Why Black Cats are Voids

Caitlin Dempsey


Two pictures of a black cat take in different lighting.

Black cats are a notoriously hard feline to photograph. Without the right lighting and contrast, many of the features of a black cat simply blend together and become indistinguishable in photos.

With all black features from their fur to their lips and ears (even their skin is black), black cats don’t have the patterns and skin tone of other cats that make their features stand out.

This effect becomes even more pronounced when a black cat is in the shadows or up against a dark background. The blending extends out towards the shadows and not even the outline of the cat is visible.

Two pictures of a black cat take in different lighting.
Lighting and the right contrast can make all the difference in whether or not a black cat’s features photograph well or end up blending together. Photos: Caitlin Dempsey.

People affectionately call their black cats voids because of this phenomena of two bright eyes peering out from a pool of darkness. All kinds of internet memes have spawned from showing black cats as voids.

Black cat with yellow eyes isolated on black background.
Black cats disappear against dark background. Photo: © aurency/stock.adobe.com.

Those feline eyeballs staring out at you from your laundry hamper? Void. The black cat sleeping under your bed? Void.

Black cats blend with night,
Voids in shadows they become,
Darkness holds them tight.

That ability to blend in with their surroundings is one reason why black cats love to lie on black things.

A black cat lying on a black bag on a wooden floor in front of a bookcase with a cat tree in the background.
The right lighting is needed in order to see the contrast on a black cat and to make out the cat’s features. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.


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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey holds both a master's in Geography from UCLA and a Master of Library and Information Science. She is the editor of Geographyrealm.com and an avid researcher of geography and feline topics. A lifelong cat owner, Caitlin currently has three rescued cats: an orange tabby, a gray tabby, and a black cat.