Almost two years ago, after reading a news story about a marmalade cat called Bob who adopted a homeless drug-addicted busker, I wrote a blog post called The empathy of marmalade cats about the marmalade cat who lives near us and who befriended our old, blind and senile family dog during the last months of her life. Today I read a story in the Mirror newspaper of yet another marmalade cat, this one was called Barney, who lived in the grounds of St Sampson's Cemetery on Guernsey and who, over the last 20 years, befriended and gave comfort to those attending funerals or visiting graves there. That he was a much-loved presence in the cemetery grounds seems obvious from the story and the comments on social media, but it made me wonder once more about why marmalade cats seem to feature in these stories, and if there is something different about them, as against other cats.
A Telegraph article from 2 years ago, entitled Why a ginger tom might just inherit the Earth offered up the information that, "...recent research conducted by the University of California showed that ginger felines are the most popular among cat owners, because they are perceived as friendly and lovable." But surely the empathy and the connection with the suffering of other creatures must be more than just simple friendliness? The Feline Care website carries a story about a marmalade tom living on the streets of Attleborough - they do seem to like doing their own thing! - whilst Wavell, the marmalade cat mentioned in the Telegraph story appears to have an adventurous spirit and a love of travel. Cats are, of course, known for their curiosity, independence and, it has to be said, selfishness at times, which is why the empathy apparently shown by marmalade cats is so intriguing to me.
Leslie Darling, in her blog post Ginger Tabby Personality, comments that, "In some species, a link between color and personality has been established". She also says, "How much of this is perception and how much genetics is hard to determine, but certain breeds of cat do have personality traits that are linked to the breed." It would be interesting to see a large scale study of this aspect of cat genetics - perhaps it would attract someone doing research for a thesis or similar!
Meanwhile, the popularity of marmalade cats is undoubted, as those which feature in literature, cartoon strips and on the big and small screen demonstrate: http://www.gingercatpage.com/famous.htm - who doesn't love such characters as Orlando (The Marmalade Cat) or Garfield, the pizza loving fat cat pal of Odie and Jon!