Alana here today.
While Crepes is busy dying her fur black and getting my towels all dirty, I’d like to, during this month of Halloween, stop for a moment and consider black cats. In the USA, black cats are often associated with Halloween superstition and witches. They are also the least adopted color of cat, leaving many more of them in shelters. In fact, there are several shelters dedicated just to black cats because of their need for extra help (like this one is Boston, MA.) But was it always this way?
In ancient Egypt, cats were considered sacred, black cats, included. In the USA, it was the Salem witch trials that turned the tide against the favor of our charcoal-coated friends. Cats became associated with witchcraft, and not the good kind of witchcraft either, but the kind that sadly got many innocent people burned at the stake. To this day, any visit to a local retail Halloween section will point out that this prejudice is still alive and well as one notes the numerous black cats with arched backs and bared fangs, many of which are sitting at the foot of a motley looking witch.
In other countries, though, black cats are quite the opposite. For instance:
- In Asia, black cats are considered good luck.
- Great Britain also sees black cats as lucky. Tokens of them are given to brides to bring fortune.
- In Scotland, a black cat arriving at your home brings prosperity.
- Sailors sought out black cats to bring aboard ships for good luck.
- Ancient Egyptian households kept black cats in the hopes of bringing favor onto themselves from the Goddess Bastet.
A quick Google search shows that over the years, many US shelters have suspended adoptions of black cats around Halloween, even though they already have trouble placing them, for fear that they will be adopted as a novelty or decoration and then abandoned. At worst, they fear torture of these animals in the hands of sadistic people who, sadly, do exist in this world and will play pranks on black cats, injuring or killing them, simply for a joke. Is it necessary to completely suspend adoptions for cats that need homes? Perhaps it might be in some areas with high regard for superstition. Or maybe it’s best to increase the screening policies for people looking to adopt black cats around Halloween time. With so many shelters having made the choice to suspend adoptions, it’s likely scaring other shelters into doing the same. Perhaps it’s best that each shelter make the decision on a case by case basis, by judging the current overall culture regarding black cats during any given year, as well as by evaluating their geographical location, and by further evaluating anyone else as individuals. It’s a difficult topic.
Hopefully, we can look forward to a future in the USA where black cats are regarded with reverence, as they once were in ancient times, and as they often still are in other countries, and to a time where black cats at Halloween signify prosperity and joy, rather than evil. At CatInTheFridge.com, we support the adoption of black cats (we have one here and he’s fabulous) and will do our part by spreading the word about their greatness and by trying to rid them of their nefarious superstitions any chance we get. It’s fun to celebrate black cats at Halloween, so we want to do it in the most positive way possible. We plan to showcase a few as bachelors this month, working with shelters who won’t be suspending their adoptions but who will be using care to place them, as they do for all their adoptables. Until we reach our goal of a Good Luck Black Cat, let’s use our best judgement regarding adoptions, and keep our own pets safe during the season by keeping them inside, particularly on Halloween evening. And let’s celebrate the wonderful black cat who, above all else, is simply magical. #magicats
PS. If you love black cats, visit House Panthers, a club for black cat enthusiasts! Niles is a distinguished member!