We have all been indoctrinated into believing that black cats are overlooked at shelters. The reason given is superstition or because black cats are difficult to see at shelters. Also it is more difficult to photograph black cats successfully and therefore their images are less often clicked on the Petfinder website.
So we believe that black cats are unpopular and PETA confirms this on their website when they say that black cats are two thirds less likely to be adopted than white cats. Also black cats are only half as likely to be adopted as tabby cats. They just aren’t seen as appealing as white or tabby cats, say PETA.
However, according to the ASPCA, the prejudice against black cats (and dogs for that matter) is just a myth. It’s a misconception because, they argue, there are more black cats at shelters. They are the largest group of shelter cats by colour. Therefore, if black cats are adopted in equal numbers to other types of cat there are still more of them remaining at a shelter at the end of the day.
ASPCA’s data concerning about 300,000 animals from 2013 support their argument. They say that 33% of intake are black cats. Grey cats represent 22% of intake. Black cats accounted for 31% of feline adoptions while gray cats accounted for 20% of feline adoptions.
According to ASPCA the adoption rate of black cats is the strongest amongst the cat coat types at shelters but because of their higher numbers the euthanasia rates of black cats is the highest. PETA argue that the majority of the 71% of shelter cats euthanised are black.
We have, therefore, to very conflicting viewpoints on the matter of blackouts at shelters. It paints a confusing picture. Clearly we need the point to be clarified as soon as possible.
It doesn’t help that there is no scientific data telling us the percentage of black cats in the population of random bred and purebred cats. Anecdotally, I would argue that the percentage of black cat is no higher than that of tabby cats. It may in fact be even less than tabby cats. But we need scientific information rather than guesswork.
Photography of black cats
Incidentally, photographs of black cats at shelters should be taken with some skill and caution. It is essential that they are photographed properly, to enhance their features. This means they should be well lit and the cage should be out of frame if possible. The background should be plain and a toy should be incorporated. Black cats can make stunning photographs as they create a shape and contrast.