Time to adopt a black cat (time to leave the superstitions in the past)


Poor little Gatsby (A 508799) was abandoned in the alley behind the Pasadena Humane shelter. He’s come a long way since then by showing how much he loves people! He’s happiest when he’s snuggled up right under your neck where it is warm and he can nuzzle with you. He loves to climb and explore. Plus, he was reported to be very good with his foster family’s 12-year-old daughter. To adopt Gatsby, go to pasadenahumane.org

Many years ago, a tiny black kitten named Bruce beat the most extraordinary odds. The 4-week-old ball of fur was heard shrieking in pain under the hood of a car after the engine was started.

Pasadena Humane animal control officers were dispatched, and the kitten — who barely weighed a pound — was brought to the shelter for emergency surgery on his badly injured leg.

Now 11-years-old, Bruce is a healthy and lucky kitty living his happy life as a tripod. His adopter sends us regular updates and shares her gratitude for all we did to save his life over a decade ago.

In honor of black cats like Bruce and the hundreds of other black cats that come through our shelter every year, we celebrate “National Black Cat Appreciation Day” on August 17.

This holiday was created to help dispel the myths about black cats and to help more of these sleek felines get adopted into loving homes.

Let’s face it, black cats have gotten a bad rap in our society. Superstitions and myths abound that link black cats to bad luck and witchcraft. It’s not surprising, considering that in Colonial America and during the Salem Witch Trials black cats were targeted and killed alongside those believed to be witches.

On the flip side, many cultures think black cats bring good luck. In Japan, black cats are believed to help singles find love, generate wealth and ward off evil.

In Scotland, black cats bring prosperity when they appear in your doorway. In England, black cats are said to bring good luck to a couple as a gift on their wedding day, and British sailors believed having a black cat aboard their ship ensured safe passage.

At Pasadena Humane, we believe that black cats are 100% good luck! We encourage anyone looking to adopt a cat to consider taking one home.

So why are there so many black cats in shelters?

First, there are just more black cats. Black is the most common coat color in cats. But, finding a completely black cat head to toe is rare. Most black cats have some other coloring in their fur, whiskers, or paw pads.

Anecdotal evidence, as well as research into the issue, would suggest that more black cats enter shelters than cats of other colors. Also, black cat bias may mean that black cats stay in shelters longer and do not have as favorable odds for adoption.

A study exploring the psychology behind people’s reactions to black cats found that black cats are viewed as significantly less friendly and more aggressive than cats of other colors.

This feeling was based purely on seeing photos of cats of various colors. Also, the more superstitious people are, the more they think black cats are aggressive, unfriendly and unadoptable.

That’s why it’s important for shelters to work especially hard to find them homes. As most black cat guardians will tell you, darker-colored kitties have lots of love to give and need families to love them back just as much.

So, on August 17, please help spread the word about the love and good fortune black cats can bring into our lives. Maybe you or someone you know would consider bringing one of these feline friends into your home.

You don’t have to wait until “Black Cat Appreciation Day” to adopt! Our shelter is full of hundreds of adoptable cats and kittens.

Adopt now or stop by our Clear the Shelters free adoption event, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, August 19. To view adoptable cats of all colors, pasadenahumane.org/adopt


Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane, pasadenahumane.com

This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on August 11, 2023.