While eager comic book fans line up for Marvel’s latest installment in the blockbuster cinematic universe, one local theater is planning on putting a few other felines in the spotlight. From noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17, six kittens and one adult cat from Operation Kindness will be in the lobby of Alamo Drafthouse Richardson, eagerly awaiting their new cat moms or dads.
“It’s basically a promotion for Black Panther,” Daniel Wallace, a manager at Alamo Drafthouse Richardson, says. “We’re [also] giving away two free tickets to anyone who adopts one.”
It was originally organized as an adoption event for black cats, but Sandra Laird, director of community adoption events for Operation Kindness said the shelter did not have enough black cats on hand to fulfill the theater’s request. She also says the color of the cat is less important than one may think.
“There is nothing prettier than a sleek, shiny black-coated kitten,” Laird wrote in an email to the Dallas Observer. “If the kitten is long haired or has what they call a plush coat, it will get adopted very quickly. The short coated kittens will sometimes stay longer in the shelter. We are doing very well getting our kittens adopted, regardless of the color.”
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for all shelters. The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that more than 3 million cats enter shelters and more than 850,000 are euthanized every year. Black cats and dogs are thought to be disproportionately euthanized or left in shelters, compared to animals of other colors, an anecdotal theory which dubbed the “black dog syndrome.”
A 2013 study of two animal shelters in Colorado, published in The Open Veterinary Science Journal, found that regardless of sex or age, black cats take the longest time to adopt. A study of shelters in California from 2002 found that pure black cats were far less likely to be adopted than other cats, with only brown cats being slightly less popular among adopters. However, without a central organization set up to compile animal shelter statistics, finding exact numbers of black cats or dogs in shelters is difficult.
Furthermore, Emily Weiss, ASPCA vice president, found that out of 65 shelters housing more than 185,000 cats, black cats were found to make up the largest percent of total cats entering shelters from 2015-16. This data points to black cats being more common in general and not necessarily less desirable to prospective adopters. More than a quarter of the cats listed for adoption on Operation Kindness’ website are either pure black or black and white, and Laird confirmed that black cats are more common at the shelter in general.
“I don’t think black cats are any harder to adopt than any other color,” Laird says. “The issue is that black is a dominant color and there are more black cats being born than other colors. We get more black cats in the shelter.”
The representation of black cats in shelters and the number of black cats being adopted likely varies from state to state and shelter to shelter. But the higher number of black cats in shelters overall is still an important factor to consider. Whether superstition has anything to do with these numbers is anyone’s guess.