As much as I like Halloween, I do believe that this custom does a great disservice to black cats. Seeing as it is coming up at the end of the month I decided to declare October to be the Black Cat Awareness Month.
I have another reason however to choose October as this is the month when I got the first of my two black cats. The story is a sad one actually even though it turned out to be a lucky one for them.
It was a cold October morning in 2008 when me and my boyfriend decided to drive to a cat shelter in Colmar, France, just about 40 minutes from where we live. I had wanted a cat for quite a while and seen the homepage of the shelter. When we arrived I was shocked. I had never seen a place like this before. The place looked rundown and there were only dilapidated houses and shacks. Most of them were lacking any kind of heating. Dozens of mangy looking stray cats were roaming the place and big noisy dogs in cages barked frantically. It was noisy, dirty and off-putting. Total chaos. We looked around a little bit and finally asked someone for help. They were quite nice and later I understood that these people are doing a terrific job. None of them gets paid and they really struggle. That week they had received far over 100 new cats, many of them not older than a few days. Usually in French shelters the animals get put down within a month, if no one takes them but in this one they don’t do it and they often take those from the so-called “killing-shelters”.
“What type of cat are you looking for?” the woman asked us.
“Preferably a quiet one.” I said.
“Really?” I did not understand her emphasizing this word as I did not know that quiet meant shy, meant maybe difficult. A combination no one would want. “Long hair, short hair, any ideas about the color?” she asked next.
“Black. Short hair.”
I have hardly ever seen anyone speed like this. She ran in front of us to a little house and up some horrible stairs that looked as if they were going to cave in any minute. When we stood in front of the door she asked again “Black, right?”
I nodded and then she opened that door and I swear, until the end of my days, I am never going to forget this. The little house was swarming with black cats.
“You know,” she said, a little embarrassed. “In France, we are still quite superstitious. No one wants a black cat. That’s why we have at least two houses full of black cats.”
There was one very tiny, little cat, a female that had already been at the shelter for almost a year although she was barely 1.5 year old. I looked at her and I knew: That’s her. I realised later that if we hadn’t taken her, no one would have. Too little, too timid and – let’s face it – hard to handle as she was semi-feral.
We had to come back the next day as she needed a rabies shot to be allowed to cross the border. At home we spoke about names and decided to call her Isis as she looked quite Egyptian. The next day when we returned she had received her shot and her international passport had been fixed.
“I’m sorry,” said the girl who was there. “I had to put a name in the passport, else she cannot cross the border but you can always change it later.”
Guess what name she chose? Right, Isis.
A month later we decided to get another one because she did not like to stay alone during the day. And that’s how we got another black cat. Little Max. He was only 4 months old but extremely sick when we got him. He almost didn’t make it.
They are both lovely cats, although Isis is difficult and accepts hardly anyone but me. She was frankly bad when we got her. She seemed traumatized and had probably been hit and one leg looked as if it had been broken.
I often ask people what they think of black cats and mostly get the same reactions. I asked the vet if she knew if it was any better in Switzerland or Germany and she said that it was the same as in France. Black cats will sit in shelters endlessly. Until they get sick or lose their mind. Apart from England, where black cats are said to bring luck, they are not appreciated. I think this is very sad. When I watched the IKEA TV commercial with the cats in it I was stunned once more. Not one black cat in it.
Black cats are not more difficult than other cats. They are not moodier or less friendly. They have wonderful shiny fur and their eyes look so smashing in those dark faces.
Should you consider to take a cat from a shelter, think of the black cats who have a much smaller chance of being taken.
Do you have any thoughts or stories to share about black cats?
27 thoughts on “Black Cat Awareness Month”
I like your story. Those poor cats, I wonder what will happen to them in the future 😦
I always wanted to have a cat but I can’t because I have asthma. I had one for about a month when I was still in Junior High. He was Lupus, I wanted to his brother, he was all black (I have a think for black cat too, just like you) but he wasn’t healthy, my dad won’t allow me to have sick cat. Lupus was given away because I wasn’t feeling well.
