Deaf White Cats

White cats with blue eyes are usually deaf.

Pure white cats only make up about 5% of the overall cat population. Of these white cats however, 72% are deaf. In cat genetics, the gene that gives a pure white cat its white fur is also linked to the development of its ears and eyes. This is especially true of white cats with blue eyes.

More frequently than any other eye color, 65-85% of blue eyed white cats are deaf. Blue eyes and deafness are closely related in white cats, a trait observed by Charles Darwin in his 1868 book The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication. Even more interesting, in heterochromatic white cats (cats with two different eye colors) when one eye is blue the ear on that side of the head will most likely be deaf. The non-blue eye’s side of the head will have normal hearing.

This is only true of pure white cats, those with entirely white fur. Cat’s that are mostly white but have colored markings, pointed patterns, etc. don’t count as being pure white cats and there is no connection between their eye color and their hearing. Siamese cats for instance are mostly white but they aren’t pure white cats and so there is no genetic relationship between their blue eyes and their hearing.

Added info: Interesting side fact, the pigmentation in the coat of Siamese cat is heat sensitive and changes color based on the temperature. The colder parts of their bodies (their extremities: feet, ears, nose, tail) are usually darker while the warmer parts of their bodies are lighter. If you send a Siamese cat outside in the cold winter months they will get darker, and upon returning to a warm house they will get lighter.

Also, in the 1970 Disney film The Aristocats the mother cat Duchess and her kitten daughter Marie beat the odds and are both white cats, with blue eyes, but normal hearing.

In The Aristocats both Duchess and her daughter Marie beat the odds by being white cats, with blue eyes, but normal hearing.

White Hats & Black Hats

The heroes and villains in westerns had reliable looks

In old black & white westerns of the 1920s-40s, the heroes and the outlaws generally followed pretty standard looks. Our heroes would be in white hats, our villains in black hats. This is largely because of (geographically) western culture’s semiotic associations that the color white represents good while the color black represents evil. Also, white & black standout more in the colorless mediums of early movies and tv. The show Westworld carries this forward when visitors to the park choose which color hat they want, which informs their experience in the park of being a good guy or bad guy. This distinction of white hat or black hat has become a metaphor more broadly for good guy or bad guy. In the hacking community white hat hackers hack ethically in order to find security flaws and work with companies to improve their defenses, while black hats villainously hack to steal information.

Beyond just how they look, some westerns also had the heroes and villains move in certain directions during pivotal scenes. Because most people are right handed, heroes would walk from left to right across the screen with their gun hand visible to the viewer, keeping their intentions known at all times. Villains would approach from right to left, with their gun hand hidden from the viewer, as if hiding their intentions from the audience.

Outside the western

Our association of black hats and villains extends beyond tv & movies. A study of 25 seasons of NHL hockey found that players wearing black are penalized more frequently than players in lighter colors. Whether the players in black really are more villainous and commit more penalties or just that the referees are biased by black clothes and think the players to be more villainous and probably deserving of more penalty time, is unclear.

One notable exception with our connotations to the color black is of course is the Man In Black, Johnny Cash, who sang that he wore black as a visible symbol of his solidarity with the marginalized people who our society has ignored & abandoned.