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Black Cats and Halloween

Updated: Sep 20, 2018

Fact or Fiction

Our rescue, Pets Alive WNY, routinely runs black cat adoption specials for Halloween. There are a lot of black cats at our center that continually get overlooked by people coming in to adopt their next family member, so we are striving to increase their odds to get adopted. It is not unusual for us to do a holiday promotion for our adoptable cats. We understand that cat adoption fees are never going to cover the cost of neutering, vaccinating and caring for our cats, and each day they are in our care is one less day they have a home of their own. We often do adoption promotions and marketing campaigns that are tied into current seasons or holidays. One May, we did a play on Cinco De Mayo where we offered our adult cats for adoption for $5 (six long term cats were adopted that day). In July, we did a "Let Freedom Ring" adoption special where we offered all adult cats as adoption fee waived where several black cats went home. During November & December, we will do some sort of holiday special to encourage people to adopt and hopefully clear out the adoption center in preparation for the new year. But no adoption promotion we have run has caused quite the backlash like our Halloween black cat special.

Our goal is to adopt out some of our wonderful black cats that seem to be the last to get any attention, even though they have some of the best personalities. Instead we find ourselves defending our promotion and being accused of not protecting our black kitties and allowing them to be subjected to satanic cult rituals, demonic worship and witchcraft instead. Wow!

So let's take a look at these arguments and see if they hold water (or witch's brew in some circles). National Geographic did an article in 2007 titled “Ritual Cat Sacrifices a Halloween Myth, Experts Say.” Experts on Halloween have found “no confirmed statistics, court cases, or studies to support the idea that serious satanic cult crime even exists.” And where is the satanic bible that states that black cats are the ones used in satanic rituals? It could be white cats, or orange cats or blue cats or more likely, no cats at all. If a human being was intent on harming an animal, the color of the cat wouldn’t matter nor the time of year. If the cat happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, then anyone who is cruel to animals would take advantage of the opportunity to hurt them.

Let's go ahead and take a GIANT leap into the folklore, and ASSUME that black cats are more likely to be abused or tortured during the Halloween season. Where would these satanists be getting their black cats from do you think? Would they walk into a shelter or a rescue, fill out an adoption contract, pay their adoption fee, give photo ID and get the cat's microchip registered to themselves? Would they make that much effort to find a cat to abuse or would they just pick up a cat off the street?

What about the flip side of this argument? Are the very people that think they are protecting black cats by reminding everyone that black cats are used in satanic rituals and witchcraft actually causing the public to back away from adopting these wonderful feline companions? Are they feeding into the stereotype that black cats are evil and should be avoided? Labels matter, and even goodhearted and good intentioned people can feed into stereotypes that cause animals to be viewed as different, thus making them less adoptable. Our goal is to get the cats & kittens out of our adoption center and into homes, where they can live long and happy lives, and these negative connotations do not help with that goal.

And as for the witchcraft angle, let us all remember that the Wiccan religion is earth-based and preaches respect for the planet and all life forms. Wiccans would be far more likely to celebrate the life of the cat rather than causing its death. But this too is a stereotype caused by too much media hype that has no basis in fact.

So please help our black kitties by not spreading the old wives' tales that prevent them being adopted in the first place.

Black cats are the most likely to get overlooked in animal shelters

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