Shelter policies based on urban myths put pets at greater risk than they might from people who would adopt with malicious intent. In other words, shelters that refuse to allow black cat adoption around Halloween mean well but experts say they are wrong.
Why don’t some shelters allow black cats to be adopted around Halloween time?
Dismantling urban myths
For years there have been concerns, based on little more than hearsay, that black cats are sought out on Halloween for satanic rituals. Other less exaggerated versions of this myth include concerns about teenage animal abusers and people who want a black cat solely as a Halloween party decoration. Meanwhile, people who provide perfect homes for these pets may not enter the shelter while an adoption ban is in effect.
What about the frequent disappearances of cats or the gruesome discovery of feline remains? Forget about satanic rituals; in most of these cases, the explanation is woefully ordinary. When a cat doesn’t come home, it has most likely been hit by a car, poisoned (on purpose or by accident), or caught like a wild animal and killed. In the mutilated cat cases, experts blame the incidents on a growing number of hungry urban predators, not satanic partiers. (Is it any wonder why so many vets encourage cats to be kept indoors?)
There is no evidence that black cats are at particular risk of abuse if they are adopted around Halloween according to experts. The only thing a fear-driven policy does is put more cats of all colors at risk of dying in shelters due to overcrowding. In shelters that kill for population control, not considering animals for adoption puts them at high risk of not being present when the adoption ban is lifted.
Adoption keeps cats (of all colors) safe
As we said, we recognize that such political decisions are made with the best of intentions. Black cat policies used to be widespread until animal rights groups began to advocate for their abandonment, pointing to the lack of evidence for myths and suggesting that effective year-round screening of potential adopters and a data relay (checking references, etc.) would probably remove weeds from bad apples.
Today’s best shelters are not looking for reasons not to adopt pets. They recognize that powerful and positive marketing helps pets make it into great homes. Shelters that put black cats in special are using a hook to get people to think about adoption.
There is nothing to be scared of and it is not a trick. Some shelters are beginning to buck the trend and embrace this time of year as a way to find kittens a loving and caring home forever. Some shelters offer adoption agreements and fee waivers as a way to showcase cats whose color might make them less desirable than their tabby or calico siblings, but they are no less sweet for that. No matter the season, if you are looking for a furry friend, do not rule it out just because of the color of its fur and if you need to give a black cat a home, taking into account the necessary care, you can find love and affection in a family that adopt.