This being Friday the 13th, black cats are on my mind. I’m not superstitious, so neither the date nor the cats bother me, but they do bother a lot of people.
A pass-along this morning said that black cats (and black dogs) in shelters tend to be overlooked and are killed disproportionately. Another common rumor is that black cats are adopted at Halloween by Satanists (or teenage wanna-be Satanists) to sacrifice in horrible rituals.
Snopes.com says the evidence is inconclusive on that last point, although they also mention people who want to “rent” black cats as party decorations. I don’t know if this actually happens, but I doubt that it actually works. Cats of any color are more likely to spend a Halloween party behind the sofa or ralphing on the snack table than posing prettily in a tableau of pumpkins. (Digression: Hairballs are pretty grody, so I guess they could be considered decorations, if you’re the horror-fan sort of party-giver.)
I don’t believe cats are bad luck, because I don’t believe there’s any such thing as an all-black cat. As far as I can tell, they are required by law to have at least ten white hairs somewhere on their bodies. Show-offs prefer the chest area.
But I have a confession: I have never owned a black cat. (Digression: My mother-in-law has. No comment.) We did once have a lovely tuxedo cat named Shaker. She had, in addition to the white chest, white whiskers and adorable little white feet. She had a lot of dignity, but then spoiled the effect when she jumped off my lap at the vet’s, made a break for it as fast as her tiny little feet would carry her, and ran headlong (bonk!) into the glass door. It was so sudden that she couldn’t realistically pull off the “I meant to do that” look. Nice try, though.
We did have a black guest cat (a foster) that I named Joliet. (Digression: Here’s the story. I had a black friend named Darryl. I couldn’t call the cat Darryl because she was female (Darryl Hannah notwithstanding). My friend Darryl came from Joliet, IL, so I named her Joliet in his honor. It didn’t matter, because everyone misheard it as Juliet and called her that.)
We might have kept Joliet, but she proved to be a brazen thief. (If she were he, we could have called him Joliet Jake. Or Darryl, I guess, except Darryl wasn’t a thief. Never mind.)
One night we were eating in front of the TV and had a large steak on a plate on the coffee table. Joliet did not choose the typical cat ploy of sniffing daintily at the edge of the steak and making the pitiful “nobody-feeds-me” face. She swooped in and grabbed the whole thing, then raced across the living room with it. From our vantage point it looked like a steak with four feet and a long black tail fleeing the scene of the crime. We recovered the steak, washed it off, and ate it anyway. We were not so well off that we could afford to waste a steak.
(Digression: Once I was cruising the cheap meat (reduced for quick sale) section at the grocery. A guy, obviously embarrassed, picked up a couple of steaks and said, “I feed these to my dog.” “Yeah?” I said, tossing some into my cart. “I feed them to my husband.”)
Anyway, we decided that Joliet and another family would be happier with each other. Looking back, we may have made the wrong call. She never brought us any bad luck. We just needed to train her to steal steak from other people and bring it back to us. Then again, trying to train a cat is difficult enough, never mind trying to train one to give away stolen meat.