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Black cats are "beautiful" says Biggin Hill volunteer

PUBLISHED: 16:30 01 August 2014 | UPDATED: 16:30 01 August 2014

Picture: PA/Johnny Green

Picture: PA/Johnny Green

PA Archive/Press Association Images

There was a time when black cats were treated with suspicion, associated with witches and killed en masse throughout the Middle Ages.

Now, in the age of the “selfie” and social media, the felines are facing new challenges.

They are being overlooked in favour of their more colourful companions, with tabby, ginger and tortoise shell cats remaining much more popular and being rehomed more quickly.

The RSPCA have said that 70 per cent of the 1,000 abandoned cats in its care are black, and that there has been a rise in the number of them being abandoned by their owners.

Reports have suggested that the growing number of cat photos posted on to social media could play a part in the blame, with black cats not showing up as well as others with more prominent markings and therefore facing rejection.

Lisa Steward, from Foal Farm Rescue Centre in Biggin Hill, thinks people should look past the animal’s colour and focus instead on their characteristics.

“Black cats are generally looked upon as unlucky and they are overlooked,” she said.

“We do try and work with people to say, it’s not what the colour of a cat is [that’s important] it’s their characters.

“If there’s 8 kittens you can guarantee the ones that will be left will be the black ones.

“People are attracted to the unusual colours.

“I think people are just naïve. The colours are immaterial.”

Lisa said that the interest in more unusual looking cats can sometimes have a detrimental effect.

After recently posting a photo of a cat with unique markings to the Foal Farm Facebook page, the centre was quickly inundated with so many requests that the picture had to be deleted 24 hours later.

“Everyone wanted her and they ‘loved her’. They hadn’t even met her. They fell in love with what the cat looked like,” Lisa explained.

Some of the people professing interest had failed to read the description accompanying the cat’s photograph, so they were not paying attention to whether or not they would be suitable owners for her because they were so fixated with the cat’s appearance.

“The cat shouldn’t have to fit in with you, you should fit in with the cat.

“We have to be strict with ourselves that we are doing the right thing for the animal.

“I think it’s all a designer thing and people are trying to impress people sometimes.”

There are a number of black and black and white cats at Foal Farm currently, such as 7-year-old Aladdin and 14-year-old Puss Cat.

“I think black cats are beautiful,” Lisa said.

“I don’t have to worry about what colour they are and I know they are going to be here until we find a suitable home for them.

“It’s a terrible strain for most rescue centres, we are always inundated.

“The colour’s not the issue.

“They are all beautiful, they are living things.”

Hayley Plows, a RSPCA Welfare Officer based in South East London, said: “Colonies of ferals and strays in my own experience this year as a welfare officer have been at a rough guess 85% black or black and white, I unfortunately do not think this is by pure coincidence.

“I’ll often find that if when I arrive at a job the cats/kittens concerned are ‘pretty colours’ that they have found homes with neighbours/finders/feeders and the black ones are the ones left for the RSPCA to rescue and rehome.

“Strangely some of the nicest cats we’ve had have been some of those who have had the hardest start in life, it should be the opposite way around but for some unknown reason they seem to have not lost faith in our kind!”

To find out more about Foal Farm and the cats they have please visit foalfarm.org.uk or go to RSPCA Pet Search to look for cats in your area.

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