After my oldest cat Mac died, there was no question of “replacing” him with another cat. He had a large and impressive personality and nobody will ever take his place. But I’ve been volunteering at a local no kill shelter for six months now, and since the first night I’ve wanted to make 8-year-old all-black Nakana part of our family.
The moment we “locked eyes,” it was love at first sight—at least on my part. Soon after I began to work with the cats in the cat roaming room, Nakana developed ringworm and had to be isolated. I don’t work with the cats in isolation because I don’t want to risk bringing home an illness to my elderly cats. For months she stayed in that room because she just couldn’t shake the ringworm. Apparently, stress makes the ringworm more difficult to eradicate.
After she recovered, she was taken to PetSmart, in hopes that she would be adopted. But there she sat for another couple of months! This was at least Nakana’s second time around at the shelter (after having been returned by someone). I started stopping by PetSmart to wave at Nakana. She would reach her paw toward me. One time I told a couple looking how I have worked with the cats at the shelter, and that Nakana has a marvelous disposition. You see, if I could find her a good home, I wasn’t going to keep her from being adopted just because I wanted her. She needed a home as soon as possible and I couldn’t bring her home with sick Mac taking up so much of my time and energy. The couple took one look at her and shrugged, turning toward the pretty light-colored and patterned kittens and cats.
After I adopted Nakana and brought her to see a vet at the shelter, the vet told me that she has had three black cats and they were her favorites, but that the reason Nakana wasn’t adopted before I took her was because “a lot of people don’t like black cats.”
WHAT?!! HOW CAN PEOPLE JUST NOT LIKE CATS BECAUSE OF THEIR COLOR?
Is this because of superstitions that exist in the United States about black cats? According to Wikipedia, black cats are good luck in Great Britain and in Japan.
By the way, superstitions about cats can be good or bad and can affect more than black cats. If you want to read a wonderful children’s book that tries to subvert superstition about cats (in this case, a white cat) read The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth.
Sorry for that tangent.
In America and much of Europe, superstitions about black cats tend to be negative. The Pilgrims brought this attitude to this continent. This is where the notion of the black cat as a witch’s familiar comes from and why some people believe black cats are bad luck, especially when they cross one’s path.
How silly is that? They are just like all other cats: in need of loving homes and families. Although all cats have different personalities, it is true that many cat people declare with certainty that orange cats are almost as outgoing and verbal as dogs and that black cats have independent, curious, and friendly natures. I would agree with this assessment! Not all, certainly, but many.
Because we grow so many wackos and because of these preposterous superstitions (which could put ideas in the mind of wackos), Halloween is seen as a dangerous time for black cats. While there is disagreement about just how dangerous, why not just be on the safe side and keep all black cats indoors and protected through the fall? My cats are strictly indoor anyway (for their own sakes and for the sake of the wildlife), but I am particularly careful around Halloween.
But is it true that some people just don’t like black cats? Shelters have a more difficult time finding homes for black cats. My son knew this and when he went to adopt a cat two years ago, he purposely took a black kitten he named Meesker.
Meesker is one of my three grandcats!
Mac was 17 ½ when he died. He was an orange and white tabby, with a true orange tabby personality. I found him in my yard all those years ago. Fifteen years ago I found another cat in my yard—a black and white tuxedo cat I named Pear Blossom. She is now my grand lady cat. She’s black, but unlike a black cat, she has white whiskers and almost perfect tuxedo markings. Then we found Felix, a brown tabby, in our same yard, and he became our third cat. Tiger is a calico with tabby markings—maybe a patched tabby would be more accurate? Not one of them is a solid black cat, but then I didn’t choose these cats. They chose me.
But I have had a black cat before. When I was a little girl, the cat across the street had kittens, and I whined and cried enough that I was allowed to pick out a little black kitten my mother named Toby. I hope Toby’s life eventually turned out better than it was at my house. He was afraid of so much. He was afraid to go outside. He was afraid to be any place except under my bed or hiding in the basement. And when my parents adopted my baby brother, my mother was afraid of having a cat in the house with a baby. She actually thought a cat might kill the baby!
TALK ABOUT SUPERSTITION!!!
So one day while I was at school, my parents took Toby to a farm to live out his life. And I never got to say goodbye to him. Then my father took me to an expensive toy store to pick out any toy I wanted. I had never picked out a toy I wanted before. In the midst of my tears over Toby, I selected an empty black patent leather Barbie case. And have felt guilty my whole life that I chose a toy to make my father feel better about stealing my cat.
CATS AND DOLLS. Is that all you can write about?
Now I have a black cat again. Nakana is not Toby. She’s not anything like Toby. In fact, Nakana is a mature, good-natured, curious, calm female cat. One that all those people choosing kittens over her missed out on.
I’m having a hard time taking new photos of Nakana because she keeps moving toward me to rub against me for petting. What a hardship ;).