Protecting Black Cats Near Halloween

6 years ago

While volunteering in a local animal shelter, I was chatting with a staff member and sharing a theory I've long entertained. "I'll bet humans wouldn't have such a problem with racism if we were born like kittens, in big litters - some with stripes, some with spots and some in solid colors - everyone with unique markings."

"Sorry to burst your peaceful bubble," said the seasoned shelter worker, "but even the cat world, the black ones have a hard time." I was shocked and offended by her crass statement until I began realizing how many shelter residents were black kitties. Long-held superstitions about black cats being incarnations of evil still persist and shelters nationwide often have a difficult time placing them. Furthermore, many shelters fear the cats will become victims of torture and abuse and simply disallow black cat adoptions during the Halloween season, a tactic that causes disagreement among animal lovers.


 Although all cats should be indoor cats, this is even more important during the month of October -- especially if you have a black cat. Black cats are often associated with dark forces and are an easy target for Halloween pranksters who commit violent acts against unsuspecting kitties. --PETA Prime Blog

My late feline buddy, Simone, was all black. She'd been rescued by some friends who'd already rescued three cats - two of them black - and could handle no more. Feisty and feral, I took her on until she transformed into a happy, loving lady of leisure - though I lost some blood and skin in those early years. Come Halloween time, I'd joke that my decoration efforts consisted of placing her in the window:  "Done!" It was my good luck that she crossed my path.

In a few days, I will be living with Boudreaux, another rescued black kitty with a messed up ear and a strict gender policy. (He won't hesitate to scratch or bite men during 'play' but will only kiss and lick women. What a flirt!) Again, I feel blessed with feline friendship and like the Brits and the Scots, I tend to believe black cats symbolize good luck.

But autumn is a tough time for the darkest felines here in the U.S. Nearly every website I visited for animal shelters and national animal organizations offered warnings to the owners of black cats to take extra care this season. For this, we have the Druids to thank, who, more than 2,000 years ago, initially perpetuated the belief that evil spirits often transformed into black cats and should be sacrificed accordingly. (This had the unintended consequence of increasing the rat population and spreading the Black Plague so that karmic payback was quite the bitch.)

During Medieval times, the Church perpetuated the myth that black cats were Satan's pet of choice as well as 'familiars,' a conduit that witches used to communicate with the spirit world. These ancient beliefs were supported in the Western world by black cat appearances alongside sexy witches like Samantha Stevens (Lucinda) and Sabrina (Salem). Hmmm, I did have a kid at an airport tell me one time, "I know you're a witch." This is starting to make sense. And then there's that whole episode at Shea Stadium in 1969 when a black cat was released onto the field and immediately set about placing an effective curse on the Chicago Cubs, dooming their season. Let's not forget the 1934 horror flick, "The Black Cat", and Roger Corman's famous casting call for black cats to use in his 1962 film, "Tales of Terror." (How does a cat audition, exactly?) Even today, the image of a black cat has become standard Halloween decor.

All this has led to a widespread belief that black cats are still abducted during Halloween season and used for animal sacrifice, decoration and general abuse. Although I could not find any hard evidence (lots of anecdotal stuff) to support these fears, animal shelters across the country have adopted guidelines to protect these sleek black cats. As a result, it may be difficult to adopt an all-black kitty over Halloween weekend lest those pesky Satan worshipers get a hold of him.

 In most shelters, black cats are the last to be adopted, so saddling them with the additional baggage of taking them off the adoption roles for up to a month or more before Halloween makes no sense. Black cats and all cats in shelters have much more to fear when it comes to not getting out of shelters at all. The overwhelming majority of pets dying in shelters today are cats. --Francis Battista, Best Friends Animal Society blog

I called my local century-old animal shelter, Dumb Friends League, and was told they do not have ban on black kitty adoptions around Halloween. That's because they already have a very thorough interview process for potential owners. (I can attest to this.)

"Although we are dire need of homes for these pets, we would never hand over an animal to anyone we thought didn't have that animal's best interest at heart," said a nice woman named Diane. Also, most Satanists I know wouldn't bother with an extensive background check and an adoption fee. Evil people are usually pretty cheap, in my experience.

 Have you ever tried to adopt a black cat from a shelter in October? Good luck. Most shelters have learned that letting black cats be adopted anywhere near Halloween leads to bad consequences – the cat is used for Halloween parties and returned, or worse, abused. --Melissa R., Doctors Foster and Smith Pet Blog

Animal shelters in West Palm Beach, Florida have stopped all black cat adoptions this year, worried that folks will want the cats just for Halloween decorations, similar to the baby bunny and chick problem at Easter. (The city also bans adoptions on Friday the 13th, for the same reason.) Karen Buchanan of Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control has stated: "There are satanic sacrificial rituals that still exist in our country and around the world." Still this perpetuated fear - real or imagined - has some animal lovers reeling:  

We are promoting cats on Halloween for $31 and black cats for $13. People started telling us all about the Satanic cults out there that adopt to kill the animals. Many shelters won’t adopt out cats at ALL during the ENTIRE MONTH OF OCTOBER!! I want to shake these people …These sort of archaic policies need to be put to bed and left there. --Kerry, Pets Alive Blog

There's enough concern out there that PETA's popular SNIP program ("Spay and Neuter Immediately, Please!") is offering free spay-and-neuter surgeries to black kittens on the Friday before Halloween.

Just to be safe, I'd keep all the pets indoors, at least until all the black and orange decorations become green and red.


BlogHer Contributing Editor, Animal & Wildlife Concerns, Proprietor, ClizBiz

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