Le Pussy Noir: Love is more than fur-deep

With Halloween once again approaching, a somewhat little-known animal rights issue has resurfaced in certain pockets of the internet. Facebook memes and a handful of articles are attempting to raise awareness of the problems faced by black cats. The reasons behind their struggle seem to be both historic and modern.

Between 2007 and 2013, the Blue Cross reported a 65% rise in the number of black cats being brought into their rehoming centres. Why? Well, this was prime time for the rise of the smart phone, internet cat memes and the now obligatory ‘selfie’. Only, it turns out black cats don’t photograph so well. More baffling than the fact that some people think this is a good reason to give away their pet, they aren’t ashamed to admit it.

Figures vary but research shows that black cats, including kittens, wait between 13 and 22% longer to find their forever (fur-ever) home than their ‘prettier’ ginger or tabby friends. Theories as to the reason for this include that people simply don’t find them as aesthetically pleasing and even that they don’t show up as well in the dark corners of cattery cages, and so it’s harder to make that instant initial connection.

Of course, traditionally in many cultures, British included, black cats are lucky. However, their connections to witchcraft still resonate with an alarming number of people. Worse still, many animal charities warn owners to keep them indoors this time of year. Although incidents are quite rare, our little friends can become targets for unthinkable cruelty around Halloween. Maybe it’s superstition-fuelled or, more likely, some awful (drunk?) individuals simply think it’s fun to abuse a black cat at Halloween.

Black cats have just as many great qualities as other colours and maybe a few more besides. The colour of their fur is down to a genetic quirk which is the same mutation that offers them resistance to diseases. So, they are hardier. In fact, the mutation affects the same gene that offers resistance to HIV in humans. Because of this and the fact that they suffer from many of the same health problems as humans, (cancer, Alzheimer’s etc.) black cats could be vital in research for treating certain diseases (without cruelty to the cats, please!). The only downside to offer itself up where black cats are concerned is that they don’t show up so well to traffic on the roads at night so best keep them in if possible.

27th October is National Black Cat Day. It’s not a coincidence that this falls right before Halloween.  Black cats are neither bad nor good luck. They are simply living creatures with feelings who have just as much love and companionship to offer as any other feline. Here are a few reasons to have one:

  • They are last to get picked, so be one of the good guys and choose them
  • They are basically mini panthers, and why wouldn’t you want one of those?
  • They are less likely to get sick and will live to a ripe old age by your side
  • They don’t care what colour your hair is……

 

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