Many of us love black cats 365 days a year. But on October 27, everyone should join in the appreciation of these dusky beauties in celebration of National Black Cat Day.
Started in 2011 by a British charity called Cats Protection, National Black Cat Day is intended to raise awareness of how lovely and personable black cats are. The motivation for this campaign is the widespread belief in animal rescue circles that black cats are less likely to be adopted from animal shelters and rescue groups than felines with fur of other colors.
How much difference coat color makes in adoption and euthanasia rates is hotly debated. Some statistics do suggest that entirely black and mostly black cats may not be chosen for adoption as often as other cats, with white or mostly white cats at the other end of the scale being more frequently taken home – at least in some shelters.
A major problem with the issue of “black cat bias” or “dark cat syndrome” is the lack of consistent record keeping on such matters. From shelter to shelter and from state to state, and then from one nation to another, coat color may be noted inconsistently and may not be recorded at all in adoption statistics. This means that there is no way to determine whether this perceived bias against black cats exists in the USA or any other country.
While some shelters have indeed found that black cats fall behind others in adoption rates, it is also true that more black or mostly black cats are born in the first place, meaning that they are more likely to be surrendered to a shelter because of their sheer numbers.
A suspicion that black cats adopted in October, the month of Halloween, could be more likely to be abused made some groups make black cats unavailable for adoption during that time. Consensus has grown that, with adequate adoption screening, the risk is small; some groups actually promote black cats during October, offering special deals on adoption fees for black cats. Which leads us back to National Black Cat Day.
If you or your organization is adopting out kittens or adult cats, October and National Black Cat Day are possible tools for promoting the adoption of black cats. Some tactics to attract potential cat adopters include:
- Providing colorful bedding and accessories to set off their midnight fur
- Emphasizing personalities and behaviors like “cuddly” or “playful”
- Finding professional photographers to get better photos
- Noting that “black goes with everything”
While the debate rages on about the statistics on black cats, nobody can deny that a caring home and spaying/neutering are good objectives for black cats. Overcoming any conscious or unconscious prejudices that might discourage adoption of black cats must be part of our approach as rescuers.