Some animal shelters will put a freeze on the adoption of black cats.

Credit: Square Dog Photography

Zack Sunderman, a sociologist in New York, first met his black cat Stella at a shelter located in his hometown in Ohio. The shelter had so many cats that needed homes, and Sunderman had wanted to take home an older cat (who also have low adoption rates) when a black kitten broke away from the other cats. She stopped in front of him, laid down at his feet and rolled around. His heart melted. "I grabbed a volunteer and said, 'I'll be back in one week for this cat. Don't let anyone else adopt this cat!'" he says. "They put her on hold for me while I cleared it with my landlord, and now she's my best friend."

Thanks to Zack, there is one less cat in need of a home. But black cats tend to be misunderstood and sit in animal shelters a little longer than cats with other shades of fur. But why?

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Black cats are being surrendered to animal shelters because they don't show up as well in photos, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Not to mention the fact that black cats tend to have a hard time getting adopted in general. People sometimes associate black cats with evil or bad luck, a superstition that ran rampant during the Salem Witch Trials and continues to this day. You might not be able to adopt a sweet little black cat on Halloween: Some animal shelters will put a freeze on the adoption of black cats around Halloween in an effort to protect the cats from those who might adopt the cat as a Halloween prop, later to be discarded on the streets or even worse.

That doesn't mean that black cats never get adopted or that there is something amiss with black cats. Four of my friends have at least one black cat, and I personally have adopted two black cats when I took in their mother and all of her kittens. It's taken a year to fully gain their trust: they used to hide from me, but now sit next to me and even sleep next to me at night. It takes time and patience, and yes, love to win over rescued animals, but it's worth it.

Animal shelters sometimes give additional incentives for adopting a black cat. Despite the superstition, no animal is imbued with bad luck. Black cats can be just as sweet and affectionate as any other cat, so consider falling in love with a black cat the next time you go to an animal shelter to find a special animal that needs your love and care.

Here, Martha and her cat-loving friend, Anduin Havens, share stories about their own feline friends:


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