Beautiful photos of black cats help show their personalities. Photography ©Best Friends Animal Society/Lori Fusaro.
Beautiful photos of black cats help show their personalities. Photography ©Best Friends Animal Society/Lori Fusaro.

Shutting Down Black Cat Superstitions

Black cat superstitions run the gamut. In honor of Black Cat Awareness Month, let’s take a look at who’s shutting these myths down — and what you can do.
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While in many parts of the world black cats are seen as bringing good luck, in the United States it’s no secret that black cat superstitions still abound and that black cats still have a PR problem. It’s said to be a bad omen if one crosses your path, and they’re the classic witch sidekick.

According to a 2013 ASPCA study, there are more black cats in general due to the fact that black is a dominant gene trait. Since there are more of them who need homes, and they have to overcome outdated stereotypes, black cats can use all the help they can get. Here are a few people, organizations — and a even a cat — doing exactly that.

Famous black cats like Sophie the Model work to shut down black cat superstitions

The lovely Sophie the Model was made for the spotlight. Photography Instagram: @sophie_the_model.
The lovely Sophie the Model was made for the spotlight. Photography Instagram: @sophie_the_model.

When Jennifer Miller found a kitten under a dumpster, she intended on fostering her until she placed her. Now, 220k Instagram fans later (@sophie_the_model), it’s clear that didn’t work out as planned! She says Sophie is, “The best thing that happened to our family.”

It was only after adopting Sophie that Jennifer became aware of the misconceptions associated with black cats. Through Sophie’s social media pages and public events, she hopes to open people’s eyes to how wonderful black cats are.

To say Sophie was made for the spotlight is an understatement. As Jennifer puts it, “She was a model in a former life, and there’s nothing I can do about it.” Jennifer brings Sophie’s distinct personality to life through her photographs and channels her voice through captions.

When people leave negative comments about black cats, she sees it as a teachable moment. But she’s happy to report she also receives comments and messages from people telling her Sophie inspired them to adopt a black cat!

Black cat photographers shut down black cat superstitions

Taking pictures is a good way to capture a cat's personality. Photography ©Erica Danger (@ericalikescats).
Taking pictures is a good way to capture a cat’s personality. Photography ©Erica Danger.

Julia Umansky, manager of client services at the ASPCA Adoption Center says, “A great photo can not only showcase an animal’s personality and playfulness but can motivate potential adopters,” noting a rise in adoption inquiries after fun, new images are posted.

“It’s key for a photograph to speak to people — even more so for black cats because of all the silly myths,” says Lori Fusaro, staff photographer at Best Friends Animal Society (@photolori on Instagram). “I make sure their ears are up, their eyes are bright and friendly … and they are making contact with the lens so when potential adopters see the photo, it’s like they’re looking right at them.”

Cat mom Erica Danger (@ericalikescats on Instagram), Lori’s photography assistant, has had a soft spot for black cats since her first black rescue cat, Banjo. In addition to her work at Best Friends, she photographs cats in foster care and at cat cafes to help them get adopted. “If a cat is playful, I get a good shot of him in action to capture that side of his personality.”

Nonprofits like Lulu’s Locker shut down black cat superstitions

Co-founded by Dawn Isenhart-Copp, Lulu’s Locker Rescue, is a volunteer-run nonprofit in the Chicago area working to help overlooked and often misunderstood animals — like black cats — get adopted.

The group has a wide network of foster homes as well as a small adoption area that’s set up like a home with a kitchen and bathroom. This allows potential adopters to interact with the cats and get a sense of their personalities and how they behave in a real-world setting. This can be particularly helpful for black cats.

Dawn recounts the story of one couple who came in to see a specific cat but ended up adopting a black cat named Tilly, “Because she was more the personality they were looking for. She went right up to them and snuggled.”

Books like All Black Cats Are Not Alike shut down black cat superstitions

All Black Cats Are Not Alike by Amy Goldwasser. Photography ©Chronicle Books.
All Black Cats Are Not Alike by Amy Goldwasser. Photography ©Chronicle Books.

A book by writer Amy Goldwasser and her husband, illustrator Peter Arkle, take black cat stereotypes head-on. The couple, “Decided it was time for the first lovingly hand-drawn, hand-lettered tribute to the wild range of personality, charisma and character of 50 highly individual all-black cats.” Included in the book is the couple’s former cat, Sonny, and his successor, Mimi.

Through his illustrations, Peter adeptly highlights distinguishing details of each cat, from their fur’s distinct hue to face shape, eye color, expression and the errant white whisker. Amy further reinforces the individuality of these ebony-furred felines.

“We both believe the humor lies in the specifics: For example, it’s a funnier, more special, more memorable, more loving portrait to know that this particular ABC [All Black Cat] is into butter or the cable box or the ice maker than it is if they’re into mice or catnip.”

Besides being an entertaining read with frame-worthy artwork, the book leaves no doubt that black cats are incredible characters with a wide range of looks and personalities.

So what can you do to help shut down black cat superstitions?

