Black Cat Facts And Myths

Black cats are remarkable enough to have their own special day! And we don't mean Halloween, either. Every year, shelters, rescues and cat lovers in general celebrate Black Cat Appreciation Day on August 17th. Let's take a look at some of the actual facts about black cats. Don't worry, later we'll talk about myths and superstitions, too.

Black cats - the real and fascinating facts

Here are some pretty cool facts about our beautiful black felines.

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  1. The black color of their hair is caused by a type of pigment produced in the hair follicle called eumelanin. Black cats produce a coat that's very rich in eumelanin.
  2. The gene for black coat color in felines is dominant. That means that a cat only needs one copy of the gene for the coat to be black. It also means that a black cat may not necessarily produce black kittens.
  3. Solid blue/gray cats are actually black! They carry the black coat gene, but also a secondary gene which dilutes the concentration of pigments. This unique combination creates the beautiful slate blue shade of solid gray cats.
  4. Some black cats also carry the tabby gene. The black color usually covers the tabby pattern, but in some felines tabby markings can be detected under the right lighting.
  5. A black coat can change its color over the years. A "rusty" brown shade may show up, especially along the tips of coat tufts. In some cases, the cat's coat can show gray and white shades as the cat ages, especially around the face.
  6. The feline coat color is unrelated to the coat's length. Black cats can have long hair or short.
  7. Black cats can be of certain cat breeds but they can also be more common domestic shorthair or longhair cats (of no particular breed). You can't tell a cat's breed just by its coat color and pattern. Some breeds don't have a black coat as part of the repertoire. Bengals, Russian Blue cats, Turkish Vans and many other breeds cannot be black. However, many breeds such as Oriental Shorthair cats, Persians, Maine Coons and others can come in practically all patterns and coat colors, black included.
  8. At least one cat breed has black as the only color allowed in the breed: the Bombay Cat. With no connection to India, this breed was created by breeding Burmese cats and American shorthairs.
  9. Black cats were targeted during medieval witch hunts in Europe. They were believed to be demonic entities that helped witches perform their dark spells.

So much for actual facts. As for superstitions, many surround black cats and are often quite local and not easy to trace accurately. Many cultures view cats as emblems of mysterious forces, black cats even more so. Here are a few superstitions about black cats from around the world -

  • Black cats are said to bring good luck in the UK.
  • In Jewish culture, a black cat crossing between two people means they're likely to get into a conflict.
  • In the Edo period in Japan black cats were believed to cure tuberculosis.

Are black cats less adoptable?

Many sources claim that people tend to skip over black cats in shelters and adopt cats of other colors more quickly. Actual fact, or just a myth? It's hard to tell. Not all shelters keep the relevant data, and those that do can't offer a conclusive statement.

The best study to date was conducted by Dr. Emily Weiss of the ASPCA. According to Dr. Weiss, the shelters sampled were indeed putting more black cats to sleep compared to any other color. However, they were also adopting out more black cats than any other color. The bottom line is, the shelters were taking in more black cats than any other colors simply because it's a very common coat color in that area. According to the ASPCA, once in the shelter, these cats faced similar odds as cats of other colors.

We also checked with the RSPCA, the UK's leading animal welfare organization and asked them if black cats were harder to adopt out. According to their data, black cats do wait longer than average in the shelter before going to their new homes. On average, a black cat spends 33 days in the shelter before being adopted. That's more than most other colors. Only dark tortoiseshell cats share that record. By comparison, gray tabbies spend an average of 23 days in the shelter and ginger cats only 20.

Why such a difference? Could it be local cultural biases? It's hard to tell. The additional data does suggest that black cats may be at a real disadvantage, possibly depending on local trends.

Consider adopting a black cat!

If you're looking to adopt a new cat, please consider cats of all colors and patterns. Don't overlook the black cats in the shelter. Many members of have wonderful black feline companions and they can all attest to just how wonderful having a black kitty in your life is.

Each black cat is special. To celebrate Black Cat Appreciation Day and our love for black cats throughout the year, here's a special gallery of beautiful black cats. If you're a regular in our forums you'll probably recognize at least some of them! And if you're not a regular, then join us today and submit your own photos of your cats - black or not!

Black Cats Gallery

Take a few moments to enjoy these photos submitted by our members and appreciate the beauty of black cats. Please share this with your friends, too, to increase awareness to these special felines.

