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My Cat is a Racist?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Okay, not really, but I noticed something this weekend.

Cosmo is a little shy with new people... but usually after they've been in the house for a little while he'll come out and he's fine. He's not the type of kitty to jump in a strangers lap, but he'll come out and act like himself (lounging in the same room with us, playing with his toys, etc.)

This weekend we had a long-time friend come over. He brought his partner (we'll call him D) who happens to be a very tall black man (my friend is white, I'm white, my husband is hispanic). Well Cosmo did not seem to take to kindly to D, my friend's boyfriend.

At first Cosmo ran. Then he slinked around corners walking low to the ground. And even after hours had passed, Cosmo didn't seem to want to be near D. When he was in the room with us he was jumpy, keeping his eye on D the entire time. We chalked it up to Cosmo smelling D's dog, but my friend also would have dog-smell on him, so that really couldn't be it (and Cosmo seemed fine with my friend, who he had not met before). There was nothing out of the ordinary about D -- he wasn't particularly loud or heavy-footed. He didn't seem uncomfortable or nervous. He likes animals. Only thing that made him different from anyone else Cosmo lives with or has met thus far is his race and height.

Is Cosmo a racist? I know he's not homophobic because obviously my friend is gay too -- Okay, I said that in jest -- BUT, is it possible that Cosmo maybe was abused by a black man, or had a bad experience with a black man (remember, we rescued him from the shelter and know nothing of his past)? I've heard of cats being uncomfortable with a specific gender for historic reasons, but is it possible for them to be uncomfortable with a specific race of human?... Do cats even recognize skin colors the way humans do?

OR, could it just be a personal thing... like for whatever reason Cosmo didn't like D, just like there are people in this world I meet that I don't like?

Thoughts?
post #2 of 20
I have no idea what Cosmo's behavior means, but did you ever see that episode of Family Guy where Lady Bird attacked the repairman? Word got around that Lady Bird was racist and everyone assumed that Hank had a hidden prejudice against people of color because the only way a dog could be racist would be because they pick up on unconcious negative feelings from their owner. By the end of the show it was found that Hank just really hated having repairmen come into his home to fix "his" house. It didn't matter what color the repairman was. It was a pretty funny episode!
post #3 of 20
Was "D" very loud, and laughed alot? Did he make a move to pet cosmo right away? My mom's friend has had DOGS that seemed to be "racist" she would bring them in her liquor store with her to greet the customers, a very good way of getting people to come back, but the two dogs she had both developed a sort of "racism" Now, we dont have alot of black people in my town, mostly just hispanic/asians for minorities. However, there is a black man named Tony that comes tot he store alot. I witnessed how he acted with the dogs. He wears alot of cologne, he is tall, he speaks loudly, talks loudly, laughs alot, and basically scared the crap out of her dogs. Both of them. It got so where one of her dogs tried to bite a hispanic man, though it didnt bother a white person. Your cat could just be responding to the fact that this person is larger than everyone else, and sounds different. Animals pick up any tension that may be in the room also. Did he have big boots? Sometimes things like that bother animals. I really dont think that animals are afraid of people by the color of their skin, but by how they act ^_^ If you look at it, a "white" person may act and talk and sound totally different from a "black" person, which might be what is freaking your cat out so much. To put it kind of in simple terms, if your cat had a squeeky toy he played with and loved (representing you) and every once in a while he would get new toys for a while, they would smell different, but they woul dhave the same kind of squeek, so he would associate it with his first toy. But then one day a toy shows up that is much larger than his other toys, and makes a very VERY odd sound when squished. Much different from the squeeks your cat is used to. He would freak out.. would he not? I hope I didnt confuse you too much with this! Maybe it helped a bit
post #4 of 20
I don't know if he is or not. I have a friend who's dog does not like black people. She said she has always been that way. Maybe he was just loud and spooked the cat.
post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by esrgirl
I have no idea what Cosmo's behavior means, but did you ever see that episode of Family Guy where Lady Bird attacked the repairman? Word got around that Lady Bird was racist and everyone assumed that Hank had a hidden prejudice against people of color because the only way a dog could be racist would be because they pick up on unconcious negative feelings from their owner. By the end of the show it was found that Hank just really hated having repairmen come into his home to fix "his" house. It didn't matter what color the repairman was. It was a pretty funny episode!
I think you are talking about King of the Hill.
As for Cosmo, he is just a little more apprehensive. I really doubt cats are as prejudice about the color of a human's skin as much as we are.
post #6 of 20
I think it's most likely that your friend's partner reminded Cosmo of someone he didn't like in the past. It might have been the color of his skin, but it could also have been his height, the way he moved, the way he smelled--any number of factors. The past person might not have even abused Cosmo--Cosmo may have just perceived his presence to be a threat, again for any number of factors.

