This past Tuesday was National Black Cat Day and today is Halloween. Black cats have long been a staple in Halloween decorations. Often, they are depicted hissing with an arched back and fur spiked out, standing on end. Unfortunately, this imagery just emboldens a negative view that many people have of black cats all year round, with us all growing up hearing silly superstitions like ‘a black cat crossing your path is bad luck’.
It’s hard for those of us in rescue to fathom how in this day and age people still have superstitious views of black cats that cause them to remain the least-adopted and highest-euthanized population of cats in shelters.
Studies show that this is still the case. For example, in a study of shelters in Colorado, solid black cats took an average of 26.55 days (SD = 25.09) to be adopted compared to 20.64 days (SD = 21.02) for their non-black counterparts. While that may not seem like a huge deal, that extra week in a shelter means more potential exposure to upper respiratory infections, stress, and other things that can impact their well-being.
What’s more sad is that black cats are more likely than other colors to be euthanized at shelters. A recent study of almost 8,000 cats in Kentucky’s shelters confirmed that black cats are slightly more likely to be euthanized compared to cats of other colors.
Additionally, a 2016 Orange County Register article revealed that in 2015, OC Animal Care which runs the county’s animal shelter, took in 10,571 cats. Of those, 13 percent were solid black. Of those black cats, 13 percent were adopted and 64 percent were euthanized. In comparison, of the non-black cats, 21 percent were adopted and 52 percent were euthanized.
It’s not only old superstitions that make it more challenging for black cats to be adopted. It’s also more difficult to get good photographs of black cats, making it more challenging for foster parents and shelters to showcase them on their websites and social media pages. While they may be beautiful, sleek little house panthers in real life, that doesn’t always translate well in photos.
We don’t encourage that as, we never want people to adopt a kitty for an impulsive reason, which could lead to a returned kitty a few weeks or months later. Some rescues actually even pause black cat adoptions around the holiday to discourage irresponsible adopters (or abusers) from taking home a black kitty at Halloween.
While there may not be substantial evidence that there’s an increase in abuse of black cats around Halloween time, there could be an increase in impulsive adoption of black cats inspired by the holiday. Some shelters even offer discounted adoption fees for black cats for Halloween.
We would encourage all cat owners to always keep their kitties of any color indoors at all times. But, especially at Halloween time, we would stress that. Even if there are no horrible abusers out there targeting black cats at Halloween, all the people out walking around Trick-or-Treating could spook your kitty on this spooky holiday—and that’s enough reason to keep them in and keep them safe.
Would you like to give a home to a beautiful house panther of your own? Check out our Petfinder listings – there’s sure to be a few black and black and white kitties available.