Promoting Black Cat Adoptions

Liz Palika

black cat on bed

Recently, for a writing project, I was researching some of the many myths and legends associated with black cats. For example, although a black cat crossing one’s path in Japan is seen as good luck and good fortune, in most other parts of the world that’s considered bad luck. Black cats are supposed to be familiars for witches, harbingers of disease and death, and, most often, the carriers of bad luck.

When I finished that article and sent it off for publication, hoping to perhaps dispel some of those rumors, I also wondered what else I could do to change the fate of some, even if just a few, black cats. Although the cats in my home today are orange and white, that was simply the luck of the draw; I was fostering them and they never left. But I’ve shared my home with black cats previously. Odon and Lear were playful, charming, and affectionate. And I didn’t see any change in my circumstances while I owned them!

Black Cat Adoptions

In researching black cat adoptions, I found there is a wealth of conflicting opinions and statistics. As a general rule, most people involved in rescue and shelters believe that black cats are usually the last to be adopted, often spending a longer time in rescue or in the shelter.

However, Emily Weiss, ASPCA Vice President, wrote in October 2016 that statistics don’t always back that up. In Black Is Still The New White she referred to statistics from a number of communities, almost 300,000 dogs and cats total, and found that more black cats were adopted than any other color.

However, it’s important to note that more black cats were also turned into the shelters than any other color. Were more black cats adopted simply because there were more of them? Was there color bias in turning in black cats? It must also be noted that while more black cats were adopted – because more were turned in – more were euthanized as well.

In discussing this issue with shelter managers, cat rescue groups, and fosters in several different communities, including Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, and several other smaller cities, I found that all of those involved felt that a tremendous bias does exist concerning black cat turn-ins and adoptions. They admitted that statistics might not back them up, but in talking with people daily who were either turning in an animal or looking to adopt one, they felt the bias was there.

Working Locally

In trying to decide what I could do, I turned to an organization in my community called SPOT: Saving Pets One at a Time in Oceanside, California. SPOT takes at-risk kittens from local shelters and places them in foster homes until the kittens are old enough and healthy enough to be adopted. Having fostered kittens for this group for several years (and adopting three foster fails from them) I felt this was a place I could do some good for black kittens.

In talking to Lori Quattrone, one of the founders of SPOT’s kitten program and still the program leader, we decided that a monetary fund that could subsidize the adoptions of black kittens might work. I set up an account with SPOT and we called it the Black Kitten Fund. After some social media publicity, other people donated to the fund as well.

When SPOT has a black kitten ready to be adopted, it is promoted via social media and the Black Kitten Fund is mentioned as well. Potential adopters are made aware that the kitten can be adopted at a lesser price, with the Fund making up the difference.

Is it working?

Several months have passed since the formation of the Black Kitten Fund, and although long term results won’t be available for a couple of years, Quattrone feels that, in the short run, the fund is doing some good. “I think it’s working,” she says. “We have been very successful adopting out black kittens this year, and as a result have pulled more from the local shelters than we otherwise would have.”

She added, “One lady who adopted a black kitten at a local adoption event was very excited about it.” One family who heard about the Fund went to an adoption event expressly to adopt a black kitten. They ended up adopting two black kittens without using the Fund and made a donation to the Fund as well. Quattrone also said she’s heard from other rescues who think the Fund is a great idea.

While the Black Kitten Fund is working here in San Diego County right now and I’m thrilled that it’s helping, I will admit that every community is different. In helping black kittens (and other animals in need) I truly believe the best idea overall is to talk to those actively involved in rescue work as I did with Lori Quattrone. Share ideas, think outside the box, and be willing to try new things.

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