The other thing is, especially since D is tall, Cosmo may have perceived him to be a threat to the "order of things" in your household. Assuming that Cosmo sees your husband as alpha (or you, it doesn't matter), perhaps Cosmo felt that D (because of his striking appearance) was threatening to your husband/whoever he sees as alpha.

I have a half-brother who's a lot older than me, but has always been around a lot. When we got my dog, a poodle named Tasha, my dad was her favorite person (our family was made up of two males and three females, plus Tasha). My brother was a different story. Tasha was terribly frightened of him. If she walked into a room where he happened to be, she would look at him, crouch in fear, and slink as quickly as possible into the next room. My brother was, arguably, the most dog-oriented person in the family, and he was extremely patient with Tasha. He would lie on the floor (to be below her level, and thus not a threat) and feed her treats. She got to the point where she was ok with him, but palpably wary.
Five years later, my parents separated and my dad moved out. Guess what? Within a few months, my brother was Tasha's favorite person. Of course, dogs are more pack-oriented than cats, but I think the "threat to alpha" theory still applies.
post #7 of 20
I wouldn't say racist, but then this is a human word.

I know that many dogs exhibit these qualities.
Its because the man was different. Its not racist to obviously see someone as different than you.
This man was something alien to Cosmo. My dogs having never been socialized (the same as cats are socialized when young to new things) to black people would go ballistic when a black girlfriend dropped by or a black person walked by.
They had simply no reference point for black people and so treated them as a strange threat.

I also had a dog that didn't like people in hats.
He wasn't a "hattist" . He had simply not seen people in hats before.
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
Loveysmum: LOL the "hattest" comment made me laugh! I was also thinking maybe Cosmo is just a "tall-ist" since D was so darn tall compared to the rest of us...

...Which makes me think your "threat to alpha" theory Dancemuse, could definitely have some merit. Cosmo sees me as "alpha cat" in the house - my husband is only ever so slightly taller than me, and obviously, my daughter is shorter. Just about all of our friends and family are around the same height or shorter - D is the first one to come by that is clearly much taller.

Like I said in my first post, D wasn't particularly loud or threatening. He was wearing sneakers and wasn't heavy-footed (he sat most of the time anyway). He didn't seem to be wearing any cologne, or at least that I could tell. The only aroma Cosmo might have sense was the smell of D's dog - but then my friend and D live together so he would have had the dog-smell too. I really have to think it either has to do with D's height or dark skin color, since those are the only two thing that were strikenly and apparently different than anyone else Cosmo has come in contact with since joining our family.

If it's true that it's just a "different" thing (since maybe he's had no frame of reference to black people or tall people before now) well, I'm sure D will come and hang out with us again, so I suppose Cosmo, with time, will learn it's okay. He' really a guy who likes animals very much (he loves his dog sooooo much) and he's a very nice man, so hopefully Cosmo will find him less threatening as time goes on.
post #9 of 20
The "loud" comment may have hit home as it seems to me that many black people are loud and boisterous (at least here.) OTOH one of the quietest people I haver ever known was a black girl I worked with for a while I kept having to say "Pat! Speak up!"

