Dark Myths about Black Cats Jun 15, 2014 0:43:08 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Jun 15, 2014 0:43:08 GMT -5
Black cats: Dark myths, bad luck and the truth behind it all
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The stigma surrounding black cats goes back centuries, all the way to Greek mythology. In stories, a servant named Galinthias turns into a black cat before joining Hecate – goddess of death. Black cats became known as an omen of death.
By the Middle Ages, black cats became associated with black magic. Pope Gregory XI even published the Vox in Rama document in 1233 to deal with the topic of devil worship. In it, he claimed that black cats were the incarnation of Satan. Throughout the next century, black cats were slaughtered and their population dwindled.
Skip ahead to the witch-hunt era. Black cats were seen as being such evil companions and witches’ “familiars” that they were burned in baskets alongside their owner.
So, skip to 2014, where the stigma still exists, but is finally wearing off.
Up until the 1980s and 90s, shelter workers and cat owners were horrified to hear about black cats being used for Satanic rites and a target for people to hurt. Black cats — and cats in general — are sometimes mutilated, with an increase in the months leading up to Halloween. Animal shelters across the country even enact policies that restrict cat adoptions around Halloween and days like Friday the 13th.
Some smaller adoption centers in Las Vegas will mention that black cats still remain some of the last to be adopted, and that it’s rare for someone to come in asking for a black cat.
The darkest reality in Las Vegas is the abandonment of cats and dogs in the desert and in washes. Nevada SPCA executive director Doug Duke says that every day they have people leave animals outside for them. “If they can’t keep their animal, all it takes is a phone call.”
Some shelters have very lenient adoption policies, where it would be easy to walk in, ask for a cat, and leave. In recent years, this has tightened up and Duke says that it’s all about the connection. “We have staff trained to look for people that just aren’t making the connection. I’m less concerned of people getting them and hurting them in that way, but it is something we’re very aware of,” he said.
Duke says that, despite the fact they will still look out for people coming to adopt an animal with the intent to injure, he’s confident the myth surrounding cats and mutilation is known so well that it’s no longer an issue.
In June, which also happens to be Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month, the Nevada SPCA isn’t worried about these tales and doesn’t see any obvious trends with its black cats. “It’s just a color,” Duke says, “their hair color pattern is just genetics from their parents.”
The shelter even has a cheeky poster listing 10 reasons you should adopt a black cat, where one says the color black is slimming and holding a black cat will make you look thinner.
The biggest challenge for the SPCA this June is the abundance of kittens. That may not sound like the worst problem to have, but it plays into the larger issue of not spaying and neutering.
The period of April to August is when shelters in Las Vegas are at or over capacity – the SPCA currently houses 150 cats and kittens. Throughout this period, they expect to see more than 750 motherless kittens come to them. Regardless of color, “people come here and it ends up being that the cat chooses them, even black cats,” Duke says, “We can’t wash over the evils and the reality, but there are so many amazing heroes in this city and that’s what keeps us going.”
The Nevada SPCA, which updates arrivals frequently on Twitter, has around 20 black cats it can almost guarantee won’t cause any bad luck currently up for adoption at the shelter at 4800 W. Dewey Drive.
Source: Kristen DeSilva, The Las Vegas Review Journal, June 13, 2014.