  1. Bring some magic into a black cat’s life, and adopt or foster one. Nothing’s cooler than having a mini house panther!
  2. Support rescue groups that focus on helping black cats, like Black Cat Rescue and Lulu’s Locker Rescue.
  3. Volunteer at a local shelter by taking photographs or writing descriptions for black cats to bring their distinct personalities to life.
  4. Post photos of your black cats on social media, and tell everyone how amazing and unique they are!

Tamar Arslanian resides in New York City with her two rescue cats, Kip and Haddie. She is the founder of IHaveCat.com and author of HarperCollins’ Shop Cats of New York, a Cat Writers’ Association Muse Medallion winner. Find her on Instagram and Facebook at @ihavecat and @shopcatsofnewyork.

Thumbnail: Photography ©Best Friends Animal Society/Lori Fusaro.

Editor’s note: This article appeared in Catster magazine. Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Catster magazine delivered straight to you

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13 thoughts on “Shutting Down Black Cat Superstitions”

  1. Pingback: What’s Mew at Catster: November 2019 Cat Events – Info Body

  2. You neglected to mention that Black Cat Awareness Month is an official holiday created by Layla Morgan Wilde of Cat Wisdom 101. Her book Black Cats Tell All:True Tales And Inspiring Images features photos of Sophie the Model and Erica Danger.

  3. Black cats are the hearts of all cats.

    I have a tabby. Her name is Cherry. We gave her brother to grandma and he got driven over by a car (probably). Our grandma missed a cat, although before she didn’t want even the tabby. On our street, one of our neighbors said one other neighbor had kittens. We went there, and they told us the cat wasn’t even theirs, but they were helping her.
    We got a black kitten. I named him May. I held him and calmed him down while being in the car. We gave him to my grandma. He was startled and shy at first, but…

    1 week later. My grandparents love him. He wonders around and goes around me as if I was his mom.

    2 weeks later. I thought my cat was the nicest. He is the nicest. The opposite of cold and shy, he is the best companion for anything. He lets anyone hold him, never runs away from anyone, purrs very therapeutically and plays like a kitty.

    1 month later. My family came over, and now everybody wants a cat. Some say they will come more to see May.

    2 months later. Writing this. May found a companion tabby kitty from neighborhood and plays with him, sleeps with him (the neighbors are angry because their kitty is less with them and more with May). May interests even other cats. There are houses being built the next house. The owners with children came over to see how the workers are doing. The first thing they do is pet May, who purrs like a tractor although they don’t know each other.

    Black cats are the hearts of all cats.

    Black cats are the bright side.

  4. I have a very sweet solid black cat named Avi. He was a stray that chose my husband and me to be his parents. He has a beautiful personality. We love him dearly.

  5. I have a huge(28 Lbs) black Maine Coon. He is long-haired with just a small white spot on his chest. His fur turns red in the sunlight also. He was 10 years old when I adopted him from the Dumb Friends League in Denver, CO about 5 years ago. I have never had a cat so loving and wanting to snuggle. He had been in the shelter for over 6 months because he was black and was 10 years old. I just fell in love with him immediately. I feel that I found a true friend when I found him and I am so glad that he is with me now.

  6. I found a black cat with white paws and bib, I had saw him on my street going from one house to another ,I feel fast and deeply rooted n LOVE, I asked if he belonged to anyone , he didn . So not of joys he is mine !!!

  7. Caroline Piggott

    I had two black cats from their birth until the second one dies last week.The unlucky thing I found was taht they both dies too soon

  8. I also have a black cat, I found him on the streets and have had him for almost a year now. He is the sweetest and craziest guy youll ever find. He is pure black with a couple of really small half white patches on his chest and stomach. I believe he is a purebred Bombay cat and because of his relation to the burmese he has white spots. Unlike some cats he is very attention seeking, who said cats were independent?

    For more information on Midnight go to catster community and search midnight bombay, or introducing Midnight

  9. I believe that to adopt a black cat not only doing it a favour you doing yourself one to I own 4 cats one is jet black and he is the most loving beautiful little guy don’t take my word for it adopt one for yourself it’s a true saying once you go black you won’t go back ????

  10. We have 3 cats right now and, although I would love to adopt a black cat, my wife, who takes care of the cat box, says 3 is enough and no more. I wasn’t aware until recently that black cats have trouble finding homes. If I live long enough to adopt another cat, I’ll sure look for a black one!

  11. Our cat, Micro, is not only black, but in sunlight, he has red highlights. Our vet told us that means he is a true black cat. He is solid black except for a tiny light gray triangle under his mouth. I call that his “soul patch”.

    Not to be outdone by normal black cats, (or any other color), both he and one litter mate were born with “impacted” tails. Both cats have tails that are only about two inches long. However, unlike some breeds of dogs who have their tails clipped short, (why?), there seems to be a complete, if not in length, tail. When he gets excited, his entire tail will puff out making him look like a rabbit. Other then that, he is quite normal and friendly. He is the original “Curious Cat”. Any noise, or if someone comes to the door, he’s there to smell them.

    1. Actually, a “true black cat” will NOT have any other colors in his fur…aka, if they have red highlights, they aren’t a true black.

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