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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Local shelters say black-cat superstitions don’t affect adoptions

Victor the black cat greets a visitor at the Spokane Humane Society on Tuesday. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Victor the black cat greets a visitor at the Spokane Humane Society on Tuesday. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

While black cats once may have been a source of fear and superstition, local animal shelters say they are just as likely to be adopted as any other animal.

Pia Hallenberg, development director for the Spokane Humane Society, said most people searching for a cat are far more concerned about the health and age of the animal than its color. She said she doesn’t buy into the myths that black cats bring bad luck and has heard some cultures think black cats bring good fortune.

“I know there was a time where people were really afraid of black cats,” she said. “But that was a long time ago.”

She said one black cat that has been at the shelter for a few months, Cameron, is old and has medical issues. Most cats are adopted within a few weeks of their arrival at the shelter, she said, but cats like Cameron often stay longer because it can be difficult to find an owner who can afford or is willing to buy medicine for an aging pet.

Angela Scheres, director of operations at SpokAnimal, said many of the people who are interested in a specific type of cat aren’t concerned with superstitions, but instead are looking for an animal that may resemble one they had when they were young.

Dori Peck, executive director of SpokAnimal, said people who come into shelters often leave with an animal different than what they were looking for because the animal often chooses the person.

She said the shelter doesn’t receive or adopt out more black cats than any other color and they spend about the same time at the shelter as any other animals. SpokAnimal currently has 39 cats, she said, two of which are black and up for adoption.

Hallenberg said the Spokane Humane Society currently has four black cats, which is about the same number the shelter usually has. She said the Humane Society sometimes has a harder time finding homes for black dogs, or certain dog breeds, than it does for black cats.

Hallenberg said she understands why people throughout history have looked at cats’ behaviors, especially black cats, and thought they might be connected to the spirit world, but she hopes myths about them will go away.

“We care about all the cats,” she said. “No matter what color they are.”

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