The black cat is an icon during the Halloween season — for all the wrong reasons.
Of course the bad luck that comes from a black cat's path is just superstition. Yet, just as sure as someone will run their hand through a clover patch on St. Patrick's Day, some people will cross a busy street to avoid a black cat's trail.
Charleston Animal Society spokesperson Kay Hyman said black cats are much friendlier than their spooky reputation. "It's almost like they have to try harder because of the perception," she said.
Fortunately, CAS Operations Director Pearl Sutton said black cats don't really face stereotyping in the adoption room. It's true you'll easily find more of them, but it's due to their strong numbers among the cat population, not just in the shelter.
When people do look past black cats, it's likely because they came into the shelter with another cat in mind. Overall, surveys by the CAS and the ASPCA have shown its personality, not color, that drives feline adoptions.
A recent study at UC Berkeley looked at the perception people have of a cats personality based on its color, but it wasn't all doom and gloom for black cats.
Participants perceived orange cats as "friendly," while white cats were thought to be "shy, lazy and calm." Like the white cats, black cats were generally typecast as anti-social.
"Black cats were typified as having less extreme character traits, which might contribute to their mysterious reputation," noted a UC Berkeley release.
The cats would likely prefer "mysterious" over "cursed" any day of the year, particularly on Halloween.
As if beating myths about bad luck wasn't bad enough, black cats also have to fend off concerns from advocates that they'll be beat or sacrificed during the Halloween season.
Some pet shelters take black cats off the market in October. In Rhode Island, protestors recenty criticized an adoption event for black cats. Organizers were undeterred.
"Just because it's October doesn't mean that something is going to happen to these cats and that they can't be adopted out to good homes," said Patti Watson of Barrington Animal Control.
The Humane Society has also weighed in, according to MSN, suggesting appropriate screening from pet shelters should be sufficient.