ racist ways.

I’ve told others about this before and someone joked that I should put my cats in a re-education program. It made me laugh because I’m sure that there’s some out there that would actually think that was a good idea. I figure my cats have their own reasons for feeling the way they do and it most likely has to do with their own safety and survival. It’s probably best that they keep an eye out for shady characters. I know I do.

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27 thoughts on “Racist Cats

  1. Interesting, and surprising.

    It shouldn’t be surprising. I’m sure there are plenty of cats who react differently to different breeds of dog. I couldn’t really predict what the reactions would be; a little chihuahua might be less intimidating, physically, but more intimidatED and perhaps likely to snap at a cat. So maybe a cat would lean more towards a big gentle breed? But it would depend on the cat and its own memory.

    And maybe atavistic memories. Who knows if there has been an intergenerational semi-feral community surviving by avoiding blacks and/or black people’s dogs, and befriending whites. Or maybe whites just discard more tuna cans.

    Hard to say how a cat would recognize a human ethnic group. They can obviously detect light or dark, but they can probably also detect gaits and postures which can certainly vary culturally. I think a lot of young* black males would admit, in one way or another, that they intentionally carry themselves, in terms of posture, pace, head angle, etc., to seem intimidating and formidable. Cats and dogs seem likely to pick up on this at least as quickly as humans.

    * But you didn’t specify that they were age-sensitive so I guess I’m speculating.

  2. P.S. That Hitler cat is really spooky looking. Its eyes are so hostile!

    I really don’t know whether to believe the video or not. Is someone twisting the little guy’s tail off camera? I wouldn’t have thought a cat would respond to a two-dimensional image that much.

  3. B Lode,

    No that video is just a joke. I just posted it because I thought it was funny. That Chinese guy in the video is a special effects artist and director and he posts vids like that all the time. The cat’s mouth is digitally altered. Not sure how he did the ears; he’s pretty skilled.

  4. My dad worked at the zoo for a few years when he was a kid. He told me about a lion that would whiz on blacks. But never anyone else. I thought he was yanking my chain when he told me. After all, how far can a lion shoot a stream? But he swears its true and that they can whiz further than you think.

  5. My dad worked at the zoo for a few years when he was a kid. He told me about a lion that would whiz on blacks. But never anyone else. I thought he was yanking my chain when he told me. After all, how far can a lion shoot a stream? But he swears its true and that they can whiz further than you think.

    Maybe it was due to fear. Animals will react strangely to you if they sense palpable fear.

    US black folks are often terrified of any animals, including dogs. When I was a kid, my black friend Ricky wouldn’t even ride his bike 1/2 mile to my house because 2 houses along the way had little yappy dogs in the back (inside the fence).

    That’s why dogs in black neighborhoods are always so mean and defensive – they pick up on fear or anger in their household, or aren’t socialized properly.

    On the other hand, fear could have helped this stupid fat chick who jumped into a polar bear exhibit and almost got killed:

  6. And maybe atavistic memories.

    After what Fred wrote, I think that might be a possibility. Domestic cats come from a breed of African wildcats. Maybe cats have natural distrust of Blacks, because they learned to avoid them in Africa? I know a lot of Black people have cats as pets, but maybe if they aren’t taught to bond with Blacks when they’re young they stay weary of them. My cats’ markings are more in line with the wilder breeds like Egyptian Mau, which are closer to their African fore bearers, so this sense might be stronger in them.

    I was thinking that something like this caused their distrust:
    black guy kicks cat

  7. That is sick, disturbing and something else that’s all-bad but that i can’t quite describe —- and i’m the farthest thing in the world from being an animal-rights activist.

    Sagat, you are one deranged former Monk! 🙂

  8. camlost says
    “US black folks are often terrified of any animals, including dogs. When I was a kid, my black friend Ricky wouldn’t even ride his bike 1/2 mile to my house because 2 houses along the way had little yappy dogs in the back (inside the fence).
    “That’s why dogs in black neighborhoods are always so mean and defensive – they pick up on fear or anger in their household, or aren’t socialized properly.”

    Camlost,
    I can’t quite figure you out: sometimes you make smart points about race, however hard and true, and even manage to impart some wit and humor into it.

    But other times, before today, too, you make absurd racial conjecture like you pulled from the above-quoted two graphs.

    So what’s up? Are you a gallant southern Eurasian gentleman on american racial matters or a wannabe redneck nitwit?

  9. So what’s up? Are you a gallant southern Eurasian gentleman on american racial matters or a wannabe redneck nitwit?

    LOL, I’ve never been “gallant” about much of anything but living in majority black areas has taught me one thing – US blacks are (almost as a rule) definitely scared of dogs they don’t know… but you find that absurd? I thought everybody knew that.

