Monthly Archives: October 2012
Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. As a black cat lover, I enjoy all the decorations featuring black kitties. Unfortunately, I know there are still people who associate black cats and Halloween with evil and witches. This is an article I wrote a few years ago about black cats and why they have been linked to All Hallow’s Eve.
Every day, black cats cross my path; yet I do not consider myself to be an unlucky person.
I have always had black cats in my life from the time I was a child and our black cat Pepper slept beside me in bed. After Pepper, our black cat, Clem, took up residence, stepping into the paw prints of his shadowy predecessor.
Currently, everyone in my family has at least one black cat.
Therefore, no matter where I go, I’m always encountering black cats. I feel very lucky being around these dark felines.
Everyone knows the superstition about having bad luck if a black cat crosses your path. But where did that belief originate, since cats, presumably even black ones, were adored and venerated in Ancient Egypt? How did black cats gain such a bad reputation?
Black cats, of course, are linked to witches. Proclaimed as a witch’s familiar, black cats were supposed to be the force that caused spells to work by channeling the evil in the world. Witches were thought to turn into black cats as they went about in the veil of night doing dark deeds. Black cats were also denounced as the manifestation of Satan himself.
But what is the truth behind the scary story?
Witches were not evil women in league with the devil. They were “wise ones,” leaders in Celtic countries—countries that believed in equality between men and women. These wise women were the midwives and healers; women who knew from experience which herbs and plants could cure certain ailments. They were the earliest pharmacists, nurses, and doctors.
Only when the Roman Empire gained power did women fall from grace. A highly patriarchal society, the Romans devalued women. Unfortunately, the early Christian Church did as well. When the Celtic women refused to follow the new male dominated laws, they caused themselves a great deal of trouble. The new masculine powers set about to get rid of the troublemakers. To do so, the troublemakers were falsely labeled as witches and were killed in all manner of hideous ways.
The authorities in charge did the same thing to the women’s cats.
Black cats already were considered the embodiment of evil long before they were believed to be a witch’s companion. With their dark fur and nocturnal ways, they represented the opposite of light and goodness. The Christian Church’s teaching that Christ was the “Light of the World” caused black cats to be reviled even more. Surely, these shadowy creatures were the antithesis to the White Lamb, Jesus. With their sleek movements, independent natures, and glowing eyes, black cats moving in the night were, of course, up to no good.
Cats were often mercifully cared for by solitary women who had already gained the reputation of “witch.” Frequently, the cats were the only friend these ostracized women had. Forming a bond with their mistresses, the cats provided much needed companionship. This friendship was the cats’ undoing.
It didn’t take long before someone let their imagination run wild and decided that the cats were actually the “witches” themselves in animal form. Able to shift their shapes, the “witches” could do more damage as they crept stealthily about the countryside. Once women began to be burned, hanged, drowned, and tortured as witches, it wasn’t long before the same fate was allotted to the black cats.
As many of the pagan, Celtic festivals were eradicated and new Christian ones created, the custom of killing black cats to ward off evil gained popularity. Often the only cats that escaped these gruesome deaths were those that had a small amount of white hair in their black coats. The white hair was deemed the “angel’s mark” or “God’s finger” and proved that something holy had touched the very unholy animals. The white hair saved the cats’ lives. This is the reason there are very few completely black cats today. The massacre of purely black cats caused a type of unnatural selection–only those cats with some white in their fur went on to reproduce. The offspring of those cats would have had some white hairs, too.
I had often wondered why all the black cats I know have some white areas in their glossy black coats. I have even heard people still say, “Oh, that cat isn’t bad–it has a spot of white…..” Did those people know that they were voicing an opinion dating back to the Middle Ages?
When my sister and I went to New Orleans a few years ago, we were appalled to learn that Voodoo, a viable religion practiced in the region, used animal sacrifice in many of its rituals. We walked into a museum on the history of New Orleans and were confronted with a horrifying sight–the mummified body of a black cat that had been killed in a Voodoo ceremony. We were assured that those types of sacrifices had been outlawed and did not occur anymore. For some reason, I questioned whether all Voodoo practitioners followed that law.
I left the New Orleans museum thinking about the black cats I know and have known. It made me sad to think that anyone could do such horrible things to any living, feeling creature. I do not believe that God ever meant for these poor cats to be harmed in such a beastly manner.
Voodoo followers are not the only ones sacrificing black cats. Satanic cults have also been linked to black cat killings. However, this idea is misleading. Rather than black cats, these groups actually kill pure white cats, which, because of their color, represent to the cults, the Christian values of light and purity.
More often than not, teenage “pranksters,” not satanic cults, actually harm black cats. These deviant individuals mistakenly think their gruesome Halloween activities represent satanic rituals. Remnants of the ancient beliefs linger and these people still equate black cats with wickedness and unholiness.
