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Helping Black Cats
We at startseeingblackdogs.com never realized the plight that faces black shelter cats -- that is, until we started receiving a mountain of e-mail pleading with us to include some PR and marketing just for cats. If we had a dime for every black cat e-mail we've received ... well, you get the picture.
Although cats are not the focus of our website, the Black Dog Crew loves kitties too! The truth is that black cats are also very often overlooked when it comes to adoption and also euthanised in large numbers. This appears to be happening for many of the same reasons that black shelter dogs are overlooked by potential adopters:
•They are challenging to photograph; if not done effectively, photos won’t show up as well in online searches such as Petfinder.
•They may be overlooked on adoption days because they are not as eye-catching in color as, say a showy marmalade cat.
•In a shelter environment they may “disappear” in their kennel area if it is not well lit.
•Of course there are “bad luck” myths perpetuated by the old superstition that a black cat crossing your path results in “seven years of bad luck.” Whoever came up with that superstition was surely not a friend of the black cat!
People Love to Help the "Undercat!"
As with black dogs, the public likely simply does not realize that black cats face similar steep odds when it comes to being adopted. According to a Seattle Times article Black cats unlucky at shelters: “A 2002 study in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science that examined adoption rates over nine months in a California pound found that black cats were about half as likely to be adopted as tabby cats and two-thirds less likely than white cats.”
What Can I do to increase adoptions?
•Promote them. Highlight your cats through marketing. Plan special black cat promotions throughout the year to increase adoptions and raise awareness. Consider a “Black Cat Adoption Month”. Promote the event on your website, through social networking such as Facebook and Twitter, in your newsletter and through the local media.
According to Maddie's Fund, promotions which received their coveted Marketing Award Grants resulted in a measureable increase in adoptions:
Chippewa County Animal Control Shelter, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
When 50% of cats were black and getting passed over for more colorful cats, launched a December Lucky Black Cat Special promoting good luck in the New Year. Gave each cat a colorful elastic collar, placed cats in top tier cages, provided prime viewing locations, and found a sponsor to get cats spayed and neutered. Reduced black cat population by 60%."
Kitten Rescue, Los Angeles, CA
Holds a Black Cat Affair along with flyers, posters, signage and publicity. Has become so popular and successful for black cat placements, they now hold the event in two locations.
Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley- Hailey, Idaho
A local art gallery hosts adoption events such as "Black Pearls of the Shelter" where black dogs and cats wear a string of white pearls.
•Educate. Put copies of the article such as the one in The Seattle Times on your adoption day table and let potential adopters know how often black cats are overlooked. Put “Did You Know” cards with information on the low rate of black cat adoptions next to the black cat carriers at your adoption day or in the shelter.
Feature information about the low adoption rates for black cats in your newsletter. People often want to help the “underdog” – or this case the “undercat.”
Also consider offering financial incentives with your promotions. Have fun with it, and use humor to connect with the public.
•Add some “Bling”. We are big advocates of “bedazzling” black dogs awaiting adoption with a little bling to help them stand out. Adding a colorful bandana or vest is a great way to make black dogs get noticed. So what about cats? Brightly colored “Elizabethan” colors or ruffs work well when taking photos or at an adoption day. Have any crafty volunteers? Connect with a few and your black cats will be blinged-out in no time!
•Location, location, location. In a shelter environment consider placing your adult black cats in an area that potential adopters need to walk through to get to the kittens. At an adoption event make sure your black cats are front and center, not placed in an area with poor lighting.
•Blog about it. Whether your rescue group or shelter has a blog or you have your own, you can get the word out about the low adoption rates for black cats. For a great example to get you started, click HERE.
•It’s all in the name. Come up with names for your black cats that will have positive association for families looking to adopt. Pay attention to the names that are most effective. If cats with names such as “Jelly Bean” or “Licorice” start getting adopted at a faster rate, no harm in recycling those names with your other black cats!