I would have thought that almost anybody could tell you why black cats are unpopular. The colour is too dull, too plain. It is not exciting enough. It is not interesting enough. The color is out of step with modern life. Women like brighter colors and women are the leading cat adopters. Then there is the historical connection with witches; the superstition surrounding black cats. That doesn’t help either.
As a consequence, there are a lot of black cats in rescue centres. For example, in the UK, the RSPCA reveals that 70% of more than 1000 cats in their care are black or black and white. They call it the “Black Cat Syndrome”.
Anyone involved with cat rescue knows about this syndrome. Another point worth making is that black cats are quite commonplace within the general pool of random bred cats. Therefore, relative to grey cats which are popular, there are far more black cats and therefore being less rare probably makes them less popular.
The RSPCA made the point that black cats don’t photograph very well or they are difficult the photograph. This makes it more difficult for people to present themselves on social media websites with their cat in selfies.
“The problem with black cats is that they are a bit too plain compared to the many other interesting colours available.”-Steve Crow, Chairman of the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy.
At Battersea Dogs and Cats Home black cats spend on average 34 days at the shelter compared to 25 days for other cats.
Further, around 20% of people visiting Battersea in order to adopt a cat say that they don’t want to adopt a black cat even before they start looking.
They are ignoring the potential chemistry between cat and human and focusing on appearance. They are missing out on a large pool of cats which could provide them with great companionship.
Lindsey Quinlan, head of Battersea’s cattery, says that black kittens are the least desirable. She says that you can’t give them away. She makes the point that the most sought after cat colour at Battersea is grey. The next most popular is tabby or ginger.
Another reason why people don’t want to adopt a black cat is because they will look like their neighbour’s cat. They want to stand out, be different. Once again this is a focus on appearance and status.
One potential adopter said that she was worried about adopting a black cat because she might trip over him in the night. That seems like a rather poor excuse to me.
Perhaps another reason why black cats are difficult to adopt out is because nowadays a lot of people select cats on the internet and therefore they rely upon photographs. As mentioned above, black cats are difficult to photograph. They are not as photogenic as grey cats. Therefore black cats are less likely to attract viewers on the internet. Although I have to say that the photograph of the black kitten on this page is excellent and the kitten looks adorable.
The Blue Cross, which runs four animal hospitals and 12 rehoming centres in the UK, has seen a 65% rise in the number of black cats at their centres. They blame the modern focus on appearance.
Hayley Plows of RSPCA London says that in her experience black cats are often the ones who have suffered the worst abuse and neglect. They have had the hardest start in life.
If people focused more on their relationship with their cat companion and less on appearance then black cats who deserve the chance of a better life would be given it.
Three of my last four cats have been black or black-and-white (tuxedo).
P.S. Black cats are healthier!