Many humane societies and shelters will not adopt black cats to people during the month of October fearing the animals will be killed in sacrificial rites. The same policy should be in place for white cats, as well. At Black and Orange Cat Foundation, we do adopt black cats and white cats during October, following our very strict adoption guidelines to make sure only a good person adopts one of these innocents.
Even if black cats are not harmed in grisly manners, they can still suffer at the hands of thoughtless humans. Black cats have been adopted from shelters in the past to be used as props for Halloween parties or costumes. The cats are then discarded and abandoned after the holiday has passed.
Most shelters have a disproportionately greater number of black cats compared to cats of other colors. Additionally, the dogs that are most commonly euthanized in shelters are large, black ones. It is common knowledge that people routinely choose the black animals less often, still superstitiously thinking they are evil. It is sad that we still cling to the beliefs of our ancestors even when those beliefs are unfounded and downright foolish.
This October, as Halloween approaches, keep your black cats inside where they will be safe from pranksters, superstitious people, and juveniles with an interest in the occult.
A black cat crossing your path will not bring bad luck to you, but many people who cross the paths of black cats bring bad luck to the unfortunate kitties.
I just want to congratulate our board member, co-founder, volunteer, foster, fundraiser, and my sister, Bobbie Timmons, on completing the 2012 Columbus Marathon in 5 hours and 38 minutes on Sunday, October 21. Bobbie had been training for the Marathon since April and completed a half marathon this summer to help her train for the 26.2 mile event.
Bobbie had decided to run the marathon to raise money for Black and Orange. And raise money she did–over $3300! Woo Hoo!! That money will go a long way to spay and neuter a lot of kitties in need. Thank you to everyone who donated for Bobbie’s marathon campaign!
In preparation for the marathon, Bobbie even got a special black and orange running outfit and hat that featured Black and Orange’s logo. Thank you to John Hedgecock of Needle This Embroidery for making the shirt and hat with our logo.
Thank you also to Lisa Di Giacomo who came to our parents’ house and took some awesome photos of Bobbie in her running outfit.
If you would still like to donate for Bobbie, you can visit her Cause page HERE. She raised $333 online and another $3,000 with a mailer we sent out.
Way to go, Bobbie. You have earned a well deserved rest. And, no feral cats are ever going to be able to outrun you now.
In the photos, Bobbie is posing with Mom and Dad’s cat, Jasmine, running at mile 16 on Lane Avenue in Columbus, getting a hug from Dad, and crossing the finish line with her hands in the air. Dad is shown holding one of the posters we held up for Bobbie. To see more photos of Bobbie in the marathon, visit our Facebook page HERE.
National Feral Cat Day was started ten years ago by Alley Cat Allies to teach people about the importance of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) for feral cats. At the time, TNR was a very new idea, but one that has grown and become a much more accepted practice nationwide thanks to Alley Cat Allies and the many other rescue groups that use this method to help cats in their communities.
TNR involves humanely trapping colonies of feral cats, transporting them to a clinic for vet care (sterilization, vaccines, and ear-tipping), and then returning them to their home base. TNR replaces the outdated and unnecessary method of Trap and Kill. Many people also often think the “R” in TNR stands for Release or Relocate, but a major component of this practice is that the cats are Returned to their home where they are familiar with places to hide and know the other cats in the colony.
The two cats that are featured in the logo for National Feral Cat Day are really two feral cats who were fixed in a TNR project in Washington DC. You can read the story of Fred and Ginger HERE.
Read about all the events taking place on this important day HERE.
And in honor of National Feral Cat Day, Xenotees is selling an ear-tipped kitty pillowcase and donating 100 percent of the profits to a Philadelphia rescue, Four the Paws. Ear-tipping, as most of you know, is the universal way to show that a cat has been fixed. A tiny portion is cut off the top of one ear (usually the left ear) to indicate that the cat is already spayed or neutered.
You can order your own ear-tipped kitty pillowcases (or tote bags!) by going HERE.
Thank you to Moderncat for letting me know about these super ear-tipped cat pillowcases!
Additionally, in honor of National Feral Cat Day, you can get a discount on Tomahawk and Tru-Catch humane traps. Receive $10 off Tomahawk’s Neighborhood Cats Trap (which usually sells for $60) by using coupon code NFCD12. And get the Tru-Catch Light Duty Animal Trap on sale for $50 (normally priced at $69.99).
To find out more about the trap discounts, go HERE.
Happy National Feral Cat Day!
We are so happy to announce that our good friend, veterinarian, and board member, Dr. Kim West, will be opening her own vet hospital, Health and Harmony, on October 15. Dr. West will be assisted by fellow friend and veterinarian, Dr. Evelyn Tannhof, and head technician/practice manager, Rob Smith, in caring for the beloved animals that enter the hospital.