    So, you don’t find radical differences between how whites/blacks relate to dogs?

    Go to any inner city (aka black area) and tell me if the dogs seem friendly, in your estimation. Then go to any majority white area and see if the dogs are friendly.

    In the black neighborhoods you’ll see a disproportionate amount of the power breeds – rottweiler, pit bull etc.

  10. “In the black neighborhoods you’ll see a disproportionate amount of the power breeds – rottweiler, pit bull etc.”

    Well, this part I’ll sign on to, but your theory of causation and ‘socialization,’ applied to a rather low occupant of the mammalian hierarchy sounded a bit kooky to me! 🙂

  11. Well, this part I’ll sign on to, but your theory of causation and ‘socialization,’ applied to a rather low occupant of the mammalian hierarchy sounded a bit kooky to me!

    There’s nothing kooky about it at all. Socialization is very important for mammals, especially a domesticated species like dogs that needs to spend time around humans. Without proper conditioning when young, dogs won’t learn to trust humans. Besides the largest breeds of dogs, humans are usually larger and are seen as a physical threat. Animals instinctively fear humans and need to be taught to be comfortable around them. Dogs that are abused and mistreated by their owners tend to be maladjusted to human interaction and act aggressively.

    Dog behavior has been well studied and documented. This isn’t pseudo-science.

  12. It is all about affection. Any scared animal can be coaxed.

    Cats and dogs are a perculiar European trait, even to sleeping with them. “Who’s a good boy, who’s a good boy”.

    Eastern and African cultures find this anthropomorphic attraction repugnant.

    So there is no love lost between non-Europeans and cats and dogs. Chinese love to eat them.

    Maybe it’s genetic. Here, kitty, kitty.

  13. Well, OK, I’ll defer on this one, as I freely acknowledge I’m hardly expert on said matters; I wasn’t being too serious, but the sort-of psychoanalysis of what may cause pets to be surly or comforting sort-of reminded me of one of my pet peeves: those insufferable people who over-personify animals, i.e. their pets—– sometimes to the point of forsaking friends, spouses and other human relationships instead. I also can’t stand people who indulge that peculiar form of moral idiocy when they say glib shit like: ‘dogs are so much more loyal than humans in showing their affection and being honest with their feelings, etc.” I actually had a girlfriend for a short while in my young 20s who I quickly broke-up with because, among many reasons, I couldn’t stand the ridiculous sanctimony she put behind her overpersonifying her pets.

  14. p.s.—–
    i should that my sparring partner camlost most certainly did NOT display any of those annoying pet-owner platitudes himself —— but I guess his take on certain pet behaviors, thought fairly reasonable, triggered my biased personal experience on that subject.

  15. Yeah, I had a girlfriend who refused to leave her dog in the garage if she left for a few hours. I mean, no one loves dogs more than me but I realize they are still only dogs and are not to afforded the same rights as humans.

    If you ever watch Judge Judy, she always rules against anybody who doesn’t treat the dog like a human being.

    Ridiculous!!

  16. Yeah, essbro, I’ve become disturbed by the growing trend to treat dogs as a substitute for children. I don’t understand the psychology there.

  17. john mcneill says,
    “I don’t understand the psychology there.”

    I admit that i’m rather agnostic and indifferent when it comes to pets; I’ve never owned a dog —– but I’m not really ‘against’ the idea and have enjoyed (in moderation) being playful with the pets of friends and associates.
    As to the psychology, I think I do have a sense of what’s benind it: basically, it’s a sort-of narcissism that stems from seeking out ‘relationships’ in which one can project any image they want into a situation in which they also, not incidentally, have absolute and total control over. I mean, once you overpersonify a character onto an animal, it’s quite easy to interpret everything from there anyway you want to. This, of course, sounds quite absurd on the surface- and it is, but i can’t tell you how many young, single and relatively affluent people I know who put long hours and sweat into choosing a breed of dog and how much discretionary income they spend on said relationship’s upkeep: designer dog food, animal hotel expenses while the owner’s out of town, and, yes, ‘animal therapists’ for those inevitable times when ‘conflict’ arises in the ‘relationship.’

    All in all, yet another sign of imbalance stemming from the combination of too much affluence and not enough substance, imho.

  18. Yes Blacks are scared of dogs. That is why we Whites have them.
    Something else I have noticed is that a dog who has a black boss is not so aggresive towards a White as they are to other black strangers.
    Blacks do not have the same feeling towards animals as the Whites do. I see this all the time. There are a lot of horse drawn carriages still in use here in RSA. You have to see the abuse to believe it.
    Blacks will also kill an animal for no good reason. ( See “Africa Adio”)
    The Sotho Nation (not all of them) eat cats.That part in South Africa where I live.