I love animals, so when my brother gave me a turtle, Kame, I fell in love with her instantly. And fortunately, asthma n turtles have no connection at all 😉
Thanks for reading. Too bad you can´t have a cat. They are so much fun. Beautiful and funny. It is amazing all the things they do and how different they are. Like your turtles I suppose. I revisit the homepage of that shelter occasionally. It is still bad. People are very irresponsible. The moment a cat is abit difficult, the give it away. I want to include a lot of posts on cats to help people understand. With a little bit of patience a lot is possible. Isis was really wild and she did bite and now she is very kind and loving. She needed a lot of patience that´s all. He is a funny one. He likes to play football and handball and fetches his little fur mice whenever you throw them.
Awee…Max is adorable!! What is he hungging in that picture?
Yeah most people are irresponsible. It happens to turtles to 😦 Kame is the example, the owner became bored with her and planning to throw her away if no one wanted her…fortunately my brother brought her to me.
If they can’t stand animal why they want to have one in the first place? and then abondon them 😦
Well thank you, I am sure he would like to hear it. He is a very beautiful cat. And very tall. 6kg but very slim. He is hugging a sheepskin. They like to sleep on it. If I had the time I would like to open a shelter.
Ps. I can’t see the pictures, it said something is wrong right now. 😦
I fixed it.
Those are both lovely cats. I don’t understand why people don’t like black cats–it’s such an irrational fear and it is prevalent in the US as well, not just Europe. I’ve been told that here shelters won’t adopt out bacl cats during October for fear they will be abused! I have two cats–a tabby and calico–they were strays–actually the calico is the momma cat and the tabby her baby, though the tabby is a big girl now and larger than the calico. I would love a black cat, but two is enough to keep me busy at the moment! They are certainly both lucky cats you have!
It is odd with this fear of black cats. And cruel. Why do the British not share this fear? I love both of them like mad. When it comes to luck, the little Miss certainly is lucky as she is a handful. I don’t know if you had problems with yours but this one was a mean biter. The vet is still terrified. She bit without forewarnings. Within two years she is now very sweet with me. The little one was only four months old when we got him so he wasn’t a problem, but very ill, the poor thing. And two months later he jumepd out of the fourth floor balcony. Unharmed with the exception of one missing tooth. I stiil have nightmares. Two cats is enough. They need their space. Calico cats are very cute too. Most cats are in fact. Lovely animals.
Black cats are also regarded as lucky here in Ireland, although also bad luck if they cross your path… Odd now that I think about it.
We have a black cat, also a rescue although I don’t think she had any really bad experiences. We called her Lady Mew as she runs the house
Glad to hear of any country where they don’t have a hard time. Mine must really have had some nasty experiences. Horrible. Lady Mew, cute. Yeah, they tend to run the house, don’t they. Well he doesn’t actually but she does. Mine never mew though. Strange. Only like once a year when they go to the vet. So at least I know they are able to do it.
I just looked at the photo. She is a truly beautiful cat!
I have a black cat too, but I’ve never heard of them being neglected in Canada. We got him off a farm about two years ago and named him Edgar (for Edgar Allan Poe!) My husband loves the gothic and horror (and animals, he would never hurt them) so he had to have a black cat! Ours is very fluffy with a ridiculously huge tail that he’s always waving around, but yours are so beautiful too.
I am glad to hear this of Canada. Maybe it is like in England then. My boyfriend is British. He always used to have black cats before. He was not aware of this superstition. Edgar is lucky and he has a proud name. He can go out I guess. Mine cannot as we live in the city. I recently read an add in a Swiss newspaper: Cat looking for new owners. He is black but nice. The vet told me that all the shelters she goes to (we live in the three countries area France/Swizerland/Germany) are full of black cats. So, so sad.
I’m so glad you saved them! I hate thinking of all the animals who don’t have loving homes. I wish people would be more responsible. Both are beautiful!
Thanks, TBM. I would love to do more for animals, it was such a heartbreaking sight.
