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Black Cats Don’t Get Adopted, and Other Myths

Black cats are bad luck. 

Turn your back on a black cat and you’ll be cursed.

Witches can take the form of black cats.  (The Pilgrims considered black cats demonic and anyone caught with a black cat was punished, or killed.)

A black cat on the bed of an ill person will bring death.

Black cats are the least likely to be adopted at animal shelters.

Myth…myth…myth…myth…and MYTH.

Surely, there are personnel at animal shelters and rescues who insist that black cats, and dogs, are harder to get adopted than any other colors and patterns.  However, a study conducted in 2015 by Priceonomics, a San Francisco-based data content company, debunks this “myth.”  

Their study looked at 14 regions of the U.S. and 300,000 cats and dogs available for adoption.  Black cats comprised 31 percent of cat adoptions.  Actually, it was the black-and-white, or tuxedo, cats who were among the least adopted.

Reasons given for black cats not being adopted, in addition to being considered bad luck or evil, are that they’re a boring color and are less playful, less friendly, and harder to photograph as compared with cats of other colors or multiple colors.  

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), there are more black cats in the feline population than any other color because genes that cause the black color are the most dominant.  So, it’s a numbers game: more black cats in existence means more black cats in shelters.  Even with 31 percent being adopted that still would leave a higher population of black cats languishing in shelters waiting for their forever homes. 

Some interesting facts about black cats:

•  The Cat Fanciers’ Association recognizes 22 breeds that can have black coats.

•  All black fur is slightly more common in male cats than females.

•  Black cats have a recessive gene that suppresses the tabby pattern, believed to be the original color pattern of domesticated cats.

•  Black cats’ coats may be coal black or have a hint of brown, rust or gray, as well as a faint tabby pattern.

•  Their high melanin pigment causes most black cats to have yellow eyes.

•  Researchers at the National Institutes of Health discovered the genetic mutation that causes cats to have black coats protects them from certain diseases.

So, forget about the myths.  When you decide to adopt a feline, take a look at black cats, give them a chance to show you their personalities.

What’s more, think of the shedding factor.  If you have a penchant for wearing black or dark-colored clothes, a black-furred cat is for you!

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Writer’s note:  I have fostered many black kittens over the years, from feral Maine coon mixes to somebody’s unwanted litter of domestic short-hairs, and must say I find them to be as friendly, lovable and playful as other colors and patterns of kittens I’ve fostered. 

Editor’s note: This article was written by Jean Clement for Foster Army Animal Rescue‘s newsletter, “The Wet Nose News.”