Black (animal) Friday!  - News - Leicester Animal Aidfeature image

Black (animal) Friday!

Here at Leicester Animal Aid, we give all of our animals the very best of care. This includes good food, daily exercise, lots of interesting enrichment activities and plenty of love and attention. What’s more, we find that many fellow animal-lovers approaching us with the intention of adopting a new pet, often share our values.

It is an oft-repeated 'fact' that animals in rescue shelters with black fur wait longer than others to find their forever home. But is there any truth in the myth, and if so, why exactly is it that black animals find it harder to find their forever homes? 

Cattery manager Alex says: 

“I think that colour has definitely been a factor in the past, but I do think that attitudes are changing now. From the interested parties forms that come in via the website, I would say that we do still get more interest for ginger and tabby cats. But it’s not just pure black cats that can wait longer to be adopted, black and white cats, or any cats with a lot of ‘block colour,’ can be affected.”

It seems that the same can be said for black dogs. Kennel and Cattery manager Becky says:

“It definitely seems to be the case with black dogs, especially if they are also quite large. For example, if we get two greyhounds in at the same time, it’s nearly always the case that the black one will take longer to find a home.”   

However, it’s not all bad news. Some members of the public actively seek out animals that they think will struggle to find homes precisely because they don’t want them to be overlooked.  Alex says:

“Some people specifically request black animals precisely because they think that these animals may struggle to find a home. I have heard it said by would be adopters, that they prefer ginger cats, because they are the friendliest. I’ve also heard people say that ginger and tabby cats are more striking. But what I would say to that is you can’t put a colour on friendliness. All animals are individuals and their ‘friendliness’ largely depends on how they have been brought up and how much interaction with humans the animal has had. Colour is not a factor.”     

Black cats in particular seem to have become fixed in our imaginations as synonymous with either good luck or bad. Of course, any kind of animal is a sign of neither, but in Scottish folklore for example, a black cat appearing at your door signifies wealth in years to come. In the witch trials that took place in the sixteenth century, the ownership of a black cat was, for some unfortunate women, seen as further proof of them being a witch. As a consequence of this, many historians believe that the spread of the Black Death plague (spread by infected fleas on small animals including rats) is partly attributable to the fact that the cat population at the time was lower than usual due to many cats perishing in the witch hunt.  It just goes to show; even though we think of dogs as being ‘man’s best friend,’ our feline friends also deserve a very special place in our hearts too!          

Another reason cited for black animals being at the back of the queue when it comes to adoption, is the belief that black animals do not look as appealing in photos as their lighter or multi-coloured friends, or that their facial expression is harder to read. With the increasing popularity of social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, could this be a growing problem? Alex says:

“I have heard it said that black animals do not look as good on social media as other animals. If any adopters mentioned that the number of ‘likes’ or ‘shares’ their future pet was likely to get on social media was a factor in choosing an animal, I would say focus instead on factors such as the kind of home and lifestyle you have and whether you have other pets and/or children.”

Whether you are superstitious or not, there does seem to be some truth in the notion that black animals, black and white animals and those who are mainly one colour can be harder to rehome.  So, that’s why we are asking you to post a picture of your animal, like or share our posts, donate and generally get behind Leicester Animal Aid’s first Black (animal) Friday!