I would too. I’m hoping someday I can have a larger place and adopt more animals. I have always been an animal lover.
Me too. I grew up with a lot of animals, cat, dogs, birds, mice even and all sorts of other animals.
I was the same way. I get a lot of love and joy when I’m around my animals.
Me too. And I love to see how they are happy as well. They know when they are loved.
My dog Miles has a smile that lights up the room. And I love how each of them have their own personality. Miles is loving and friendly. Atticus is standoffish but loving in his own way. But he needs his space.
I had a dog who was always happy, always, just to watch her enjoy her life was so uplifting.
As a fellow cat lover, I admire your decision to adopt two black cats. The world needs people like you.
Thanks, Miguel. I don’t regret it, they are lovely cats.
I have a really unusual story about two black cats, both named “Shadow” (I often think of them even though they aren’t my own, and that is one of the many reasons I chose as my name “shadowoperator,” because that is a good luck name). The first was adopted from a family of black cats down the road from my brother’s house where some people lived in a trailer court and had a number of black cats. Some of the cats would always be running across the road or around the road when we came by, and we figure that this is the family of cats that the first little kitten wandered away from; she wound up at my brother’s house. She was promptly adopted, and loved by everyone for her gentleness and quiet temper. No scratching or biting with Shadow; she was a loving and peaceable cat, though she loved to play. Sadly, after living with my brother’s family for 2-3 years, Shadow was hit while crossing the road near their mailbox to go to the woods. She didn’t survive–(or did she?). Within about a month, while the family was still mourning, another pretty much identical little black kitten (except for a whitish blaze just under her chin) turned up mysteriously in my brother’s basement under the house, when no one could remember leaving the doors open below. She was also of a very kind and good temperament, loveable and playful and quite gentle. Not to be outdone by this peculiar but curiously welcome twist of fate, my brother’s family adopted her, and named her (of course) Shadow, in honor of her keeping up the tradition of her predecessor. Now the second Shadow has moved and gone to live with my brother’s grownup daughter and her family, since it was the daughter who largely looked after her and slept with her. But if I had ever had any prejudice against black cats (and it could certainly have turned out that way, since I had Edgar Allan Poe’s story of aversion to two black cats read to me when I was only 6), this double coincidence of the two Shadows would’ve overcome my prejudice. I have always loved cats ever since I was small, have had a number of them, and am only without one now because I live with someone who doesn’t like cats. Here’s to cats, particularly the black ones, who sometimes have the best personalities, whether “shy” or “playful” or “picturesque.”
That’s a wonderful story. I suppose they might have had the same mother and she must have been a gentle one.
My mine is a very sweet and gentle cat. She is still a somehwat difficult cat and can attack when she feels threatened but that has nothing to do with the color.
Too bad you cannot have any cats now. I acnnot travel as much as I used to but I would miss them so much if I didn’t have them.
One further comment about cats, Caroline (sorry, there are some subjects like this one about which I can’t shut up!). If you buy the kind of gallon size milk jugs which have the little circular ring around the top that you tear off to loosen the milk lid, cats can be taught to play fetch (in their own inimitable way, of course), and will enjoy it for just as long as a dog will tirelessly chase a ball. You wave the ring around in front of the cat and let it bat at it a time or two, and then toss the toy across the room (this is an indoor game, really). The cat will chase it and slap it around for a while. When the cat seems to be tiring of this, you pick the toy up repeat your first action. Soon you will find that the cat will bat it all the way back across the room to you and wait until you pick it up and tease with it and throw it again. We’ve done this with several cats in our family now, and it has been a very popular game every time.
We have a lot of games as my cats cannot go out, it would be far too dangerous in the center of a city but we have never played the game with the milk ring. I’ll try it the next time.
He is particularly playful and will chase everything. His latest toy is a lollipop he “stole” from the kitchen counter. When he flicks the handle, it turns maddly on the part where the sweet sticks and that cheers him up. He is very inventive. I’m sure he will enjoy the milk ring.