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The Truth About Black Cats

There is no cat as misunderstood as the inky-furred feline, the black cat.

Whether it’s Black Cat Appreciation Day (August 17th), National Black Cat Day (October 27th), Black Cat Friday (November), or even Black Cat Appreciation Month (October), these lovely dark beauties deserve the spotlight any time of year.

However, black cats tend to get a bad rap for a variety of erroneous reasons. And, while there are some hurdles black cats must traverse in order to reach their happily ever after with an adoptive family, many of the myths surrounding them are simply false.

But we’re spreading the truth, so get ready to forget everything you knew about black cats.

The Mythology of the Black Cat

What is the mysterious stigma that surrounds black cats? Even in 2020, as silly as it sounds, black cats are still associated with superstitions, black magic, and pagan holidays.

Folklore varies from culture to culture.

In Medieval Europe, it was believed that black cats were witch familiars or shape-shifting witches in animal form. In 16th-century Italy, it was believed that death was imminent if a black cat would lay on someone's sickbed. In Germany, it’s believed that if a cat crosses your path from right to left, it’s considered back luck. And, in most Western cultures, black cats have typically been looked upon as a symbol of evil omens.

On the other hand, if you live in the United Kingdom or Japan, a black cat crossing your path means that good fortune is on its way. In China, the older, uglier, and blacker a cat is, the luckier it is for those who have it. People of Scotland consider the black cat showing up at their door as a sign of wealth and prosperity. And Latvian farmers who find black kitties near their grain bins look forward to an abundant harvest.

The great Groucho Marx once said,

“A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.”

Plain and simple. No hidden meaning beyond that. And we tend to agree.

The Truth About Black Cats

Unfortunately, the obvious truth isn’t always the most favored belief. Despite their beautiful coats and intelligent, loving personalities, black cats are often given a bad rap.

There is a common myth that black cats are the least likely to get adopted in animal shelters and rescue facilities across the U.S. And if you ask most people involved in animal rescue, they’ll confirm that black cats are less likely to be adopted than pets of other colors.

The data, however, seems to allude to a wealth of conflicting opinions and statistics.

According to Dr. Emily Weiss, ASPCA Vice President, black cats are admitted to animal shelters and rescue facilities more than any other color. But they’re also adopted more. Using the Comprehensive Animal Risk Database (CARDS), which pulls numbers from 14 communities that work with nearly 300,000 dogs and cats, Dr. Weiss discovered black cats and dogs make up the majority of incoming animals, roughly 30 percent.

The data proves that more black cats are entering shelters and rescue facilities than other colors, and an equally large number of them are being adopted. But the end result is that while more are adopted, more are also euthanized in the long run. So, while black animal adoption rates were not much lower than other colored animals, because of the higher rate of frequency of black animals being admitted to facilities, there are simply more black pets than other colored pets in facilities, causing a higher rate of euthanasia.

Why You Should Adopt Black Cat

All Cats are Basically One of Two Colors, Regardless

Fun fact. Genetically, cats are born with only two colors—black and/or red. All other coat types are variations of the two, even white cats. Other factors like dilutions, masking, or other genes change the appearance of a cat’s fur patterns and coloration. So, genetically, cats are either red, black, or a combination of the two. Therefore, adopting a black cat isn’t that far out of a concept, considering over half of all cats have black coloring in some form or another.

They Might Live Longer

Some scientists have theorized that black cats could be more resistant to disease than other felines. According to researchers at the National Institute of Health, the genetic mutation that causes a cat’s fur to be black also protects them from certain diseases. Scientists are also using this to help study human diseases. Because cats experience many of the same health issues humans do—cancer and Alzheimer’s to name a few—experts believe studying cats could possibly help mankind combat these illnesses.

They’re Always Dressed for Any Occasion

Black cats are beautiful creatures. Moreover, they come complete with their very own festive (fur) costume. Any photographer or home decorator will tell you that black goes with anything. And black cats are born ready for all the fun essentially any season has to offer. In fact, they’re practically celebrities when it comes to a certain fall holiday.

You’ll Have No Trouble Acquiring Your New Family Member

If you’re looking to add a new kitty to the family, black cats are easy to find. In fact, black cats take up to one-third of the shelter and rescue space in the US. As such, there’s a chance you’ve got a furry companion just waiting to meet you right now! Moreover, many facilities have discounts when adopting a black pet, which is even more incentive to adopt one in need.

Black Cats Deserve a Chance, Too

This might be the most important reason of all to adopt a black cat—you can help save a life. While it is a myth that black pets are less likely to be adopted than lighter-colored animals, it is true that there are plenty of black cats in need of homes, and that they have a higher likelihood of being euthanized than animals of other colors.

Shelter cats, no matter the color of their fur, need forever families to love and cherish them. At the end of the day, the best reason to adopt a black cat is that they are just like every other cat.

Some are sweet, some are sassy. Some are lap cats, some are not. Each will have its own unique personality and temperament. Just like every other cat, black cats just want to be loved and cared for. They deserve a chance at a happy life, just like every other animal in need.

We have a number of black cats at BCARL right now—big, small, young, and old alike. Do you think you have it in your heart to help one of these cats in need? Check them out on PetFinder, fill out our adoption form, and come meet them. Who knows. Your new cuddle bug might be waiting for you at BCARL this very moment.

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