Tag: black cats

Why Do Some Shelters Refuse To Adopt Out Black Cats In October?

Life isn’t easy for strays and shelter cats, and black cats have it rougher than most. They’re less likely to find forever homes and more likely to be euthanized than cats with other fur colors and coat patterns.

As if that wasn’t enough of a disadvantage, black cats are particularly vulnerable at this time of year due to their association with Halloween and lore surrounding Satanic rituals.

On the somewhat less tragic end of the spectrum, some people “adopt” black cats as temporary Halloween decorations, using them as accessories for parties or decorative dioramas. When Halloween is over, the “owners” bring the cats back to the shelter.

But rescue groups and advocates say the most unfortunate black kitties end up in the hands of cultists or people reenacting cult rituals. Those rituals never end well for the poor felines.

As a result, some shelters and rescues put black cat adoptions on hold during October.

black cat holding persons arm
Credit: Ruca Souza/Pexels

The origin of the “evil black cat” trope is usually traced back to the 13th century papal decree called Vox in Rama. (“A voice in Ramah.”) Despite sounding like an Arthur C. Clarke short story, the decree was not entertaining — it called for a renewed push to find and punish heretics, and condemned a Satanic ritual that was allegedly performed among hidden cultists:

Afterwards, they sit down to a meal and when they have arisen from it, the certain statue, which is usual in a set of this kind, a black cat descends backwards, with its tail erect. First the novice, then the master, then each one of the order who are worthy and perfect, kiss the cat on its buttocks. Then each [returns] to his place and, speaking certain responses, they incline their heads toward to cat. “Forgive us!” says the master, and the one next to him repeats this, a third responding, “We know, master!” A fourth says “And we must obey.”

Stripped of context, it’s almost comical: A cat walks around and people line up to kiss its ass? Well, they’re just expressing their fealty as servants and vowing not to be tardy with kitty’s meals!

Alas we’re talking about the dark ages, a time when skepticism wasn’t really a thing and zealots were eager to prove their loyalty and value to powerful leaders. One of them, a German nobleman named Konrad von Marburg, had the pope’s ear, and Marburg was the one responsible for whispering to the pontiff about the supposed back cat ass-kissing rituals.

While the papal decree was real and Marburg really was an overzealous jerk who turned public opinion against the church for his brutal inquisition against heretics real and imagined, there’s debate about how much impact the decree ultimately had, and whether a resulting purge of felines from Europe during the Black Plague resulted from superstition or panic as more people got sick. (Serious academic opinion tends strongly toward the latter, particularly because people mistakenly believed cats were carriers of the disease.)

close up shot of a black cat
Credit: Magda Ehlers/Pexels

Clickbait sites have run wild with the Vox in Rama story, which has grown more outrageous with each retelling, resulting in headlines that make it sound like the Vatican dispatched shock troops to purge cats from the European continent and urged Catholics to slaughter them on sight. In reality, the papal bull dealt with a small area in Germany and was little-known even at the time it was issued.

The dozens of clickbait articles that surface at the top of search results for “Vox in Rama” omit the actual text of the papal bull, and many make the unfounded claim that the pope called for cats to be killed.

Was the decree real? Yes. Did it result in the slaughter of cats? Highly unlikely, and there’s no evidence to support that claim.

Likewise, the “evidence” that black cats are abused on Halloween is purely anecdotal as this Snopes story from 20 years ago notes. The fact-checking site called the claims about black cats used in Satanic rituals “inconclusive.”

But individual shelter managers trust their gut — and the many stories about black cats disappearing this time of year — in deciding it’s better to be safe than sorry, which is why many shelters won’t adopt out in October and others are more rigorous with their adoption screening.

There’s nothing wrong with that. As anyone who’s searched for cat news knows, there are disturbing stories about cat abuse every day, and people are sadly capable of incredible cruelty toward animals.

Better for black cats to be taken off the adoptable list for a few weeks than end up in the hands of people who want to do them harm. As cat lovers, there is something we can do: Consider black cats the next time we’re looking to adopt. Plenty of PITB readers have black cats, and they’ll be the first to tell you the little house panthers are just as sweet and amusing as cats of any other fur color.

close up photo of black cat
Credit: Marcelo Chagas/Pexels

Plankton The Cat Has A Home After 2,432 Days In The Shelter

We’d like to offer a special congratulations to the SPCA, two kind-hearted adopters, and especially Plankton the cat for finding a forever home after a long, long wait.

Plankton had a rough start to life: He was one of about 100 kittens and cats rescued from a hoarding situation in a two-bedroom apartment in late 2013 and suffered renal failure. For years, potential pet parents passed up on the handsome black-coated little dude because of his condition, and the thrice-weekly infusion of liquids he needs to stay healthy, even though staff at the shelter say he takes the infusions like a champ.

Ashlee Haughtaling read about Plankton in a Feb. 15 article by the Kingston Daily Freeman, a New York newspaper covering the mostly-rural Ulster County about 75 miles north of New York City.

Haughtaling had a dog who suffered from kidney problems as well, so she knew what caring for Plankton would entail. She reached out to the county SPCA immediately.

