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Black Cats and Halloween: A Scary Mix

by Victoria Heuer


Let’s face it, black cats have had a bad rap for a long time. In some countries they are believed to have the magical ability to portend bad luck and death, which has led to them being neglected and abused by less than enlightened people.


Of course not all countries toe that line, though the black cat retains its magical abilities in Britain, Japan, and Scotland, where black cats are a symbol of good luck and prosperity; sailors of old preferred their "ship's cat" to be black for the same reason.


Negative superstitions have changed for the better in most places, but black cats are still irrevocably linked to that darkest of holidays, Halloween. It's no wonder then that shelters take extra precautions when adopting out black cats during the month of October, especially in the weeks leading to Halloween. But the better question is whether they should still worry.


“We used to have a policy where we didn’t adopt out black cats during the month of October, but we have since canceled that policy,” said Laurie Hoffman at the Humane Society of Greater Miami. “We take normal precautions with all our adoptions.”


Karen Buchan at the Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control sees it a little bit differently.


“The bottom line is, we are trying to avoid any situation that may put a black cat into an unsafe environment,” Buchan said. “There are satanic sacrificial rituals that still exist in our country and around the world.”


Concrete statistics on black cat torture during October are lacking. In fact, many stories we hear are probably hearsay. The problem remains that these stories and the situations surrounding them can be self-fulfilling. Cruel or naïve people, especially young people, may hear stories of the ritual Satanic abuse of black cats and then go on to inflict harm on these defenseless creatures.


So if you happen to run across a similar ban on adopting black cats this holiday season, don't become frustrated or upset. Shelter managers think of it as a better-safe-than-sorry policy. And who are we to complain about erring on the side of animal safety? They'll still be there, waiting for you to give them a forever home in November.




Comments  9

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  • It's not "tow the line"
    11/22/2013 11:22pm

    It's TOE the line. The cliche always means to follow a rule--a line, if you will.

    Conformity doesn't come from hauling a line, which tow would mean, but from toes staying on the proper side of a line, real or imaginary. The best analogy is that of bowlers staying behind the line on the lane. If your toes cross that line, you get a foul. If your toes stay behind it, no matter how close you get to it, you're conforming to the rules of the game--i.e., TOEing the line.

    Sheesh, this is grade school English.

  • 11/25/2013 01:09am

    Thanks for the correction, Aquaria. This phrase was not covered in my grade school and we were not required to place our toes on a line at any point, so I have never been familiar with the phrase. However, I do live near waterways, and I made the common assumption that it was to "tow" a line, as in towing a boat or ship. Of course, in retrospect, towing a boat has nothing to do with conformity.

    I am always glad to be corrected and to learn something new. Thanks for taking the time to leave the comment. :)

  • 10/27/2015 08:52am

    Way to be so professional in responding to the grammar police. Props to you. If it makes you feel better- I didn't learn that in grade-school either :)

  • 03/12/2016 07:45pm

    I have had 2 black cats for almost 13 years now. Seven of them were dumped around our country home and they all made it to our house. We tried to catch them when we first saw them, but they were too fast for us. I put out soft food and water because they appeared to be less than 6 weeks old. We would try something different the next morning. Sadly, the neighbor up the hill from us had 2 hunting dogs that he didn't cage or bring inside at night. They killed one of the little kittens before I could get out there at 3 am. But I did scare them off. The next morning we brought out a cat wand with a long tail. While I played with them, hubby caught them and put them in our cat cage. We couldn't figure out why we were catching so many black cats. Then we found out that they were so small that they were just climbing through the wire supports. We then caught them and took them into our empty garage where they couldn't get out. We made beds in the carrier and just left the door open. So fun seeing so many black kittens playing and happy. We found homes for all but one that I wanted to keep. A month later a black cat showed up at our door went right in through the cat door and headed for the cat food. We suspect one of the homes we found had dumped him at our house knowing we would keep him. That is the way Boston Blackie and Maggie Mae found a forever home with us. We also have a 23 year old yellow cat, Sunshine, that we have had for 21 years.

  • 03/12/2016 08:27pm

    Good job!!! You're wonderful people to save so many lives. Give 'em all hugs for us. And Sunshine, too

  • 03/13/2016 10:19am

    Bless you for saving all those kittens. It's a shame your neighbors don't control their dogs! You must be a wonderful catlady to have cats that live to such a ripe old age! Keep up the great work! Many of the cats we have show up on our deck looking for something to eat. I put out a have a heart trap. They become members of our family. At times, we have too many--money only goes so far. When that happens, I bring them to a beautiful no kill shelter in our town. They are wonderful people that are very particular about who adopts from them. I have told them that if I were a stray and someone brought me in, I would hope that no one adopts me so I could spend the rest of my life there. It's like a country club for cats! They get regular veterinary care and quality cat food. It breaks my heart that I can't keep them all.

  • Excellent Article
    10/28/2015 07:32pm

    Very good article. Nice background on kitty history

    I always believe in erring on the side of caution ( I hope I said that correctly). As a person who has two decades of assisting in animal cruelty investigations, we do see black cats vanish, and killed around this time of year, probably, as you pointed out, by hard-core worshipers, and what I call idiot devil-wannabes.

    Many shelters want to adopt black cats out if they can, as they have a low re-homing rate :( But the person who's looking to re-home their own cat has got to be very careful who they deal with.

    I've had two house panthers, and would love another.

  • black beauties
    03/11/2016 08:14am

    My husband and I share our home with 8 rescued cats and a rescued dog. Four of those cats are black. A couple have a tiny bit of white. One of them looks very much like the picture in this article. They are all very loving, friendly cats. They get along great with each other and all of the other cats. They even get along with the dog--not always easy--he's a very energetic Jack Russell. All of the superstition about black cats is hooey as far as I'm concerned. I hope this myth will end and all of these black beauties will find loving forever homes.