Although 12-year-old BadKitty is an indoor cat, her owner still worries about her safety and plans to keep her in the back of the house Wednesday night while opening the door for Halloween trick-or-treaters.
“It would be an exceptionally bad night for her to get out,” said Lisa Lawrence, of Tacoma. “No. 1, there are some very ignorant people out there that are superstitious, and No. 2, I think that on a holiday like Halloween, when people are in costumes and masks and feel a sense of anonymity, they’re more likely to behave in a way they wouldn’t normally.”
Myths about the dark-haired felines include that they’re associated with witches, and that coming across one brings bad luck. According to lore, when witches were burned at the stake, their black cats were burned with them.
The Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County recommends all pets stay inside for the holiday, but not because of myths or pranksters looking to abuse black cats.
“All pets are in danger around Halloween, just because of the noise and chaos,” spokeswoman Marguerite Richmond said.
To her knowledge, there have been no local cases of cats being mistreated on Halloween.
With the extensive paperwork required to adopt an animal at the shelter these days, workers aren’t as worried about black cats being taken for nefarious purposes close to Oct. 31 as they are that they won’t get chosen in the first place.
They’re the least-likely cats to be adopted at the shelter – so much so that the organization periodically has given them away with the adoption of another cat. They call the program “Me and My Shadow.”
BadKitty had multiple strikes against her in the search for an owner; not only was she unlikely to be adopted in the first place because of her color, but her first owners returned her as a kitten to the private shelter where they found her.
“They were afraid she was going to maim their Yorkshire Terrier,” Lawrence said. As her name suggests, BadKitty “is a feisty little critter and holds her own.”
But when Lawrence was looking to adopt, it was love at first sight.
“She meowed at me three times while appearing to look very dignified, and then she reached out of the cage and put her paw on my arm,” Lawrence said. “I asked: ‘Can I hold the black cat?’ And then she snuggled in and started purring, and she owned me.”
That was also the case for Erin O’Hagan, who meant to take the black kitten she rescued years ago to the shelter, but never quite made the trip.
Superstition is what O’Hagan believes brought her the now-14-year-old Licorice, and it’s why she’s kept her inside on Halloween ever since.
Her family found Licorice abandoned as a kitten in a Puyallup field, and because she was the only one dumped, O’Hagan thinks someone’s superstition was to blame.
She said this is likely the last Halloween for Licorice, who was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago.
Color wasn’t a deciding factor when she went to pick a friend for her second cat, One-eyed Jack, in preparation for Licorice’s passing.
She found a kitten from the litter of a co-worker’s cat, and Jack ended up with a little shadow of his own. Gizmo, 3 months old, is black, like his oldest sibling.
“Both of my (black) cats are totally normal as far as cats go, so that color – and obviously my other cat only has one eye, so disability – all of those things have never been a deciding factor in terms of whether I keep or adopt a cat. I didn’t even bat an eye other than I thought it would be funny that I had two,” O’Hagan said about adopting Gizmo.
“I think it’s kind of a little ridiculous that there are so many kinds of myths and folklore out there regarding animals,” she said. “It just isn’t that big of a deal to me.”
Although One-eyed Jack is a multi-colored, fluffy mixed-breed, she’ll be on lockdown with the others Wednesday night. Because she wanders off to visit neighbors, she’s allowed out only on “supervised release” as it is.
O’Hagan says she might be overly cautious in keeping her cats indoors for the holiday, but she’s not taking any chances.
“You kind of take it with a grain of salt, but you just never know – some of the pagan practices that surround Halloween and the use of animals and that sort of thing,” she said. “That might be folklore, but definitely I’ve heard the stories.
“In all honesty, they’d probably be fine, but I’ve just always taken the stance that it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268
• The Me and My Shadow adoption special has been replaced by the ongoing promotion Cats are Priceless name your own adoption fee. That special lets adopters take home cats 6 months or older for any donation amount. • Visit www.thehumanesociety.org. For information, call 253-383-2733.