  19. I’ve previously wondered if the difference in behavior towards animals was some inherited instinct or simply a learned trait. My personal opinion is that most whites probably have inherited a stronger tendency towards empathy for animals. And that this tendency is culturally reinforced. It goes without saying that not every white is kind to animals or every non white cruel to animals.

  20. Fred,

    It’s currently thought that both dogs and cats are self domesticated species that began to hang around humans as they developed agriculture and larger civilizations, benefiting from garbage consumption for dogs and rodent consumption for cats. The animals that were less afraid of humans were the ones that came around and eventually humans saw them as a useful and began selectively breeding them.

    Both Europeans and Asians have a long history of companionship with dogs, but I think that Europeans are responsible for the highest number of domesticated breeds of dogs and incorporated them the most into their culture.

    I’ve read before that dogs and humans are co-evolved species with dogs being the only species able to read human facial expression. Dogs are also the only species that humans are able to trigger a yawning response in by yawning themselves.

  21. Nikcrit’s post is interesting, and I can’t help but wonder if any particular race is more likely to pamper animals. How many blacks, Latinos, or Asians do you see coddling dogs like children? I think this goes beyond mere empathy.

  22. I admit that i’m rather agnostic and indifferent when it comes to pets; I’ve never owned a dog

    Maybe this explains why you didn’t seem to understand the concept of “socialization” initially.

    I’ve read before that dogs and humans are co-evolved species with dogs being the only species able to read human facial expression. Dogs are also the only species that humans are able to trigger a yawning response in by yawning themselves.

    Allegedly, Chimpanzees may have these same abilities, but chimps aren’t domesticated and can be quite dangerous to have around humans. (even when raised by humans from birth)

    This, of course, sounds quite absurd on the surface- and it is, but i can’t tell you how many young, single and relatively affluent people I know who put long hours and sweat into choosing a breed of dog and how much discretionary income they spend on said relationship’s upkeep: designer dog food, animal hotel expenses while the owner’s out of town, and, yes, ‘animal therapists’ for those inevitable times when ‘conflict’ arises in the ‘relationship.’

    LOL. Yes – little Fido “doesn’t need to be alone right now” since he’s mourning the breakup of his two owners.

    For a lot of affluent white Americans (SWPL) you are seeing pets replace children as objects of affection and attention.

  23. Camlost says,
    “For a lot of affluent white Americans (SWPL) you are seeing pets replace children as objects of affection and attention.”

    Hmmmm? Beyond being generally annoyed by such behaviors, I haven’t really considered it a wider and potentially more socially destructive pattern—— but who knows? I mean, what camlost posits here is sort-of what john mcneill seems to dread may becoming more and more common.

  24. “Nikcrit’s post is interesting …”

    Yes, he says,

    “As to the psychology, I think I do have a sense of what’s benind it: basically, it’s a sort-of narcissism that stems from seeking out ‘relationships’ in which one can project any image they want into a situation in which they also, not incidentally, have absolute and total control over.”

    I agree. And I think there are other factors involved. People who have intense relationships with dogs (and cats) are needy, insecure people who have people-relationship issues. Anyone who mistreats (abuses, beats) an animal or over-coddles them and makes them part of their emotional well-being, I think has issues. Usually these type of pet owners are the inconsiderate ones who let their dogs run off the leash without caring who is around (the laws are hardly enforced), letting them mow down toddlers in the park, and don’t pick up their dog’s poop if they can get away with it … selfish? narcisistic? who knows.

    If we have to talk “race” … since this is a diversity blog, I live in a neighborhood that is mostly Asian, White and Hispanic. As far as the dog-owners who who irritate me the most, if I HAVE to pidgeon-hole them by race, around here it would be mainly Whites who make a decent salary, mostly single, no kids and have very expensive dogs, of any breed.

  25. “As to the psychology, I think I do have a sense of what’s benind it: basically, it’s a sort-of narcissism that stems from seeking out ‘relationships’ in which one can project any image they want into a situation in which they also, not incidentally, have absolute and total control over.”

    Yeah, I agree – dogs are much better than women. LOL

    Dogs don’t bug you to watch lifetime movies, don’t care if you leave clothes laying around, don’t expect you to remember the names of every one of their useless friends and (most importantly) don’t talk to you incessantly about minor, irrelevant details when you’re barely awake.

    I could go on…

  26. Dogs don’t bug you to watch lifetime movies, don’t care if you leave clothes laying around, don’t expect you to remember the names of every one of their useless friends and (most importantly) don’t talk to you incessantly about minor, irrelevant details when you’re barely awake.

    Hey, are you calling my wife a dog?
    Why I oughtta….

    Just kidding. I’m a lucky.

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