Why Are Black Cats the Least Adopted Cat Color?

Why are many people wary of adopting a black cat compared to the other colors?

May 5, 2022

Despite being one of the most common cat colors, black cats are the least adopted cats. They stay in shelters longer and consequently are unfortunately also more likely to be put down by shelters.  The phenomenon of not wanting to adopt a black cat even has its own name: “black cat bias”

There’s a few different reasons for this prejudice against black cats.  One is that there are people who are superstitious and fear black cats are an omen of bad luck.  “There’s a few reasons [for black cat bias]: one because they’re associated with witchcraft and some people think they’re associated with Satan,” explains expert on the subject, sophomore Kris Deakins.  Black cats are known as a theme for Halloween and are often portrayed as the friends of witches, or even as shapeshifting witches themselves in movies.  The association of black cats with dark forces like the devil has sadly led to violence against them throughout history.

A 2019 study called Black Cat Bias: Prevalence and Predictors recorded that participants in the study, on average, rated black cats as less friendly when rating the traits of a variety of cats upon seeing a neutral picture of them.  But Deakins, who is a black cat owner, says ¨They’re not really that different from my other two cats,” when asked about the black cat owner experience.

There’s a few reasons [for black cat bias]: one because they’re associated with witchcraft and some people think they’re associated with Satan.

— Sophomore Kris Deakins

Deakins gives another reason for black cat bias:  ¨They may not just like the color of the cat. They may think that their black is dull.¨ A black cat’s dark facial features may cause people to be unsure of their emotional state. It has also been speculated that black animals are less photogenic than other colors and a concern over the pet looking good in photos can contribute to another color being chosen over black in the adoption process.  

But despite the negative news surrounding black cats’ fates, there are people and organizations working to bring better luck to black cats.  One of these groups is the Black Cat Holistic Rescue in Los Angeles, California.  The organization provides the felines with vet care, a foster home, and eventually a permanent family.  According to their website, their mission issaving black cats & kittens from high kill shelters and the streets of Los Angeles and surrounding areas.”  There are many passionate black-cat lovers out there working to make it so black fur isn’t a death sentence for any black cats.

Everyone can participate in appreciating and helping black cats, from celebrating National Black Cat Appreciation Day on August 17th, to shining a light on cultures that have recognized black cats as good luck.   Egyptians worshiped a goddess with the head of a black cat, Bastet who was the goddess of protection and good health,  while black cats have a history of being seen as a symbol of prosperity, good luck and guardians against evil in Japan.  

And of course, donating to a local black cat supportive charity or shelter or choosing to give a black cat a home through adoption can make a world of difference. As Tracey Lenac, the founder of Black Cat Holistic Rescue puts it in a Washington Post article: “When you adopt a black cat, you’re creating a change in the world.  You’re changing people’s attitudes by showing how lovable and beautiful black cats are.”


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