The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

October 31, 2013

Superstition could be stalling factor in cat adoption decisions

By Katie Dahlstrom
Assistant Editor

CLINTON — Jane Fonda the cat arches her back and sways her tail as she slinks along the side of her cage. Her gleaming yellow eyes keep track of other cats playing across the room. 

If Jane Fonda and her cage-mate Lily Tomlin are like many of the black cats in shelters across the United States, those cats playing across the room will find a home before they do. As will many of the other 60 or so cats available at the Clinton Humane Society.

It could be the legend that black cats have an evil ability to bestow bad luck on anyone who crosses their path or the devilish disposition often associated with the onyx-shaded felines that repel potential owners.

Whatever the case, animal shelter employees and volunteers know black cats have a harder time finding a home. 

“There are times when we have so many black cats,” Clinton Humane Society Executive Director Sandi Bartels said. “People have the superstitions about them. I think it’s something that has just been around for a long time. As far as dispelling the superstition, I’m not sure how you do that.”

Black cats are the least likely to be adopted from shelters across the country, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The ASPCA estimates black cats are half as likely to get adopted as other cats, a percentage Bartels believes might be higher in Clinton.   

However difficult it might be for a black cat to get adopted, Clinton Humane Society staff are dealing with something a little more intimidating this Halloween. More than 60 cats are ready to be adopted, the lion’s share of them orange and from the group humane society staff affectionately calls “the hoarder cats.” 

In September, Clinton police took more than 70 cats from a Clinton home and delivered them to the humane society. While a dozen of those cats have gone to other Iowa rescues and some had upper respiratory issues that turned into pneumonia, a majority are ready for a human companion.

Bartels said the cats are very sweet and social. Beyond their human compatibility, all have been spayed and neutered and given rabies shots with the money and donations the community offered after the humane society received the influx of cats from the police seizure. 

“We have had more public support than I have even seen,” Bartels said.

Shelter staff want to see all the cats, including the three raven-colored ones, go to owners who will cherish them.

“They desperately need homes. They need a chance for a new life,” office support assistant Kim Bielema said, pointing to two cats. “We got those cats when they were kittens. They don’t know what life is like outside of a cage.”

Cats are available at the humane society for $10 with an approved application. This includes the cat’s spay or neuter surgery as well as rabies vaccination.