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Black Cats and Halloween

Halloween will be here soon, and that means many shelters will not adopt out black cats. Sounds crazy? I thought so too. However, when I wrote about Black Dog Syndrome, many of the shelter workers I interviewed told me that from mid October to just past Halloween, the black cats that are up for adoption are not released to the public.

I mentioned in my Black Dog Syndrome story, that at first I thought all of this was a hoax. It just sounded too ridiculous to be true. Unfortunately Black Dog Syndrome does exist, and so does Black Cat Syndrome. I interviewed Dusty Rainbolt, vice president of the Cat Writers Association and author of Cat Wrangling Made Easy.

Following is my discussion with Dusty about black cats and Black Cat Syndrome:

Pet News and Views (PNAV): Are black cats popular or do people avoid them?
Dusty Rainbolt: In most parts of the world black cats are considered good luck. In the U.S., Spain, and Belgium they are considered bad luck. Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “There is nothing to fear, but fear itself.” Black cats are like that. There’s nothing fearful or evil about them, except what we harbor in our minds. Black cats are actually lucky in one very real sense. Recent genetic research has shown that the same mutation that gives the black cat his coat also makes him more resistant to disease. That’s lucky in my book.

PNAV: Where are black cats thought of as good luck?
Dusty: They love black cats in Great Britain, Australia, and Japan. In the 18th century, English ships wouldn’t leave port without the ship’s black cat. He controlled the weather and provided good luck and protection. Anyone who threw the ship’s cat overboard would be flogged at the very least–possibly even executed. They took their black cat lucky charm very seriously.

PNAV: Why don’t shelters adopt out black cats around Halloween?
Dusty: Black cats are tortured and mistreated by pranksters and some people involved in the occult. While black cats are the target, no cat is really safe.

PNAV: What evidence is there that black cats are harmed this time of year?
Dusty: I’ve interviewed police departments in my area and yes, there is a higher incidence of torture and killing of cats at this time of year. They didn’t say whether it was related to the occult or maliciousness. It doesn’t matter. The cats died horrible deaths. If you love your cat, keep him inside year round, but especially around Halloween.

This was Gigs, my black cat. I always thought black cats were lucky.

PNAV: I know black cats are tied to superstitions. Do you know why this occurs or where it started?
Dusty: Cats are endowed with elliptical pupils, which allow cats to see better during the night. They also hear much higher pitches than humans do. Some people judge this to be supernatural.

PNAV: What precautions should we take on or around Halloween with our black cats?
Dusty: Keep all kitties inside. On Halloween night, go one step further and lock him in a room so he doesn’t escape while you pass out candy.

Last Day of Iams Bags 4 Bowls Contest
Today is the last day to comment about your rescued pet. If you adopted your pet from a shelter or rescue, please go to the Feed Shelter Cats and Dogs Contest post and leave a comment there. The last day to post is October 25. For each comment, Iams will donate 25 bowls of food to an animal shelter.

If you want to comment about black cats, leave a comment after this post. Thanks, and have a safe and happy Halloween–Michele

5 comments to Black Cats and Halloween

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  • Marie-Anne Duhem

    Over the years I’ve had many cats, amongst which black cats as well. Human stupidity will never cease to baffle me… Black cats supposedly are of the devil, unless… they have a few white hairs (which most of them have)because then they’ve been touched by an angel…
    In Medieval times cats being associated with witches, a lot of them were killed in the Netherlands, however now, Halloween not being a celebration inherent to our culture, fortunately, kitties are much safer now!

  • It is true alot of rescue groups like ours, do not adopt out black cats,kittens, or black dogs or puppies.
    It is terrible what people will do to the animals.
    But during the year, we see so many abused dogs/cats of all colors and breeds, burned or beaten.
    I don’t understand how people can kill an innocent animal.

  • It is good to hear that black cats are healthy! My daughter just adopted one from the Toronto Humane Society and just loves him to bits! She says that he is super affectionate and cudly! The people at the shelter did mention that black cats are harder to adopt out! What a shame!

  • Love all animals, black kitties too. There are a lot of whackos in the world who don’t deserve a pet rock let alone the responsibility of a pet. I am glad for this blog and great interviews like this, Michele.