August 17th is Black Cat Appreciation Day
After more than 32 years in the field of cat behavior, I’m still amazed at the wrong information people believe about cats. There are a number of people who hate, fear or simply don’t understand cats and as a result, they continue to spread the false information about these beautiful, loving, intelligent furry companions. Of course, not everyone has to like cats but when people make decisions to distance themselves from these animals based on myths and inaccurate information, everyone loses – both feline and human.
There are also the people who claim to like or love cats but are convinced they’re not trainable. As a result, cats end up living in stressful conditions, are relinquished to shelters, turned into outdoor cats or, even worse, euthanized. I meet so many people who have no clue cats are trainable.
The cats who seem to suffer the most from all the myths, superstitions and inaccurate information are the black cats. These precious cats are often horribly depicted on Halloween decorations, are considered “bad luck” and as a result, they become easy targets of cruelty and abuse.
How many black cats sit in shelters and are overlooked by families? Too many!
I share my home with Pearl, a melanistic bengal who, along with a few others, were dumped in the field behind my home. Pearl’s health was initially very poor and all the cats looked terrible. My guess was that these cats came from a questionable breeder who found it too expensive to maintain these cats. When people want a bengal cat they often want that wild spotted look and not just a black cat. I found out, through my rescue network that a breeder was dumping melanistic bengals and since I specialize in behavior, the breeder probably figured my yard was the perfect place. Throughout the years I have had many cats deposited on my porch (some in duct taped shoeboxes and we have since installed surveillance cameras around the property). I tried to capture the other cats but they were so traumatized that they scattered in all directions and night after night of setting traps yielded nothing but several squirrels and a really angry possum.
So Pearl became mine. As her health improved I watched her transform into the most gorgeous cat with sparkling green eyes and the sleekest black coat I’ve ever seen. In certain light I can even see traces of her bengal spots. When the sunlight hits her coat she looks as if she’s dusted with glitter. I have lived with many cats in my life but no one has ever worked the spotlight the way Pearl does.
A Wonderful Teacher and Loving Companion
In the many years Pearl has been in our family, she has been the constant companion when a family member is sick. She has been amazingly tolerant of the addition of our rescued dog and has taught him how to play more cat-like. Pearl has gifted my children with a deep love of cats and has been the patient teacher as my daughter learned clicker training. Pearl also has a sense of humor that includes a nightly game of hide and seek with my favorite wristwatch if I’m not careful to put it in the drawer after taking it off my wrist. she turns any unfortunate mouse, spider or cricket who finds itself in my house, into a gift for me. As many cat parents can relate, those “gifts” often appear on my pillow in the wee hours of the morning. She is also so incredibly patient because she allows me to stroke her soft fur longer than any person should be allowed to pet a cat.
As I sit here with my beautiful Pearl purring in my lap, I think of all the black cats out there who have been neglected, abandoned, feared, abused or simply overlooked. It’s not only terribly sad for the cats, but also for the many people who have truly missed out on an opportunity to love and be loved by such gorgeous creatures.
So to all of you who rescue, love and appreciate black cats and work hard to change the thinking of narrow-minded people, I wish you a very Happy Black Cat Appreciation Day. I know that for you, EVERY DAY is a day you appreciate your cats.
I love it when I see people wearing a little black cat hair on their clothes. It makes the world a better place.