Dakin Not Spooked by Black Cat Superstitions

by Lee Chambers

Onyx, a 1 year-old kitty at our Springfield Adoption Center, is seeking someone to love.  Read more about him here

Halloween is in the air, and it brings the sights of the season; spooky decorations that include ghosts, monsters and black cats.  While it’s easy to understand the scare factor of the undead, people often wonder how black cats landed in such eerie company.  Centuries-old superstitions and folklore viewed black cats as evil omens and companions to witches.  Even today, there are people who feel they are suspicious or unattractive for any number of reasons.

Others worry a great deal about their safety, especially at Halloween.  People fear that black cats will be mishandled or worse, or adopted from shelters as a living decoration, then abandoned when the season ends.  Here at Dakin, we’ve been asked a few times over the years why we won’t temporarily suspend black cat adoptions at this time of year to protect our feline friends.

“We recognize that people are concerned,” says Dakin’s Executive Director Carmine DiCenso.  “This is something that animal welfare industry professionals have been looking at for years, and there’s no evidence that indicates these animals will be put in harm’s way.

“That’s why we don’t remove black cats from the adoption floor in October,” he continues.  “We don’t feel they’re at risk, and it’s extremely important that no animal on our adoption floor miss an opportunity to connect with a potential adopter.  Plus, when someone wants to adopt, they have a one-on-one conversation with our animal resource counselors, pay an adoption fee and provide contact information.  At Dakin, our founding belief is that people are intrinsically good and will make good choices for their pets when treated with understanding and provided with proper information and resources.  We stand by that principle.”

The history of black cat folklore is long and complicated.  Centuries ago, western cultures believed black cats to be evil omens, or to actually be shape-shifting witches.  When the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth, their devotion to the bible led them to consider black cats as companions to witches, and anyone caught with one would be severely punished or even killed.  Even now, most of Europe considers the black cat to be a symbol of bad luck, particularly if they cross the path in front of someone, which is considered an omen of misfortune or death.

As it turns out, there are some countries that consider them to be lucky, at least some of the time.  In Germany, a black cat crossing a person’s path from right to left is considered a bad omen, but from left to right the opposite is true.  Scottish lore holds that a black cat’s arrival to the home signifies prosperity, and most of the United Kingdom overall considers it good luck to have a black cat cross your path.

Here at Dakin, we think all cats bring good luck…especially to adopters!

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