Black Cat & Black Dog Syndrome: Why are shelters having problems getting black cats and dogs adopted?

by on September 27th, 2010 at 7:00 am

Black cat/black dog syndrome occurs when a potential owner walks into a shelter to adopt a cat or dog, and they look over all black animals and pick up a pet of a mixed color. When I first heard of the black cat/black dog syndrome, I thought, “This can’t be true”. However, after doing some article research from different shelters, I now understand how it happens- and let me tell you, it’s something we should all be aware of.

Color is a powerful thing!

From what shelter personnel can tell, adopters are more attracted to animals with tan, yellow and red coats. Individuals that work in these shelters chalk up the adoption of lighter and brighter animals to be attributed to color preference, without actually testing personalities.

When you think about your own wardrobe, there may be a particular outfit you get a lot of compliments on; this is due to the way the fabric, color and your complexion all go together. The same is true for animals, though they have a “permanent outfit” on all year round. Some individuals look past dark colors and steer towards light colors, therefore never really even “seeing” an animal with darker fur.

Special effects

Shelters tend to have very little resources to help them get the word out about the pets they have up for adoption. You may notice when scrolling through pet photos online, photos with all black animals tend to come out looking grainy or blurry. Pair this with the fact people are so drawn to color, which definitely doesn’t help the situation at shelters.

Some shelters are actually hiring professional photographers because of this problem, and even adding colorful collars to pets to make them stand out from each other. While looking at animals online can definitely help soon to be adoptive parents narrow down their picks, it may be even more helpful to go to the shelter and see all the animals and also get a good idea of different pet personality types. Be aware that most animals, when out of their element may become shy, aggressive or even more rambunctious.

Superstitious ways

Unfortunately due to superstition, black cats get a very bad rap, especially around Halloween. Shelters now-a-days can’t adopt black cats out over Halloween due to superstitions. If you are in the market for a black cat of your own, make sure to adopt yours before September or after November.

Black cat/dog syndrome is real, but the next time you are in the market for a new pet, make sure the number one thing you take into account is personality and temperament. Remember that each animal has his or her own good and bad qualities.

Adopting a shelter pet is a very admirable thing to do, but before you leave, get paperwork from the shelter workers about your new pet. You should know about any illnesses your pet has or has been troubled with in the past. It is very common for shelter animals to contract upper respiratory problems.

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4 Responses to “Black Cat & Black Dog Syndrome: Why are shelters having problems getting black cats and dogs adopted?”

  1. Interesting…even our choice of animal is dictated by what we’ve learned to appreciate about “color”. Bad guys wear black. Witches have black cats. Black is beautiful :)

    I never would have imagined that color played a role in choosing a pet from a shelter. I would have thought feeling a connection with the animal would take precedence.

    • B. Chancey

      Sep 29th, 2010

      Thanks for the comment Cheryl! Since some individuals pass up black cats and dogs altogether, they really don’t know if they could have a connection with the animal or not. Color truly is a powerful thing!

  2. Sarah

    Nov 4th, 2010

    That’s a really interesting article. Considering that I started out looking for a black lab 4 years ago with the help of Labrador Rescue. At the time they did not have any black labs that were available for adoption. They introduced me to Sam, a yellow lab, the day after Christmas in 2006. I went with an open mind and open heart and low and behold he won me over. He had a big old block head and such a sweet demeanor. I wouldn’t trade him for the world.

  3. Hillary

    Nov 12th, 2011

    The funny thing is they are not really black they are just super super super super super DARK Brown since black does not exist in the animal kingdom!

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