Black Cats and the Many Myths that Surround Them, Including Adoption

National Black Cat Day falls on October 27th. Every year around Halloween, rumors start to swirl, dredging up myths that black cats are bad luck and harbingers of dark things to come. One of the most common myths is that black cats are evil and difficult to find homes for. They opine that these felines are at risk of being “irresponsibly adopted” and that once the spooky season is over, they’ll be right back to where they came from: shelters and rescues.

black cat
Photo: Pixabay/Virvoreanu-Laurentiu

The Curse of the Black Cat

Vice president of shelter services at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Christa Chadwick, disputes this myth. In a recent article in USA Today, she noted that these cats aren’t any less likely to be adopted. The issue is really that there are just far more of them than cats of other colors. That’s because the black coloration gene is more dominant in pets in general, and it boils down to nothing more than that. She added there’s zero evidence to support the idea that they’re at higher risk around Halloween than at any other time of year.

“Black cats are not in peril on Halloween or any other day of the year,” Chadwick confirmed. “While black cats get wrapped up in outdated myths, the truth is that they’re just as sweet and lovable as the next feline.”

black cat
Photo: Pixabay/freestocks-photos

Black Cats as Pets

In the United States, black cats have gained the reputation of being bad omens. They’re even said to be mean or not as friendly as other felines, Jennifer Stott acknowledged. She’s the executive director and co-founder of the Black Cat Rescue in Somerville, Massachusetts, where she has worked with these often maligned creatures for 15 years. She also noted that black cats are considered “the underdogs of the cat world” because they are frequently overlooked. Some people think black cats aren’t as pretty as other colored cats.

Halloween cat
Photo: Pixabay/Bessi

History of Black-Coated Animals

In countries such as Japan and Scotland, black cats are considered to bring good luck, according to So, it can be a cultural thing more than anything else. In Scotland and other parts of Great Britain, fearful folklore surrounded the Shuck or Moddey Dhoo, a demonic black dog that terrorized people back when the average person was still fearful of natural phenomena like eclipses. It just goes to show that black fur has long had a bad rap, and it’s not limited to cats. “For me, black cats have always sort of represented something a little magical in a positive way,” Stott added.

black cat
Photo: Pixabay/Pexels

Black Cat Opinion Polls

Over the years, black cats have been the subject of numerous research studies, including one recently conducted by ACANA Pet Food and OnePoll, a marketing research company. It discovered that among approximately 2,000 cat owners in the U.S., 41 percent believe black cats bring good luck, 21 percent feel the opposite is true, 30 percent believe they have no impact on luck either way, and 8 percent aren’t sure about the subject, period. So, at this point, it seems black cats are gaining a better reputation, and superstitions are no longer winning out.

Halloween cat
Photo: Pixabay/RebaSpike

Black Cat Adoption Myth Busters

An associate professor of sociology at the University of Louisville, Robert Carini, headed a peer-reviewed study published in 2020 concerning cat coloring. While the bottom line was that Halloween has no impact on black cat adoptions, cats with black coats did have some of the worst outcomes when it came to adoptions, transfers, and euthanasia, with the caveat that the differences in numbers weren’t large. “They didn’t have a much higher chance,” Carini noted, but “it still is a statistically detectable, higher proportion of them ultimately being euthanized rather than adopted or transferred, which includes fostering.” Because black fur is more dominant that other coat colors, as mentioned above, one has to wonder if that plays a role in the outcome. What do you think?

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