Black cats get a bad rap. Even if you’re not crazy superstitious, you’ve probably heard that black cats are considered bad luck. It’s cultural trope – logically, people should know that cats can’t bring bad luck, but it sticks around because it’s part of the fabric of our worldview.
Superstition is often cited as the reason that black cats are less likely to be adopted than other cats, as well as the theory that black cats are harder to see in the back of dark cages and photographs posted online.
But are black cats really less likely to be adopted? The truth behind this common assertion is a little more complicated. Dr. Emily Weiss of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals looked into data from fourteen communities and found that, actually, black cats are adopted just as much as their more colorful counterparts. Part of that is a numbers game – shelters took in more black cats than any other color.
That doesn’t mean everything's rosey for black cats, however. More cats come in than are adopted, and overpopulation leads to many animals being euthanized. And because black cats represent a large part of the shelter population, they get euthanized at higher rates than other cats.
How can we solve this problem? Many shelters spend a lot of energy around Halloween trying to tell you how beautiful black cats are and how they actually are not witches in disguise, which is an awesome message to get out there. But more importantly is the message that people who fall in love with black cats should go to shelters and adopt their new friend instead of going into a pet store.
It’s also common knowledge that some shelters don't let people adopt black cats around Halloween, for fear that they’ll be used as props and then abandoned. However, many shelters use all of this media focus on black cats to try to encourage as many people as possible to come adopt. A lot of shelters have pretty intense adoption processes in order to make sure that the homes these cats are going to are safe, and they feel pretty confident that all of their black cats are going to their forever homes no matter what time of year it is.
So, moral of the story: adopt, don’t shop. And when you go, look for the black cat.
Looking for a great local shelter? You can search for animal shelters in your area at AdoptAPet.com.