Thursday, July 31, 2014

Culture Watch: Are selfie-maniacs propelling a sharp rise in homelessness among black cats?


"Many pet owners apparently complained when dropping the cats off at the shelter that they didn't show up well in pictures, and prospective owners at the shelter requested to meet cats that were any color other than black."

by Ken

Another fine and alarming Culture Watch catch from Claire Hannum at The Frisky, who previously turned us on to those creepy cat-shaped marshmallows and the possibly creepier still toasters that produce toast-selfies. Now it's an apparent trend in the U.K. concerning what constitutes an adoptable pet.

It appears that black cats are increasingly going homeless -- not, as you might imagine, because of their long-bruited role as bringers of bad luck, but because they don't photograph well. That's right, the little darlings are deemed insufficiently photogenic to suit their potential owners' photographic fancy. At today's cat boutiques, it appears that the leading question is, "Do you have something in an orange or maybe white?"

Here's Claire's report:

RIP Society: Black Cats Are Being Abandoned Because They Don't Show Up in Selfies

Posted by Claire Hannum

According to the RSPCA, a British animal charity, abandoning animals that aren’t photogenic has become “a national problem” in the U.K. Of the 1,000 cats currently living in RSPCA shelter, 70 percent are black. Between 2007 and 2013, there was a 65 percent increase in the number of black cats taken in at the Blue Cro ss animal charity. “Black animals tend not to photograph as well as other cats with more distinctive markings,” they told The Telegraph. [Emphasis added. -- Ed.] Sadly, it seems that a pet’s ability to take a good selfie is worth a lot more to some people these days than how much love they can give. Many pet owners apparently complained when dropping the cats off at the shelter that they didn’t show up well in pictures, and prospective owners at the shelter requested to meet cats that were any color other than black. Meanwhile, orange and white cats, who show up better on camera, are being adopted left and right. This also makes it tough for the RSPCA to advertise the black cats in photos on their website. Even though these kitties were once thought of as bad luck, many Britons believe they bring the opposite, but their lack of photo cred seems to leave them in the dust. Come on, animal lovers, we’re better than this! [CosmopolitanTelegraph UK]
The linked Daily Telegraph report by Edward Malnick, "Misfortune of black cats rejected in age of 'selfie,'" is worth a closer look. Edward quotes an RSPCA spokesperson who sees "a number of reasons" for the cold shoulder black cats are getting, "ranging from the fact that black cats are harder to tell apart than cats with more distinctive markings and the fact that black animals tend not to photograph as well." And he got this response from Ronnie McMillen, 71, founder of the Millwood Cat Rescue Center in Edwalton, Notts:
We have had a lot of black cats in this year -- people don’t like black at the moment. Others look at the black cats and then just say "Oh, have you got anything else?" Ginger male cats are the most popular, but I think the black cats are beautiful and photograph fine.
Hayley Plows of the northeast London RSPCA branch noted that on the same day they had posted photos of a single eight-week-old tabby kitten and of a bunch of black kittens. They got "around 30 calls in two days from people keen to adopt" the tabby, and "maybe one call in relation to the black kittens."

Some perspective is offered by 20-year-old Gabriella Fletcher, of Stourbridge, West Mids, who told Edward "she regularly posed for selfies" with Susie, her 16-year-old black cat. Gabriella sayas she likes to post those photos on Facebook but acknowledges that "it is hard to get a good picture as you can't really see how beautiful Susie is." She adds, though, that --
it's sad that people feel the need to overlook them just because they are black. They are just as special as any other cat.
Which I think brings us back to Claire Hannum's report, where it's possible to admire the final exhortation -- "Come on, animal lovers, we're better than this!" -- without necessarily agreeing. Isn't the evidence suggesting that maybe so-called animal lovers really aren't better than this?

And this in turn brings us back to a basic conundrum of pet ownership: namely, pet owners. When you have one rejecting an animal because he or she doesn't photograph well, don't you have someone who really shouldn't be owning a pet to begin with?

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At 7:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This makes me sick. Fuck these people. I hope their fucking faces fall off. Right now I'm waiting to see if my beloved black cat of 14 years has treatable irritable bowel disease or something far worse, lymphoma. After months of seeing him waste away and taking him repeatedly for blood tests to a damned vet who couldn't diagnose a rainy day, I went for another opinion.

I would do anything to see my sweet Harry back to his robust self. Every black cat I've ever met has been sweet and mild-mannered and Harry is no exception. He's a lover, not a fighter.

The schmucks who are discarding cats because they're not showing up well in these fucking selfies? I'd like to shove the fucking phone down these fuckers' throats and take a picture of them turning purple. They shouldn't have animals at all. I'm sure there's no room in their lives for pets since all the air and room is taken up by their egos.

At 11:06 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

If people are doing this, it's rather idiotic and egotistical. Because honestly, how many "selfies" look good anyway? And if one is spending great amounts of time trying to make their selfie look like a magazine glossy, one has way too much time on zir hands.


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