What percentage of cats are black?

What percentage of cats are black?

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The wiki.answers page is absurd. And Google.com places it very near the top at the date of this post. Wiki.answers is an appalling website. They say: if there are 75 black cats out of 3000 the percentage is this….well of course, that is straight math. But it does not in any shape or form answer the question.

Perhaps there is no point is trying to work out the percentage of black cats. However, I think there is some point in it.

The truth is we don’t know what percentage of cats are black. We know the percentage, very roughly, by observation ourselves. We don’t know accurately, however, because there has been no survey or genetic calculations as to probability.

Based on my observations black cats are fairly commonplace. They are not as commonplace as tabby cats, tabby and white cats or probably bicolor cats. I am thinking on a worldwide basis here not just the USA or Europe etc.

On a worldwide basis I would estimate that the percentage of black cats is somewhere around 18% (1 in 5.5) . I would be happy to be corrected however.

Update: this figure could be too low. Correction: I updated it to around 18% on the back of Dr Brashaw who says white cats are rare at around 3% of non-pedigree cat population and black cats are commonplace. Some people say that black cats are “very common”. I disagree. As I mentioned, tabbies are more common and bicolours are as common. I make this judgement having seen lots of photographs of cats across the internet.

Let’s remember that we are talking about domesticated random bred, stray, semi-feral and feral cats here. There are about half a billion of them on the planet. The proportion of purebred cats is miniscule in comparison and can be ignored in answering this question.

There is no doubt that the percentage of black cats at shelters is higher than for other cat coat types because they are the least popular cat colour. More of them must be euthanised than any other colour.

Michael Avatar

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36 thoughts on “What percentage of cats are black?”

  1. Photo of black Maine coon, from college friend. He’s no expert photographer, but said it was hard to get good pix. btw this cat is still a “kitten”. I don’t think he’d mind me posting it.

  2. Very minor point about pictures of black cats. And this really is a MINOR point. But, black cats may be underrepresented in internet pictures because (so I hear from two friends with black cats) it’s really tough to get good photos. Not b/c of behavior of cat, but b/c of lack of contrast in coat color. One of my flickr friends has 13 cats, and before flickr went down hill, he regularly posted pix of most of his cats. Excellent photographer btw. Every so often he’d post a pic of his black cat, usually saying approx. “okay I finally got a decent pic of Alfie. Black cats are hard to photograph effectively”.

    I’m guessing that as a pro photographer, Michael, you would agree.

  3. I agree Michael, the commodification of living beings is widespread and shows no sign of letting up. I despair.

    We discussed this before about breeders, that the only ethical ones breed for function first.

    Though with the huge number of cats desperately needing homes and being abandoned, I have my doubts about anyone breeding cats of any type, deliberately these days 🙁

    • the commodification of living beings

      A neat phrase. I like it. Sad though. The international trade in wild animals and body parts is greater than $10 billion per year despite a ban on most of it. No one cares or enforces treaties to do with animals.

      • I agree, it’s just beyond the scope of my mind to take the enormity of what we as a species have done to other species. That’s probably self protection on my part. I sometimes don’t even know why we have the Animal Welfare Act in the UK. The international treaties seem to mean less and less each year, with more and more parts of wild animals being seized.

        Sometimes you can’t even see the top of the mountain you are trying to climb 🙁

          • He’s right Michael. I may like a few people, but I have become a sort of benign misanthrope over the years. As for Dr Gareth Morgen in NZ, the kindest and most humane thing to give to him would be euthanasia and put him out of his misery as such a rabid cat hater.

            It’s odd isn’t it, that the species that does the most harm, that has curtailed it’s own evolution via its enormous brain is the least likely to become extinct.

      • Yes, I see your point. Still, I have no problem with those who have the mentality and strength in itegrity and high level of humanity/ethics to preserve what they know to be true? I won’t apologise for those that I see as benevolent and caring.

  4. People do have odd ideas about colour, black seems to be the default colour for prejudice. You find it amongst horse people too. It’s utterly ridiculous and to me, offensive.

    There’s a stupid craze for disrespecting humans who have ginger hair too, this was started by a moronic Radio 1 DJ several years ago.

    Black cats have a lot of negativity stupidly associated with them. So much prejudice against animals is borne out of religious beliefs.