34 comments on “Black Cat Facts And Myths

Apollo March 9, 2022
There’s an adorable black cat in my neighborhood, his name is Bruce. I was on a walk with my friend and Bruce came up to us and it was so cute.
bilou October 10, 2019
Our black cat is very vocal too, he follows me out in our country house for few hundred meters and answers and comes when I call him. Our second cat couldn’t care less and she’s a real spook
DreamersRose October 8, 2019
I love my black cat. He's smart and a loving companion. He's very vocal and answers any question I ask him.
calicosrspecial October 8, 2019
I ABSOLUTELY LOVE my black cats (and all black cats). They are incredibly sweet, get along really well with other cats, and love people and dogs. They are truly special. I can say they have brought a lot of love to me so they are good luck. I wouldn't be whole without my black cats! I am way better off with them in my life.
geodevos October 8, 2019
My dear old golden retriever Yeller had his own big black rescue cat named Dinque, (dinky) Actually Dinque had Yeller for his pet. Dinque stayed close to Yeller except when hunting rodents which he did successfully. Dinque ate his fill and brought the rest to Yeller which Yeller happily enjoyed. After years of this beautiful relationship, injection site cancer in his shoulder took Dinque from us. It was the weekend before Halloween. Yeller and I went to the shelter to find him another kitty. There a lovely coal black lady cat with a pink ribbon clearly asked me to rescue her but the manager would not let me adopt a black cat because it was Halloween weekend. I was offended but I planned to return for her after Halloween. On the way home we found an orphan tortie kitten in a box at Walmart's front door. She was the last ugly drowsy kitten no one had taken. She needed a friend. When introduced to Yeller all was peaceful so she became his new kitty. She had extra toes, so her name was Pollycat. I often wish I had also rescued the sweet black ladycat at the shelter. I hope she found a home. Every year, Halloweeen reminds me of her.
CrazyCatSusu June 8, 2018
My black cat ‘Grisabella The Gothic Glamour Puss’ is a very affectionate girl. She doesn’t stray far from the house either, I only have to shout her name once and she comes flying inside. Im from the U.K (Scotland) and the belief regarding black cats is mixed. Some believe they’re good luck others believe they’re bad luck.
Candybee May 11, 2018
I was once very fortunate to own a beautiful black cat I named Baby Bear. He was born in my house so I had him all his life. Unfortunately it was a very short life of just 10 yrs as he died of cancer. The night he was going to pass away my other cat, his litter sister Cookiepuss, and I snuggled next to him in his soft bed. While she lovingly licked and groomed his fur I stroked his beautiful coat and sang softly to him. His eyes stared up at me adoringly the way he always did when he wanted to be petted and loved on. I have this beautiful memory of him burned into my soul. His coat was black but it was more of a sable black with hues of varied color you could see as the light hit it. Because of him I always look at black cats and think about my beautiful, sweet Baby Bear!
geodevos April 11, 2018
All three of my black cats had exceptionally friendly affectionate temperaments, while at the same time being deadly hunters, regularly bringing home "gifts" of mice and occasionally large rats. My last black cat adopted my golden retriever and they were inseparable. The retriever, Yellerdog, was the bodyguard of Dinque cat who brought presents of rodents for Yeller to eat. They were such an unlikely pair of cronies I spent a lot of time just watching them. Yes, black cats do rule and some even have their own dogs.
Tristanwitch March 20, 2018
The very 1st day I went to volunteer in our no-kill shelter------ as soon as I walked in the door this tiny little jet-black kitten ran up and wrapped herself around my ankles------never left me the whole 4 hour shift; when I was leaving the owner said it looked like she has adopted ME ...!!!! I did adopt her and took her home and named her SPOOKY ................ She is the LOVE of my life ............. xoxoxoxoxoxo
Alejandra Rico November 19, 2017
Alejandra Rico said:
Hey, poor Melanistic Bengals, have you forgotten about them? They are essentially super cool black cats!
@buttons, Bengal cats are descendants of the outcross of the Asian Leopard Cat (a small and timid feline, of the size of a domestic cat) an the domestic cat. So there is no actual influence of the black panther or the Leopard, even though they clearly look alike un their pattern.
Buttons2014 November 19, 2017
my black cat came after a internet wichcraft love spell believe it or not it said that we have done the love ritual and said if it did not work something will come your way, if not happy we will re try the spell, anyways a few days later i got a black randomly picked kitten which was the last one of the litter from a corner store, ever sense then this cat will not leave my side its like a dog, it even plays fetch, could be one heck of a coinsidence, but it could be from the spelli idk. but i am very happy with my new love companion :) actually am glad it failed it would be to scary if it was from the spell. lol and when i say t plays fetch, it plays fetch better then most dogs, it has a very squshy soft heart toy it likes which was a stress reliever thing so he ill not have any problems seeking its teeth in to, he dropps it right in my palm.
Buttons2014 November 19, 2017
Alejandra Rico said:
Hey, poor Melanistic Bengals, have you forgotten about them? They are essentially super cool black cats!
that is a beautiful black cat i did not even know they existed, i wonder if it came from the black leoperd/black panther tree or something
master tabby November 18, 2017
Bagheera's mamma said:
My mini panther is black with big old ears and gorgeous green eyes!!!!!! I love black cats so much!!! I will definitely be celebrating black cat day tomorrow!!!
