There's a rash of stories out there about animal shelters prohibiting or limiting the adoption of black cats until Halloween blows over. The idea is that daft revelers may pick up the cats as party props or novelty gifts only to toss them aside a few days later; there's also the old Black Mass chestnut — what if someone uses the kitty as the fodder for a Satanic ritual? There's even a controversy about whether halting adoption is a good idea: The AP quotes Gail Buchwald, vice-president of a New York shelter, to the effect that these particular felines have it hard enough. "Black cats already suffer a stigma because of their color," she says.
But read closely, and you'll notice one problem. There's absolutely no evidence of cats being used in Satanic rituals (assuming you don't consider Lloyd Webber a certain kind of devil). The ASPCA says that cruelty toward black cats does not spike on Halloween. And it turns out there's not even a seasonal uptick in black-cat adoptions, period. Indeed, at a catchall Web page for New York animal shelters, the "Featured Adoptable Pet" right now is a pitch-black little devil named Davey. Plus, as a receptionist at one shelter noted when we called, people very rarely dictate the color of the cat they want to adopt, and the demand for black ones does not ebb with the seasons. And it's worth noting that shelters are not Wendy's drive-through windows: You don't show up with a novel idea and leave with a cat. A 24-hour waiting period is typical.
So, what gives? Well, the truth appears simple yet spookily terrifying. The trumped-up topic allows the dastardly press to print cute kitty pictures while staying also "newsy." We think that's deplorable. (Oh, have you met our cat Katsuko, above?) Deplorable.