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Black cats struggle to find homes due to superstitions and social media

The animal charity RSPCA has revealed that on average, black cats take 29 days to find a home, in stark contrast to grey tabby cats that are rehomed in just nine days.

This concerning statistic emphasizes the longstanding superstitious beliefs and modern-day social media preferences that are impacting the lives of black cats.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has found that black cats, including black and white variants, are the predominant types that end up in their care. Since 2020, over 5,000 of these cats have been taken into RSPCA centers nationally. 

Black cats and age-old superstitions

The underlying reasons for this disparity are rooted in age-old myths and contemporary aesthetic preferences. For many, black cats are symbolically linked to witchcraft and are believed to bring misfortune if they cross one’s path. 

This superstition, although archaic, still holds sway with a significant portion of the population. In fact, 82 percent of RSPCA centers have encountered potential adopters expressing concerns about the supposed “bad luck” associated with black cats.

Social media’s influence 

Apart from these superstitions, the digital age has brought a new challenge for black cats: the quest for the perfect selfie. The RSPCA found that black cats are often deemed less “Instagram-friendly.” 

Due to the fact that their features might not be as prominently visible in photographs, black cats are considered less desirable among those who strive for aesthetically pleasing social media posts.

Black cats need forever homes

Dominika Jagoda, who serves as the scientific and policy officer for the companion animals department at the RSPCA, aimed to debunk these misconceptions.

“In truth, black cats won’t bring you bad luck – but they do need forever homes. The color of an animal’s fur makes no difference to how much love they have to give,” said Jagoda.

“If you can bring some magic into their lives, they are sure to bring some love into yours – so they even make your lucky day.”

Portrayed as the villain 

A study by digital marketing agency Evoluted analyzed the depiction of cats in 50 films and 50 TV shows. 

The results showed that almost half of the antagonist or “villain” cats were black or grey. Notable examples include Salem from “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and Lucifer from Disney’s “Cinderella.”

Rehoming rates

However, the bigger picture painted by the RSPCA is a decline in overall rehoming rates. Their Adoptober campaign dropped from 39,178 animals rehomed three years ago to just 27,535 in 2022. The charity has raised an alarm about its centers being “full to bursting.”

Jagoda further emphasized that the essence of pet ownership transcends mere aesthetics. “Many people sadly don’t want to rehome black cats because they don’t think that they look good in pictures and selfies, or are not ‘instagrammable’ enough.”

“As all loving owners know, having a pet is about so much more than the lovely pictures we take of them.”

More about black cats and superstition

Long ago, black cats enjoyed positive associations and even reverence. In ancient Egypt, cats of all colors, including black, held a special place. Egyptians saw them as protectors and symbols of good luck. Killing a cat, irrespective of its color, was considered a grave offense.

However, by the Middle Ages in Europe, perceptions shifted dramatically. During this period, a widespread fear of witchcraft consumed many parts of the continent.

As witch hunts increased, black cats became synonymous with witches. They were often believed to be their familiars, or even shape-shifted forms of the witches themselves. This association planted the seed of the superstition that black cats were harbingers of bad luck.

The black cat as an omen

Over time, various myths and tales emerged around black cats. In some regions, encountering a black cat signaled impending misfortune. For instance, in Western folklore, if a black cat crossed your path, it was considered an omen of bad luck. This was especially true if the cat crossed from right to left.

Conversely, in some cultures and regions, black cats were symbols of good luck. In Scottish lore, the arrival of a strange black cat at a home signified future prosperity.

Likewise, in maritime traditions, while a black cat on the ship was believed to bring calm seas and safe journeys, one walking off meant an imminent storm or even doom.

Modern times: From superstition to celebration

In the modern era, especially in Western cultures, Halloween popularized the image of the black cat. They are often depicted with an arched back and glowing eyes, which reinforces the spooky connotations. While black cats became emblematic of this holiday, the superstition surrounding them began to wane.

As mentioned previously in this article, animal welfare groups and advocates have made concerted efforts to challenge these myths. They do their best to promote the adoption of black cats, who often face lower adoption rates. As a result, many now celebrate days like “Black Cat Appreciation Day” to combat the stigmas and highlight the beauty and charm of these felines.

In summary, the history of black cats and superstition is a fascinating journey from reverence to fear and back to appreciation. While remnants of old beliefs remain, it’s heartening to see a growing movement towards celebrating and cherishing these elegant and mysterious creatures.

More about the SPCA

In the early 19th century, animal welfare became a rising concern. Recognizing the need to address animal cruelty, philanthropists and animal lovers came together to establish the Society to Prevent Animal Cruelty.

The world’s first SPCA was started in England in 1824. The group’s efforts were so impactful that, by 1840, Queen Victoria granted permission to add the word “Royal” to its name. This resulted in the formation of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).

SPCA’s global footprint

Inspired by the efforts in England, other nations followed suit. Henry Bergh founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in New York in 1866. This was America’s first humane society, and its establishment marked the beginning of organized animal welfare in the United States.

Today, numerous SPCA organizations operate worldwide, from Canada to South Africa. While they might function independently, their core mission remains the same: to prevent cruelty to animals and promote their welfare.

SPCA’s role and activities

The primary aim of the SPCA is to safeguard animals from harm. They undertake various activities to achieve this:

Rescue operations

SPCAs routinely rescue animals from abusive situations, providing them with immediate care and rehabilitation.


They house abandoned, lost, or abused animals, ensuring they receive medical care, nourishment, and love.

Adoption programs

One of the core activities of the SPCA is to find loving homes for animals. Through rigorous processes, they match animals with suitable families.


SPCAs invest in community education. By conducting workshops, campaigns, and programs, they raise awareness about animal welfare and responsible pet ownership.


Many SPCA organizations actively lobby for stronger animal protection laws and work with governments to update or enhance existing legislation.

Challenges and moving forward

Despite their commendable work, SPCA organizations often face challenges. Limited funding, overburdened shelters, and combating deep-rooted cultural practices can be daunting. Yet, with the support of volunteers, donors, and communities, they continue their relentless pursuit to make the world a kinder place for animals.

In summary, the Society to Prevent Animal Cruelty, in its various forms worldwide, stands as a testament to humanity’s capacity for compassion. As they pave the way for a more humane future, it remains our collective responsibility to support their mission and ensure a world where animals live free from harm.

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