Black cats adopted near Halloween may run into bad luck, so many shelters have banned such adoptions to keep the animals from being used in sacrifices or as props and discarded.
“It is a time when cats are susceptible to abuse so people are screened very carefully,” said Joan Yenawine, shelter manager of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The Kentucky Humane Society Animal Rescue League will not allow black or white cats to be adopted between Oct. 24 and Nov. 1.
“People usually only want all-black or all-white cats for the novelty of it, anyway,” said Jackie Gulbe, the league’s development director.
“Actually, white cats are more sought after this time of year than black cats because pure white ones are used for sacrificial purposes by various cults and groups,” she said.
The Humane Society of the United States recommends that shelters hold onto their black cats during the week, said Andrea Mitchell of the society’s office in Tallahassee, Fla.
“You have to kind of raise your eyebrows at anyone who specifically wants to adopt a black cat, not a tabby.”
In the Portland area, shelter officials said black cat adoptions are not banned, but workers are told to exercise caution.
“We have a very strict adoption policy, and we do not just adopt out to anyone who comes through the door,” said Joan Douglas of the Animal Refuge League in Westbrook. “We try to exercise a bit more caution and perhaps ask different questions than we would at other times of the year.”
Halloween is the most important holiday in the satanic ritual calendar.
“The last thing a shelter wants to do is adopt an animal into a home where the animal isn’t being adopted for its own sake, but as a prop,” said Joan Paylo, spokeswoman for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York City.
“People do come around right before Halloween costume time trying to get that black cat to dress up and take along, make a splash at the party, put the cat in a pumpkin or whatever.
“You can tell whether someone’s telling the truth about wanting a black cat. If there’s any doubt, we just tell the person, OK, we’ll hold the cat for you, come back Nov. 1.”
The same holds true in Iowa. “It’s a matter of not wanting to put the animals in jeopardy, given their innocence and the fact that Halloween is high holiday for cult activity,” said Judy Conlin, executive director of the Animal Rescue League in Iowa.
“When people are genuinely interested in a black cat or dog, we’ll visit with them and talk about coming back after the holiday,” she said.
The Humane Society in Chattanooga, Tenn., abides by the national recommendations.
“We usually stop adopting out black cats about a week before Halloween and then resume the day after,” employee Chris Edison said. “We usually get requests for them, but we just tell them no.”
Edison said workers hear stories about black cats being abused or stolen every year at Halloween.
“If someone really wants a black cat, they’ll find one somewhere,” he said. “It’s sad.”