Coat Color and Cat Outcomes in an Urban U.S. Shelter
Department of Sociology, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292, USA
Department of Sociology, Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY 40205, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 August 2020 / Revised: 17 September 2020 / Accepted: 21 September 2020 / Published: 23 September 2020
There is continuing debate as to whether individuals prefer companion cats of varying coat colors, and if so, how color preferences may affect whether cats in shelters are euthanized, adopted, or transferred to another organization. This study analyzed outcomes for nearly 8000 cats admitted to an urban public shelter in Kentucky, USA from 2010 through 2011. While coat color overall was not an important predictor of cat outcomes, a tiered pattern among particular colors was detected. Specifically, black and white cats experienced the highest and lowest chances of euthanasia, respectively, while brown and gray cats experienced more middling chances. Orange cats’ relative chances of euthanasia were more difficult to gauge, but orange and white cats had similar euthanasia and adoption outcomes in the most nuanced model. In addition, there has been persistent speculation that the public’s interest in—and preference for—black cats might spike before Halloween due to cats’ associations with the holiday. However, the present study found that a subsample of more than 1200 entirely black cats did not experience improved chances of adoption or transfer to a rescue organization in October compared to other months. Overall, this study provides weak evidence for what has been termed “Black Cat Bias” by others, and hints that black cats in public shelters should receive extra consideration for rehoming.