Meet my black cat, Sage! His favourite activities are catching flies, going on adventures with next doors’ Tabby and sleeping on the windowsill.

Other than occasionally keeping the neighbouring cats out past their bedtime, he is most definitely not bad luck; but not everyone thinks so. Black cats are the least likely to be adopted, according to Cats Protection charity, 40% of the cats they receive are black and they can take 13% longer to be adopted than their light-furred counterparts. Why is this and what PR lessons can we learn from the public opinion of black cats?


Control the narrative

In the Medieval period, Pagan witches believed in the power of nature, plants and animals. As Christianity progressed through Europe, many Pagan ways were outlawed and witches persecuted, and that included their authority avoiding, cat companions. In the Middle Ages the Pope issued a document stating that black cats were an incarnation of Satan. From there it’s no wonder that a black cat crossing your path was seen as bad luck (maybe it’s Satan or witches familiar on an evil mission).

What we can learn: 800 years later and the intrinsic link between black cats, superstition and bad luck is often cited as a reason they are still less likely to be adopted. If only black cats had had some crisis management PR to help repair their image. It’s clear to see the importance of being able to control the narrative and how a negative public opinion can do long-lasting brand damage if not managed quickly and effectively.


Importance of perception

Another reason for black cats being less frequently adopted is often said to be because they are less photogenic.

What we can learn: In a world of Instagram and social media, the importance of how you appear online is ever more important. Doing what the black cat can’t: being seen positively online, across the media and on social media is invaluable to help your brand reach its business goals.


Empathy and understanding

Black cats are often perceived as being more aggressive and less friendly. It’s believed this is because it’s harder to read their expressions and so humans can find it harder to connect with them.

What we can learn: Whatever your goals, audience, or PR strategy, it’s important to remember that it’s a person connecting with your messaging rather than a faceless audience. Who are you targeting and what is important to them? PR can help find a way to connect with your customers – more successfully than the unlucky black cat.