You wanna know racist? I had a horse who was a racist. She wouldn't have anything to do with other horses unless they were Arabs. Really. It was the strangest thing. She didn't want to be friends with another horse unless they were an Arabian! She finally made friends with this gelding and I commented to the horse's owner that she must be expanding her horizons. "Oh, Trey? He's a 3/4 Arab!" So much for that theory!
post #10 of 20
My cat is definetly not racist. He is scared of everyone who comes trough the door. Women, men, children-doesn't matter. Cat hides under the bed and won't come out.
post #11 of 20
I used to have a red doberman who was racist. I ask my old vet about it and she told me that because certain ethnicities tend to eat certain kinds of foods, they may smell different to the dog which in turn freaks them out. I wonder if it is the same with cats.
post #12 of 20
haha! Elliot is a "Hattist" also :P he will run away from anyone wearing a hat, and will attack men wearing hats if they come near him.
post #13 of 20
I had a dog once that, besides my s/o, only liked blond men. He was ok with blond women and children. He would bark and growl at men with other hair colors. He would see a blond guy, and go into leg humping mode. It was soooo embarrassing!
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RoseHawke
The "loud" comment may have hit home as it seems to me that many black people are loud and boisterous
Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but I said twice, in my first post and subsequent reply that D was NOT particularly loud or threatening.
post #15 of 20
Who knows why cats get spooked sometimes. I had an A/C repairman here today, and he was an average-sized, quiet-spoken fellow. He didn't even come all the way into the house, just went into the basement once, and spent the rest of the time outside. All three cats were totally spooked. Even Tommy, who usually is very friendly toward strangers. I was shocked. Several weeks ago I had a fellow in to measure for new carpet. He was a large guy, chatty, joking and loud. By the end of his visit, all three cats were coming up to him for scratchies. Even Mellie and Rocket who are normally very shy. I can't figure it out. I just go with the flow.

A racist cat? Silly idea!!
post #16 of 20
King of the Hill, not Family Guy- opps. It was a funny episode
post #17 of 20
if the cat is always used to around white people, and all of a sudden he is near a black person, peculiar behaviours wouldn't surprise me
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by esrgirl
I have no idea what Cosmo's behavior means, but did you ever see that episode of Family Guy where Lady Bird attacked the repairman? Word got around that Lady Bird was racist and everyone assumed that Hank had a hidden prejudice against people of color because the only way a dog could be racist would be because they pick up on unconcious negative feelings from their owner. By the end of the show it was found that Hank just really hated having repairmen come into his home to fix "his" house. It didn't matter what color the repairman was. It was a pretty funny episode!

*GASP* I wont show this thread to Steve..Its king of the Hill lady Bird is Hanks dog..lol Steve LOVES that show.
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by RoseHawke
The "loud" comment may have hit home as it seems to me that many black people are loud and boisterous (at least here.) OTOH one of the quietest people I haver ever known was a black girl I worked with for a while I kept having to say "Pat! Speak up!"

You wanna know racist? I had a horse who was a racist. She wouldn't have anything to do with other horses unless they were Arabs. Really. It was the strangest thing. She didn't want to be friends with another horse unless they were an Arabian! She finally made friends with this gelding and I commented to the horse's owner that she must be expanding her horizons. "Oh, Trey? He's a 3/4 Arab!" So much for that theory!

Na thats not being racist thats being Eliteist since arabians are so Elite..hehe sorry sorry I am partial...Vixen used to be like that too! But..she has had two NON arabian friends....who were her best buds...a QH named Sean who was 16.2..and she a little 13.3 that was cute, lol

And..her newest best friend....Shi, a Paint
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigOrangeMenace
haha! Elliot is a "Hattist" also :P he will run away from anyone wearing a hat, and will attack men wearing hats if they come near him.
Erik is and "umbrellaist", he growls at the "umbrella people" who appear from time to time throughout the year walking down the street... (he's mad)
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