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Monday, July 08, 2013

Red, White, or Blue, but not Black

Black cats are less frequently rescued from shelters and therefore much more likely to be euthanized than cats of other colors.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/24/cats-face-discrimination-fur-color-survey_n_2006937.html.  I don’t much care for cats, and yet, when I recently learned about this bias, my heart immediately went out to the disadvantaged felines.  Why?

Until we do a better job spaying and neutering, a certain number of cats will have to be put down.  Why should I care about the color of those unfortunate cats?  A cat is a cat is a cat, to me, although apparently not to those doing the adopting.

Racial discrimination among people is objectionable at least in part because of history and the harm it produces on living human beings.  Cats, I suspect, have no such history and no awareness that they’re being discriminated against.

I think the cat case suggests that people’s intrinsic sense of fairness is violated by any arbitrary and baseless discrimination.  We depend on order in the world to successfully navigate it.  Arbitrariness is per se offensive.  If a rule applies to cats, it should apply equally to all cats, absent a better reason than fur color.

Posted by Fredrick Vars on July 8, 2013 at 05:50 PM | Permalink


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Speaking for birds and small mammals worldwide, I feel that there are few cats of any color who should not be put down. Either that, or we need to spay the so-called "cat lovers."

Posted by: Jimbino | Jul 8, 2013 11:10:10 PM

Would anybody object on grounds of arbitrariness if a store decided to sell bubble gum with a blue wrapper but never with a red wrapper? Would anybody object on grounds of arbitrariness if I preferred to eat cookies that came in black boxes over the same cookies that came in pink boxes?

We live perfectly happily with all sorts of arbitrariness.

Perhaps the issue is that you really do care deeply about cats. As the one-time owner of a black cat, they grow on you. Especially when they bring all of your enemies bad luck.

Posted by: Marc DeGirolami | Jul 8, 2013 8:38:48 PM

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