I was going to name my black cat panther as well, not a spot of a different color. But his real name came up right away when I got him home. His name is Shadow, partly because he is my protector and follows me when he can. The other, he hides in the shadows. He is a stinker and he likes to pick on my bigger orange tabby who is now a senior cat and doesn't like to fight where Shadows does. He gets his ass kicked but he doesn't give up. After I hear stress in my tabby's voice I break them up. I kept telling Shadow, one of these days Tiger my tabby is going to have enough. It came one day, heard them fighting then no sound, Tiger had Shadow by the throat and Shadow on his back. No tails wagging and neither is moving, I told Tiger let him go I don't want you to kill him. Shadow is just a stinker, and very smart. And one more thing, Shadow knows how to turn on my printer. I know if I left the lid up, he would put out a 100 selfies of his butt if I did. Black cats are cool.
Lmiller November 10, 2017
Black cat appreciation day is the same as my birthday, my black cat is my whole world!
davidc59 October 27, 2017
Hi ,today is Black Cat appreciation day(27/100) over here in Britain. Can't say i am appreciating my black cat sooty at the moment. He didn't come in tonight until 11.45pm ,little sod. He is curled up asleep on the chair in my bedroom .
Alejandra Rico October 25, 2017
Alejandra Rico said:
Hey, poor Melanistic Bengals, have you forgotten about them? They are essentially super cool black cats!
It is not a "hybrid", but a melanistic Bengal cat, as I said...
2BlkKitties October 25, 2017
I absolute LOVE my two black kittens. They're the best. Wednesday is a Polydactyl! Her brother isn't a poly but he's just as unique as she is! I am excited that there is a black cat day, but every day in my life is black cat day!
Burlews October 23, 2017
mama africa said:
Beautiful pictures !!! My very first cat was a black one and she was gorgeous. She was still very young when some lunatic shot her.
Horrible and sad to hear.. Hoping lunatic has had karma worse than your baby.. Love and thoughts for you. ❤
Tdizz11 October 20, 2017
I adopted my first black cat, Dalton, 2 years ago and this summer adopted another black boy, Bodhi, because I felt Dalton was bored while I was at work. After 2 days, they were snuggling together. They are both so loving and talkative. My black boys are the best!
xdimples October 16, 2017
I really want a black cat cause I think it will get along with my tom cat, Mustache.
master tabby October 15, 2017
Alejandra Rico said:
Hey, poor Melanistic Bengals, have you forgotten about them? They are essentially super cool black cats!
Hybrid of some wild cat, good looking cat though. You will either do a DNA Test, or wait til full grown and still would have to DNA test to see what family. But looks hybrid to me.
Lylith Raven September 21, 2017
I did not know that a Black Cat Day existed lol. I just missed it, oh well. Black cats are the best :3
master tabby September 16, 2017
I have had a number of black cats in my life. About 3 yrs ago I went to our local shelter and asked for a black kitten. They had one and he adopted me right away. He is great at hiding and some times in plain sight. But he slept on my keyboard and I forgot to shut it down. In the morning I find 6666666666666666 going on for pages. He sometimes goes a little nuts, but he is my protector. I think he is American Bombay, he is all black, and if you see white that's his skin. His pads are black as well, a short hair, but the hair is very coarse. And his eyes change colors, yellow, green and blue depending on the lighting.
mazie August 30, 2017
As you can tell by my avatar, Black cats Rule!:thumbsup:
davidc59 August 27, 2017
Hi ,got 2 black cats from the same litter ,one has longer fur than the other one ,in certain lights you can see ginger brown patches on them .
Alejandra Rico August 23, 2017
Hey, poor Melanistic Bengals, have you forgotten about them? They are essentially super cool black cats!
sparkie August 22, 2017
My husband and I are both totally smitten by (and owned by) fluffy black cats! We make it a point to adopt them when we can.
jules10 August 19, 2017
I adopted a black kitten (with a white spot on her chest) in Nov. 2016! She has been a gift to have after the tragic loss of my other cat in June of 2016. I've never had a black cat before but the one I have now is beautiful, just beautiful! She has the sleekest shiniest coat you've ever seen. Every vet that has seen her is stunned by her beautiful coat! She was sick when I got her but after doctoring her for the past several months, she is now 100% & NO she did not have feline herpes. Some vets will tell you anything for a buck, that is the sad part of this story! Adopt a black cat! Your luck will change for the better!! :)
rascalshadownj2 August 18, 2017
I agree! I have two male black cats, and they are very smart! They are good cats too, and while they are not friendly with strangers, they get along well with me and my mom. I would definitely recommend people adopting black cats from shelters. We acquired ours by way of a tabby female, so we got ours "free." ;) But I'm glad to have my cats. :bigeyes::bigeyes:
betsygee August 17, 2017
Happy Black Cat Appreciation Day! :blackcat2:
Bagheera's mamma August 16, 2017
My mini panther is black with big old ears and gorgeous green eyes!!!!!! I love black cats so much!!! I will definitely be celebrating black cat day tomorrow!!!
mama africa August 15, 2017
Beautiful pictures !!! My very first cat was a black one and she was gorgeous. She was still very young when some lunatic shot her.
nahui August 15, 2017
Hooray for black cats! :clap2: My two, Gato and Tita, will be getting a special treat to celebrate their day for sure!
LSpector August 15, 2017
I know the shelter in my hometown offers reduced adoption fees on black cats, so the superstitions (at least where I am from) are alive and well, unfortunately. It's a shame because I find most of the black cats I know have the BEST personalities!! My mom has a black cat and I swear he is more human than feline :D

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