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Black cats and dogs may have more difficulty getting adopted.

Bad Luck and Good News for Black Cats and Dogs

My cat, Olivia.
My cat, Olivia.

Black cats are unfairly stereotyped and far less likely than their more colorful cousins to be adopted at animal shelters.

Some studies have shown that black cats are much more likely to be euthanized than their Siamese, calico and tiger-striped counterparts, often languishing for months at the shelter because of people’s preconceptions about their personalities, behavior and even their level of luck!

And black dogs are not without their false notions and prejudice. Big, frightening black dogs can be seen in The Hound of the Baskervilles, the Harry Potter series, both movie versions of The Omen and even on the common “Beware of Dog” sign. Like black cats, large black dogs have a much lower chance of being adopted and a much larger chance of being euthanized – a phenomenon recognized by many dog rescues as shelters as Black Dog Syndrome (BDS).

dog with sand on his face at the beach dog advice
My black dog, Chilly.

Throw human superstitions of black cats being associated with witchcraft and the “generic-ness” of black dogs into the mix and a black pet’s luck just turned from bad to worse.

The good news is that shelters have known this for years and often employ unique tactics to find homes for black pets, such as two-for-one specials or promotions like “Black Goes With Everything” or “Back in Black.”

Appropriately enough, October is National Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month and there are more black dogs (and cats!) in need than ever.

You know that you can’t judge a black cat or black dog by its cover… but others might not be aware of this phenomenon and the great adoption need that exists for these “pets of the night.”

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good news for black cats and black dogs

If you know someone who is considering adopting a pet, encourage them to look past their first impressions of a black pet. Tell people about BDS and that black cats have bad luck, but don’t bring it. Generally, these are unconscious prejudices and most people will move past it once they’re aware.

Remind people that their parents were right:  personality does matter more than appearance. When it comes time to adopt a new pet, spending time with a potential adoptee will let you know if an animal’s the right fit for you.

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Kristen Levine is a nationally acclaimed pet expert, influencer, and Fear Free Certified® Professional with over 30 years of experience in the industry. She's helped millions of pet parents provide the best care at every stage of their pet’s life.

Her blog, Pet Living with Kristen Levine has been featured in Pop Sugar, Good Housekeeping, New York Times, USA Today, and more.

She's also the founder of FWV Fetching, the first marketing agency exclusively serving pet and animal health companies.

Her early work with the SPCA led her to a lifelong career in the pet industry, advocating for pet adoption and rescue as well as for pets and their parents here on her blog and in the media.

She’s frequently booked on satellite media tours and national shows, like FOX & Friends, Good Morning America, and Daytime, to talk about pet trends and new products.

Insanely passionate about pets since she was a little girl, Kristen has had more than 30 pets in her lifetime — including dogs, cats, goats, donkeys, a horse, a gerbil, mice, and chickens!

In 2022, she launched to help pet parents keep pet homes clean -- to love more, stress less.

Kristen is married and lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her dog Tulip.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. My 18 year old female cat is loosing strips of hair up her back and it seems to move left to right or straight up from tail…3 Veterinarians are involved, has had an injection to keep her from aggressively licking, seems to be drinking more, still grooms herself everyday, on condroiten for joints, eats Science Diet soft and hard nuggets, follows a flashlight, etc.

  2. I don’t have a black-furred pet because my Dad is allergic to cats, so we can only get hypoallergenic cats, and we don’t have room for any other cats to live outside, but my best friend has a VERY, VERY, VERY BIG black dog. His name is Clifford, and he’s the sweetest thing in the world. He never bites, never scratches, and my best friend has a younger sister who’s in pre-primary, and she (my friends younger sister) CONSTANTLY plays with him.

    Moral: Black pets aren’t just for witches anymore.

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