    Black cats are particularly at risk around Halloween. Some rescues and shelters won’t adopt out black cats either side of this festival.

    I love cats of all colours, shapes, sizes, I don’t care how contventionally attractive they are. To me they are all beautiful. I have had a few black cats over the years and they were no exception, all beautiful to me

  5. I have no idea what percentage of cats are black but the black cats I’ve known personally Ebony, Popsy, Narla and Tyson, all females, have all been dear little souls, loving gentle and smart in their black clothes, I’ve never understood what people have against black and black and white cats, they’re beautiful each in their own way, those people need to look underneath the fur colour at the personalities of individual cats and stop grouping them by fur colour in just the same way as people need to disregard skin colour.

    • You look beyond the veneer and see more. I am afraid a lot of people are quite superficial in their behavior. It is a typical human trait and a major reason why we are in a mess.

  6. Little Lilly was one of many young black kittens/cats in the shelter – she had been there the longest so we took her for that simple reason. There were about 10 black cats and 1 white cat and one 2 coloured (white/black) cat. A very high percentage of black cats. When we were there we spent a long long time with the cats – they were all reaching out of their cages wanting to play with us and eachother, it was very sweet and sad – whoever said cats aren’t social is just plain wrong, people think that because cats have the capability to be independant that they want to be but I don’t agree and especially with the young ones. Whilst we were there a mother and daughter came in – daughter was young – and she immediately wanted the little 2 coloured cat. The black cats are much harder to see – to see thier faces and expressions and the little white and black cat you could see his little mostl white face really clearly and he did, I will admit, stand out above all the others because not only was he different but he was more ‘colourful’ and ‘seeable’ if you could say that. It was very easy for a kid to walk in or an adult and just say ‘I want that one’ and that’s it.

    Lilly is the most wonderful cat and I am sure Monty is too – I can’t say enough good things about black cats from mine and all the ones I have met. It’s harder to see their expressions, their faces, because they are so dark. Sometimes you can only see their eyes but they are beautiful and in entirely their own unique way.

    Lilly is the most playful and social cat who is not scared and very curious – she is very healthy and eats well and always manages difficult things with grace. She an ambassador cat – when another cat comes into the group she will be the first to cuddle and lick with that cat – she really falls in love with other cats too. She’s amazing she really is.

    I can’t say what the percentage is but I saw first hand why it is that kids or adults might go straight for the non black cats. It’s terribly sad with those little black cats reaching their little black paws through the cage to try and touch you when you walk past – it’s heart breaking actually. I know this shelter in Slovenia where we got Lilly well, and at other times you walk in there and it’s mostly tabby cats so I am guessing there were just alot of black ones in those days when we got Lilly. They were all young and wanted to play. Also in Switzerland and France the black cats are often at the shelter longer than most others. I followed one liitle black cat called Nora who had been there too long and I told the shelter as soon as I found a place to live I would take her if she hadn’t found a home. Luckily she found a home. What I notice in European shelters is that there are many people looking over those poor cats with troubles or left behind and somebody always takes care of them inthe end. They must do what I did and call and say they will help if nobody else will because I never see a cat stay too too long – somebody always comes through and people always sponsor cats so I think there are people who go and look on the internet everyday and check and make sure no cat is left behind. One shelter in particular in Mulhouse in France is huge and they have alot of cats, alot of black cats struggling to find homes but they don’t ever euthanise- they eventually foster if there’s a lack of room and as I said somebody steps up if nobody comes along after about 9 months at the most. Little Nora was ‘just another black cat amongst many’ as it said on her profile – I’m glad somebody took her in but I would have otherwise and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one looking out for her.

    Black cats are harder to ‘see’ – people often find them sometimes pretty and sometimes ugly – some people don’t like to see thier features too much and prefer the silhouette with just eyes – they think that is more pretty. My ex always though Lilly was ugly but I have always found her to be beautiful – all cats are.

    • Great Marc. Very much appreciated. I think what you saying is that black cats are under-appreciated. They are good cats that are probably healthier than other cats because the gene that produces black fur also protects against infection.

      I think the under-appreciation is a sign of superficial thinking from people. People need to look beyond the veneer and obvious but often do not.

      Lily sounds like a cracking good cat.


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