Do Black Cats Like to Lie on Black Things?

Should anything dark find itself on the floor or table, inevitably my black cat will starting lying on it. My gray tabby and my orange tabby don’t do this. Just my black cat.

Black shoes on the floor? My black cat can be found lying on them. Black photo bag on the table? My black cat will prop her front body on top of it. Bags, sweaters, soft materials, hard objects, it doesn’t matter. If it’s dark colored, by black cat will find someway to lie on it.

Why do black cats lie on dark objects?

So why does she do it. Who knows. There isn’t any research about why some cats seems to seek out black items or any other dark objects to lie on.

A black cat sitting with her front paws on a black camera bag.
A black cat sitting with her front paws on a black camera bag. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Since we can’t peer into the mind of black cats, we have to guess the reasons why some cats seem to seek out black things to lie on.

Camouflage

Black cats may be drawn to lying on black clothing because the color of the clothing blends in with their fur, making them feel more concealed and safe.

A black cat sitting on a dark grey sweater on a black leather sofa.
One hypothesis is that black cats sit on dark items in order to blend in. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Cats have a natural instinct to hide and blend into their environment, which is why they often seek out spaces and surfaces that match their fur color.

If it fits, I sits

Cats will often seek out small, enclosed spaces, such as boxes or bags, as a form of protection and security. Research has shown that sitting inside tight spaces can reduce stress and anxiety in cats.

That natural instinct that drives cats to see out small spaces even extends to fake ones. One study asked participants to place illusionary boxes in the form of outlines on the floor to see how their cats would respond.

While small, the study found that cats in the study were inclined to sit inside the 2D illusionary squares just like they would do when coming across a 3D object.

A black cat sitting on top of a black luggage.
The contrast of the black object with the floor is like a tight space which is attractive to cats. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

The same instincts to sit inside small spaces may be what drives some cats to sit on dark objects. Humans tend to have lighter colored floors and tables.

So when a dark or black object is place on to these floors or tables, there is a strong contrast, much line the 2D outlines in the study. This encourages the cat to seek out the dark object and to lie down on it, much like they would with a box or even a taped outline on the floor.

Black cat sitting inside a black bag on a light wooden floor.
Cats may feel safe sitting on top of a dark colored object that contrasts with the surrounding space. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Smells like you

Your cat may simply be sitting on the dark item because it has your smell. Cats form bonds with their owners and want to be near you. Cats may sit on dark objects, not because of the color, but because the object smells like you.

A black cat lying on black tennis shoes with white stripes.
Sometimes cats are drawn to black objects because they smell like you. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

References

Smith, G. E., Chouinard, P. A., & Byosiere, S. E. (2021). If I fits I sits: A citizen science investigation into illusory contour susceptibility in domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus). Applied Animal Behaviour Science240, 105338. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2021.105338

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