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Home > Cats > Black Cat Syndrome: Reasons, Adoptions, & FAQ

Black Cat Syndrome: Reasons, Adoptions, & FAQ

black smoke american shorthair cat

Have you ever heard the old wives’ tales and superstitions about how black cats bring bad luck, are associated with witches, and can bring death? As silly as these may sound, it is believed that they subconsciously play on the minds of people looking to adopt, as black cats have a harder time getting adopted than their colorful counterparts. This phenomenon got its name in the 2000s by the ASPCA.

In countries where there is a negative stigma attached to black cats, shelter workers are constantly coming up with new ways to promote these cats, highlighting their bright personalities instead of the color of their coats. This “black cat syndrome” is seen in many parts of the world, but Eastern culture views black cats completely differently and believes that they are associated with good luck, are able to ward off evil, and can bring something magical into your life.


Why Are They Seen Negatively?

Scottish Fold black cat sitting on the grass
Image Credit: Oporty786, Shutterstock

The negative association around black cats isn’t anything new. In fact, the 13th century was one of their worst periods in history, thanks to the Catholic church and their belief that black cats were linked to the devil. Those beliefs were passed on from generation to generation, and although people are more educated today, there are still cultures that believe that black cats and dogs are linked to the occult.

The media still paints black cats in a negative light as they often use them in films and books about the supernatural due to their age-long association with witchcraft. Black cats are on every advertisement connected to Halloween because the color black is tied to death. Some people also view these cats as spooky because they’re hard to see in the dark and can seemingly appear from nowhere.


Why Are There So Many Black Cats in Shelters?

Unfortunately, “black cat syndrome” holds true as there are generally more black cats in shelters. It’s not entirely due to superstitions, but it does play a part, as superstitious people won’t even consider a black cat and would much rather opt for a colorful one.

However, there also tends to be a greater number of black cats in shelters, so even if the same number of black cats and colorful cats were adopted on the same day, it would seem as though fewer black cats found homes because there would be more leftover at the end of the day.

Colorful cats are used in advertisements because they are easier to photograph and are deemed more attractive, so when people go to shelters to find a new pet, they tend to gravitate towards the types of cats they’ve seen on TV, on websites, in magazines, and on social media.

As unfortunate as it is, the reality is that black cats don’t stand out as well as their colorful counterparts and tend to get overlooked.

Adoption Strategies

With every challenge, a solution needs to be created. Thankfully, shelter workers are good at these and have several adoption strategies in place to promote black cats. Many adoption centers around the country hold special events to create awareness about black cats and use social media to shine a light on their beautiful features and personalities.

Some facilities offer discounts on black cats, and others will only take black cats along to public events to ensure that they’re not the last types of cats in their shelters to get adopted. Sadly, various studies have shown that black cats have a lower adoption rate and higher euthanasia rate than cats of other coat colors. It is important not to choose a cat based on the color of their fur but rather on their personality.

black cat in the arms of a woman
Image Credit: Oporty786_Shutterstock

Reasons You Should Adopt a Black Cat

If you’re looking to welcome a new cat into your home, we highly recommend adopting one from your local animal shelter. Go and spend some time with the cats at the shelter and consider if you want a kitten or an adult cat, as there are pros and cons to both.

Kittens are a lot more demanding than adult cats and have not yet been trained, which will be your responsibility. The option you choose will depend on the amount of time you have in a day to pour into your cat.

It’s important to find a cat that is the right fit for you and your lifestyle, regardless of their coat color. Consider a cat that is active, affectionate, and comfortable around you, as these are indicators that the cat is healthy and well-socialized. If your two top picks are between a cat with a light coat and one with a black coat, consider choosing the black cat. Here’s why:

  • Studies have shown that cats with white coats have the highest adoption rates and lowest euthanasia rates, so someone else will adopt that cat quickly, whereas the black cat may stay at the shelter for a long time.
  • You’ll be lowering the number of black cats at the shelter.
  • You’ll be creating awareness that black cats aren’t something to be feared or avoided, which may encourage others to do the same.
  • You’ll be gaining a new friend who is just as precious and worthy of love as any other cat.
  • Contrary to the superstitions surrounding black cats, all cats bring health benefits to their owners, which include lowering anxiety and stress, lowering blood pressure, improving cardiovascular health, preventing allergies, improving moods, and eliminating loneliness.



Black cat syndrome is not a myth, as many shelters encounter this phenomenon and have created adoption strategies to encourage the adoption of black cats. Studies have shown that black cats have the lowest adoption rates and highest euthanasia rates, which is partly because there are superstitions about them and partly because they aren’t portrayed equally online and through advertising.

Contrary to some stereotypes, black cats have loving and friendly personalities. Encourage those looking to adopt to consider a black cat and break the stigma surrounding these stunning creatures.

Featured Image Credit: marumaru, Shutterstock

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