Are Black Cats Really Less Adoptable?

Oct 01, 2018

Are Black Cats Really Less Adoptable?

There used to be a stigma that black cats were bad luck. Then, for many years the animal welfare community has spread the message that black cats are "less adoptable" than other cats and more at risk of euthanasia than other colors. But is that really true? Recent research suggests, no!

Are they less desirable, or simply more common?
Part of this belief may come from the fact that there simply more black cats than any other color. The gene for black fur color is one of two dominant colors in cat genetics (the other one being red/orange.) So therefore, nearly all cats have some variation of black or red/orange on them. Data from an ASPCA study of 300,000 dogs and cats in 2013 actually showed that the adoption rate was the same for black animals vs. all other colors... there were just simply more black animals left afterwards, because there were more of them to begin with! 

This contributes to an overall perception that shelters are just full of "unwanted" black animals. The reality is that while there may be a lot of black ones, they aren't getting adopted less frequently than other colors. Here at VHS we've seen recently that more often than not, age & personality play much bigger roles in "adoptability" than color. A super-affectionate black kitten is very likely to get adopted faster than its less-social brown tabby littermate. Potential adopters are usually looking to make a connection instead of just picking out a "make and model." There are exceptions of course (such as with "fancy" kittens like Siamese or longhaired,) but generally speaking, just as many people consider adopting black cats as they do other colors. Some people even come in specifically asking for black!

Now, part of this mindset change may actually be a result of the belief that black cats are less adoptable. Some of those people asking for black cats may only be asking because they sympathize with the so-called "less-wanted" animals. That kind of data is difficult to track. We may never know if the hardcore promotion of black animals all those years is what actually helped improve their adoptability over time.

Limiting black cat adoptions around Halloween?
In olden times (and even today in some cases) shelters would halt all black cat adoptions surrounding Scamper - adoptable at the VHSHalloween. In 2014, a Chicago shelter told a reporter that they ban adoption of solid black and solid white cats just before & after Halloween to protect them from "weirdos out there." But the vast majority of progressive shelters today encourage black cat adoption all year, including around Halloween. No major evidence has ever been found about cats being subjected to blood sacrifices, religious rituals, or any other holiday-related cruelty simply because of their fur color. (And to be fair, the actual sacrifice of black cats is not National animal welfare organizations like HSUS, Best Friends Animal Society, and the Million Cat Challenge/Maddie's Fund have advocated for black cat adoption promotion around the spookiest time of the year.

The VHS is no exception. We have no record of ever hearing about our cats being tortured, sacrificed, mutilated, etc. at Halloween. (Since all our cats are microchipped upon leaving the building, Evansville Animal Care & Control would alert us to any cruelty cases involving our animals.) Unsavory people who may have ill intentions are not going to walk into a shelter, hand over their contact information and photo ID, pay an adoption fee, spend their valuable time with a cat or kitten, and sign a legal binding contract making them responsible for the cat's well being. Those procedures alone already act as deterrents for people who may wish harm on our shelter kitties.

Are there any other Halloween-related safety concerns for pets?
Even though it's unlikely that you'll see someone torturing a black cat around a bonfire, Halloween can still sometimes pose certain dangers for pets like any other holiday. Always be sure you're following these safety tips:

  • keep electrical cords & lights for decorations tucked away
  • Keep dangerous Halloween treats out of reach of your pets
  • Monitor pets around jack-o-lanterns with burning candles inside. Some might think pumpkins smell good enough to eat, and may bite down on a very hot & painful surprise!
  • Make sure your pets are microchipped and wearing a properly-fitted collar with up-to-date ID tags. (This includes indoor cats!!) While you answer your door repeatedly for trick-or-treaters, your pet could easily be spooked by so many strangers in scary costumes coming & going. It just takes a second for them to slip through your open door. Keeping them in an interior room away from the front door is always safest and never leave them in the yard unattended.

Apollo - adoptable at River Kitty Cat CafeSo if you're seeking a new companion this fall that you're sure to never lose in a snowstorm, and that will go with any outfit you're wearing... we always have plenty of black cats & kittens who need new homes. We do not change our adoption policies or procedures around Halloween. Browse available felines here or come visit Tuesday-Saturday 12-6!