“I thought it was so sad that no one was adopting him because he had a medical condition,” she said, per the SPCA. “The fact that he had been there for so long, it really hit home for me. Sick cats need homes, too.”

Ashleey and her mother Ann Houghtaling took Plankton home six days later. For the first time, the 6 1/2-year-old cat has a place to call home. He gets along well with other cats, the shelter said, and he’s got a pair of new feline friends, Nutmeg and Boots, in his new home as well.

planktonspca
Ann and Ashlee Houghtaling comfort Plankton, the newest member of their family, before bringing him home from a shelter where he’d been staying for 6 1/2 years. Credit: Ulster County SPCA

Plankton the Cat
Plankton suffers from kidney problems and must have fluid injections three times a week. Credit: SPCA

 

A Black Cat Didn’t ‘Hex’ The Giants: They Just Stink

It’s been two days since a black cat briefly halted play by dashing onto the field during a nationally-televised football game between the Cowboys and the Giants, and now people are blaming the cat for the Giants’ loss.

Sportswriters are leading the charge, writing about hexes and omens and jinxes, and dusting off the cat puns as fans share memes about the kitty’s dark powers of suckage. It’s a “cat-tastrophe!” Har har!

We’re here to state the obvious: The New York Giants suck regardless of the black cat. They sucked before the cat appeared, they sucked during the game, and they’ll continue to suck for the seven remaining games of the season.

You could say they’ve elevated it to an art, registering losing records in six of the last seven seasons.

Giants Black Cat
Horrified by another losing season, the unnamed black cat tried to flee MetLife Stadium.

On Monday night the Giants took a drubbing, losing to the mediocre Dallas Cowboys 38-17 at home and lowering their season record to 2-7. The cat’s break for freedom was the most exciting play of the game.

In other words, the cat wasn’t the cause of the losing, he was a symptom — horrified by his team’s play, he took flight and was desperately trying to find a way out of the stadium. We’re sure of it!

In the meantime, stadium staff still haven’t found the freaked-out feline, and while an anonymous team employee says there are some 300 cats living in and around the stadium, a team spokesperson says that number is closer to 30, according to the New York Post.

Some of the cats live in the bowels of MetLife Stadium while others live on the grounds of the adjoining Meadowlands race track. They’re descended from cats brought in “decades ago” to tackle a rat problem at the track and in the tunnels connecting the facilities, according to the Bergen Record.

The stadium’s owners pay to keep the cats fed and spayed/neutered, per newspaper reports, while staff at the complex care for the animals. Good on them.

Now the Giants look ahead to Sunday’s match-up with the Jets in an event affectionately referred to as the Toilet Bowl. The two New York teams are a combined 3-14 this year, but fear not — as they go head-to-head, one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win!

 

The Absurd Reason Why People Won’t Adopt Black Cats

Felines are a traditionally misunderstood lot, but no one gets it worse than black cats.

The poor little furballs are much less likely to find forever homes because of superstitions that won’t die, including claims that black cats are bad luck or agents of the devil.

While today is National Black Cat Day, many shelters across the US won’t adopt black cats out around Halloween, and sometimes for the entire month of October. The temporary moratorium is for the safety of black cats, who are much likely to be abducted, abused, killed or ritually sacrificed this time of year, according to animal welfare groups.

As if black cats didn’t have it bad enough, the age of social media has given people another reason to avoid black cats, this time for the most vapid of reasons: They supposedly don’t look good in selfies and Instagram shots.

Handsome Black Cat

Christine Bayka, who founded a rescue shelter more than two decades ago, tells the Telegraph that potential adoptees admit they’re passing on black cats for that reason.

“It happens all the time, I will go through all the questions and say ‘are you flexible about colour?'” Bayka said. “Then they will say, ‘Yes, as long as it’s not black.'”

As usual the fault lies with humans, not cats: If you can’t take a decent shot of a black cat it’s because you don’t know how to use your camera, not because the cat is impossible to photograph properly. After all, we never hear of nature photographers passing up opportunities to snap melanistic jaguars because it’s too difficult.

Black Jaguar
A melanistic jaguar.

But we’re in luck thanks to pro photographers sharing tips on how to capture the sublime beauty of these little panthers. Fuss with a few settings, make sure the lighting is right, choose a high-contrast background and you’re well on your way. There are even tips for getting better shots using your iPhone.

In honor of National Black Cat Day, here’s ample proof that they can look spectacular in photographs:

blackcat1
Focusing on the eyes and adjusting the contrast can yield some fantastic results, capturing the regal side of black cats.

cuteblackcat
Kittens don’t need help looking cute. Just make sure you’re allowing enough light into the scene.

blackcat4
This kitty looks like a legit panther thanks to a dramatic contrast between the black fur and the stone in the background, as well as an emphasis on his piercing yellow eyes.

blackcat5
A dramatic contrast with the background helps this close-up pop.

blackcat2
The classic black on black: This cat is not to be messed with!

blackcat7
With a healthy contrast in colors, details like whiskers and the cat’s tongue stand out.

Black Kitten
Okay, maybe this kitten looks like he’s planning world domination from his secret lair, but he’s looking quite handsome while doing it.

And last but not least, from reader Anna K and her handsome little panther, Frank:

Frank the Cat
Look at those eyes!