Health and Harmony is located at 1117 West First Avenue in Columbus (actually Grandview).
The mission statement of Health and Harmony states: “To honor our patients, Health and Harmony Animal Hospital ensures that each client is confident in the care they are receiving for their animal companion, comfortable with all aspects of the hospital and staff, as well as engaged in all areas of their pet’s health and well-being.”
The Black and Orange Board members all had a tour of the facility at our last board meeting in September and the hospital is going to be gorgeous. Painted in calming colors, the whole building exudes peace and tranquility. There will be separate waiting areas for cats and dogs. The dog waiting area will feature large comfy dog beds for lounging. Both Dr. West and Dr. Tannhof will be bringing their dogs to work with them, so expect to see the friendly faces of Fruit Bat (the chihuahua who was saved from a spot at a busy bus stop where she sat all day with a broken ankle) and her partner in crime, Tupelo Honey, the fluffy, fierce diva Pomeranian.
There is also a true isolation room in the hospital with the walls lined with a material that can be scrubbed and sanitized. I have never seen anything like this room. Clearly cutting edge!
Dr. West will be offering her acupuncture talents for those animals who need this service. Additionally (and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this), both Dr. West and Dr. Tannhof have officially decided that they will NOT do any declaw surgeries! Declawing is a very painful and inhumane surgery and Dr. West and I have talked about the problems declawed cats face for many years. Black and Orange does not adopt to anyone who plans to declaw and Dr. West decided that, as a vet, she could not continue to do something that she thinks is unnecessary and even harmful to cats.
However, like Black and Orange, Dr. West plans to educate people about declawing and offer alternatives. The staff at Health and Harmony will trim nails and attach Soft Paws (the soft sheathes that fit over nails to prevent cats from doing damage with their nails) for clients who are worried about their cat’s scratching behaviors.
To read more about declawing and find alternatives yourself, go HERE.
We are also happy to announce that one of the cat exam rooms will be named after and dedicated to Black and Orange Cat Foundation! Our logo will be painted on the door and we will feature photos of our rescued kitties and their happy stories on the walls of the room. Other rescue groups, including SOS of Ohio, will also be featured with the other exam rooms in the hospital.
To schedule an appointment at Health and Harmony, call 614-360-3941.
To find out more and see photos of the beautiful facility, go to the Health and Harmony Facebook page HERE. And please “Like” them while you are there!
We are so happy for Dr. West and wish her and all the staff much luck as they set forth on this new and exciting endeavor!
Yes, it’s that time of year again. Time to discover famous, furry faces for the 2013 Black and Orange Cat Foundation calendar!
This year we are doing things a bit differently. It was a little overwhelming last year trying to keep track of the photos that were emailed to us (almost 200!), so this year, we asked our web site guru, Vicki Watson, to set up an easy way for us to keep track of the photos and the stories that go along with them. Vicki arranged it so that the photos can be submitted online.
Once again, all those with winning photos will receive a free 2013 calendar. The calendars are going to be $20 each (as they were last year) and we will have them ready in time for holiday gift giving.
The deadline for photo submission is October 20.
Please send in your adorable baby’s photo and make him or her a Calendar Kitty! You can submit photos by going HERE.
I know that many of you have heard of Romeo the Cat. This feisty Persian, who, by the way, was adopted from a local Persian rescue group in Marysville, Ohio, has his own hilarious and informative blog. His sidekick, Pugsley, also chimes in on Romeo’s adventures. The pair live with their human, Caroline, in Columbus and routinely fundraise for rescues and shelters.
Happily, one of our supporters suggested Black and Orange to Romeo and his mom as a group worthy of donations for our efforts on behalf of kitties. We are the October FURPOWER donation recipient.
Romeo raises money for organizations through individual donations, sponsorships, advertising, and other programs on his blog. Since 2009, this amazing feline has raised over $60,000 for shelters and rescues in need.
Please let everyone know that we are the group that will receive all donations raised by Romeo and Pugsley in October. Romeo offers some insightful info on how the blog raises money HERE. You can help increase the number of visitors to the site by dropping by for a visit with Romeo and Pugsley. The more visitors, the bigger the donations Romeo and his humans can dole out to worthy groups!
You can also take a look at other groups the cats have helped in 2012 HERE.
Like Romeo the Cat on Facebook HERE.
Thank you to Romeo, Pugsley, Caroline, Angel, and all the other humans working on Romeo’s behalf for rescues and shelters nationwide!
We also want to thank Romeo the Cat’s sponsor, Pets Add Life (PAL), for their $500 check to us for being the October FURPOWER group! Pets Add Life is an initiative by the American Pet Products Association, which celebrates the joys of multiple pet ownership and encourages adoption. Please LIKE PAL on Facebook HERE.