Black cats are overlooked and under-appreciated

A black cat, named Beef, sitting on a cat tower.

Brionna Belcher | Northern Star

A black cat, named Beef, sitting on a cat tower.

By Brionna Belcher, Managing Editor

October is Black Cat Awareness Month, and with Halloween around the corner, our TVs are guaranteed to be filled with black cats. With black cats being so heavily referenced in Halloween decor and media, it’s the perfect time to show them some love.

The association between black cats and witchcraft started in the 17th century. During the Salem Witch Trials, people believed that witches could transform themselves into black cats. Somehow, that belief created the superstition that crossing paths with a black cat was bad luck. 

Nowadays, people aren’t really out looking for witches, and consequently, the superstition regarding black cats has simmered down. But black cats are still commonly associated with witches in media simply because it’s what we’re used to.

In the ‘90s sitcom “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” the main character is accompanied by a snarky black cat, Salem, known for his humorous, sarcastic remarks. The Halloween classic “Hocus Pocus” features a black cat, Binx, who is actually an innocent teenage boy, forever trapped in the body of a cat. 

The association between black cats and witchcraft may have transformed into a harmless Halloween trope, and the superstition may be a thing of the past, but it seems these beautiful animals, once thought to be omens of bad luck, have found some bad luck themselves. 

Studies have shown that black cats spend more time in shelters than other cats and have the highest euthanasia rate

A common misconception is that black cats are overlooked because of superstition, but studies have failed to prove this, and the actual cause is likely much simpler. 

“I do think that they (black cats) are overlooked,” said Michelle Groeper, executive director at Tails Humane Society.   “I don’t know that there’s necessarily a stigma around them as much as when you have a single color pet next to a multicolor pet. It’s just a little bit more natural that the other cat will catch your eye.”

Aside from not being as eye-catching, black cats might also be considered less favorable to adoptees because the dark coloring of the cat’s face makes it harder for people to read their emotions. Because of this, people may feel like black cats aren’t as friendly as multi-colored cats.

However, Groeper has worked on and off in animal welfare for 20 years and has seen all shapes and colors of cats have all manners of personalities, proving that black cats can be just as playful and loving as any other cat. They may look a bit more serious, but with time, their personality will shine through.

This October, if you’re thinking about adopting a furry friend, consider changing the luck of a black cat by giving it a forever home. If you’ve already got a black cat, show it some extra love during Black Cat Awareness Month.