Homeless Black Cats Said to Suffer From Poor Selfie-Image

RSPCA claims demand for the dark felines has decreased in the digital age.

ByABC News
July 30, 2014, 2:04 PM
Roc, 12, is available for adoption at the ASPCA adoption center and apparently camera-ready.
Roc, 12, is available for adoption at the ASPCA adoption center and apparently camera-ready.
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

— -- As if black cats don’t have it hard enough.

After being spurned as symbols of bad luck and impending doom for centuries, the felines are now being accused of compromising social media standings, at least according to a feature published in the Telegraph this morning.

The paper reports that animal shelters in the United Kingdom are teeming with a growing population of black cats, a statistic that the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) attributes to "a number of reasons ... ranging from the fact that black cats are harder to tell apart than cats with more distinctive markings and the fact that black animals tend not to photograph as well."

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Over 70 percent of the more than 1,000 cats in shelters are black or black and white and a recent media release issued by the RSPCA urged prospective pet owners "to look beyond the 'selfie' and be selfless for animals," according to the RSPCA.

A press officer for the society confirmed to ABC News via email that "it is fair to say that black cats do not photograph as well and perhaps that is why they sometimes get overlooked on websites."

But while black cats may struggle for the spotlight in Britain, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) retorts that they do not face the same discrimination in the United States, a historic haven for scrappy upstarts.

"We don't necessarily think that black cats are harder to adopt or that people don't want to adopt them," said Dr. Emily Weiss, vice president of shelter research and development at the ASPCA.

Indeed, Weiss said, data compiled by the ASPCA suggests that "there are more black cats being adopted than any other color of cat by far."

"The genes that code for black [fur] are dominant genes," she explained. "There are simply more black cats coming in the door, which will make it look like those cats aren't getting adopted."

Christie Keith, the social media manager at Maddie's Fund, the Pet Rescue Foundation and the Shelter Pet Project, conceded that "it's certainly true that black pets are more challenging to photograph," but she, too, confirmed that "it's not true that they're less popular."

"With the rise of social media and the number of people posting 'selfies' with their pets, yes, it's something to think about," Keith said.

Still, she asserted that great photos of darker dogs and cats are possible.

Keith advised owners and shelters to take spontaneous videos or continuous images of pets in natural light and at or just below eye level to maximize the possibility of dynamic, personality-driven pictures.

"I think that as a hangover from the days of darkrooms and film, we tend to just stand there and wait for a pet to look great," Keith said. "Instead, just get the pet's attention and let the pictures roll."

Professional pet photographer Jim Dratfield, who founded Petography, Inc. in 1993 and published “Underdogs: Beauty is More Than Fur Deep” in 2002, expressed his view that black cats are no less attractive than their tawnier peers.

"I don't believe there is such a thing as an un-photogenic animal," he said.

Convinced? To snap up a black cat of your own, visit the ASPCA's website.