A Veterinarian’s Plea: Adopt a Preference for Black Cats!

Dr. Patty Khuly

black cats

Yesterday one of my clients confessed a deep dark secret: She’d long harbored a fear of black cats. While she understands that it’s a silly superstitious notion she needs to drop like a bad habit, she’s nonetheless terminally incapable of black cat adoration.

Unfortunately, this client is not alone. Though most of the reluctant are not so forthcoming, I know from firsthand experience as a serial kitten rescuer and fosterer that there is no kitten harder to place than a sleek black baby.

They may cavort and romp with their brethren, display daring feats of personality overkill, and mystify us with their wily ways around a feather toy, but black kittens always find their forever homes last. In fact, it’s so problematic that I’ve taken to requiring that any double adoptions include one black kitten along with the “prettier” one.

It’s not that I don’t get it. The colored kitties are awesome looking too. Some have gorgeous marbled striping, others pop with bold patterns. Still others woo us with their subtle dilute undertones and plush undercoats or wow us with their Siamese coloration and long silky strands of Himalayan hair. How’s a common black domestic shorthair to compare?

Then there’s the superstition. Removed though we may think we are from Salem and its communal peccadilloes, blackness in pets remains a common point of contention in our culture. Indeed, conventional wisdom dictates that the witching season is none too friendly a time for pets whose coloration has traditionally been feared and shunned. Superstition is clearly alive and well in modern America –– more so in certain cultures (Hispanic ones like mine seem especially predisposed).

Yes, it seems that black is out of fashion for pets. While it might work well for strong coffee, fast cars, little dresses, and patent leather, the color has its detractors on the pet front. Apparently, people don’t like to adopt black pets of any species.

Big black dogs have it bad, the fear factor being what it is, but black cats of any dimension arguably have it worse. There are just so many of them! It’s depressing enough to hear that people abandon or fail to adopt pets of any color. But for some reason it seems downright wrong that we might take special pains to avoid a subset of the needy.

Sure, it might be subconscious, it may be something few will admit to, but it nonetheless irks me that people would actively select a beloved companion using criteria as superficial as pigmentation. Especially when the adopter in question has been told that other people are likely to avoid the black ones.

Yes, by all rights, it’s the enlightened, the knowledgeable among us who should be snatching up cats who others avoid. But human psychology being what it is, it’s up to those of us who want to make a difference to preferentially adopt –– and champion! –– the black ones.

Maybe it’s a good idea, then, to go out of your way to place a black cat or kitten. Tweet, Facebook, Instagram Snapchat or otherwise proclaim your preference for the obsidian, jet, ebony, sable, and inky, thereby bringing eyeballs to bear on this overlooked subset of the wanting.

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