A bit of news just in time for Halloween: Black cats stay longer in shelters before they get adopted. New research at Colorado State University proves it.
Associate professor Lori Kogan and her colleagues have released findings of a study that found it requires approximately three more days for adult black cats to be adopted compared to cats with black as a primary coat color, such as ‘tuxedo’ cats. It takes four to six more days for black cats to be adopted when compared to cats of other colors, said Kogan, who works in the CSU Department of Clinical Sciences.
According to a CSU press release, Kogan and fellow researchers examined 18 years of adoption data from the Dumb Friends League in Denver and nine years worth from the Larimer Humane Society in Fort Collins. The CSU team evaluated adoption time for cats and kittens with black coats, primarily black coats, and coats of other colors.
Longer shelter stays spell trouble for cats, the researchers note in a paper titled, “Cats in Animal Shelters: Exploring the Common Perception that Black Cats Take Longer to Adopt.”
That’s because the prevalent outcome for shelter cats is euthanasia: More than 70 percent of all cats in animal shelters are euthanized, about 25 percent of shelter cats are adopted, and a small percentage of lost cats are reunited with their owners,
Having a black coat is also bad news for shelter cats because of higher rates of potentially fatal illness and disease in the stressed shelter population.
Kogan, a licensed psychologist who studies human-animal interaction, cannot say with certainty that myths surrounding black cats – that they are furry devils who bring bad luck – are to blame for longer shelter stays.
It’s equally likely that general perceptions about color — the color white is often associated with “good,” and the color black is often associated with “bad” — play a role in animal adoptions. Likewise, she noted, black cats simply don’t photograph as well.
The bottom line, Kogan said, is that human perceptions and notions have a bearing on animal health.
“How people think about animals influences pet health and well-being,” she said. “This is true whether people’s ideas are fact-based or based on myth. We need to take these ideas into consideration when we are working to promote animal health.”
A Dumb Friends League spokesman said today his shelter recognizes the problem and has been taking steps to ease it
“We make sure our adoption counselors have the knowledge to recommend the best cat for you, not the best color,” Chris Gallegos said.
“Darker-colored cats don’t show as well. Less detail shows. We do things to show off their personalities,” Gallegos said. “We want every animal to have the same chance to get adopted.”
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