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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FIU chapter.

October has finally begun and we are now seeing more and more Halloween spirit start to appear. The air is getting chillier, the leaves are changing color, TV programs are airing spooky flicks and our favorite October activities are right around the corner. One common trait of this annual holiday includes the notorious black cat symbolism. Black cats are steeped in superstition. Along with their renowned reputation for being icons of pranks and myths, concerns for the safety of black cats looms large. 

Especially during this time of the year, black cats can get a bad rap. No one is quite sure how the black cats’ superstition of carrying bad luck started. Interestingly, black cats have historically represented good luck and fortune in some parts of the world, such as the British Isles. Just as our black cat superstitions bring many questions, so do animal rescue staff about whether this stereotype causes dark-furred kitties to face additional challenges in finding forever homes.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals believes widespread prejudice against black cats is a myth, saying that a large number of black cats in shelters is because there are simply more of them in the general feline population. Emily Weiss, the organization’s vice president of shelter research and development, explores the numbers in the United States on the ASPCA blog, and concludes the following:

“Black cat euthanasia rate is a bit higher than the others at 30%, with gray cats being the next highest at 28%. White cats do not fare much better at 26% euthanasia rate.” Still, many shelter staffers and volunteers say that, in their experience, people seem to ask for colors other than black.

“There definitely is a preference for other colors in my opinion,” said Samantha Shelton, president, and CEO of Furkids, the largest no-kill animal shelter in Georgia. “We have adopted out more than 10,000 cats and time and time again, black cats are always overlooked.” Shelton and many other shelter owners try to encourage their adoption by sometimes reducing or eliminating adoption fees for black animals. “We find it has successfully helped bring attention to them and give people something to think about; they tend to give a black animal a second glance when they know the fee is waived or reduced,” she stated.

Things get even trickier (pun intended) around the Halloween season. Some shelters will not allow any adoptions of black cats during October, fearing that the kitties could be used as Halloween props and then abandoned, or worse, that they make “an easy target for Halloween pranksters who commit violent acts against unsuspecting kitties,” explains PETA.

In October, many black cats are used as living decorations at costume and “spooky” parties, only to be dumped at animal shelters days afterward. Russell Anderson, the superintendent of Lawton Animal Welfare in Oklahoma, suspended adoptions after his staff uncovered startling information. After looking at animal abuse trends locally and nationally, they noticed that incidents spiked around Halloween. Anderson told ABC 7 News that he’s seen instances of extreme abuse, including animal sacrifices and other cult-like horrors.

Whether you’re bringing a new pet into your home this Halloween or spending the holiday with some familiar furry friends, here are a few tips for keeping them safe and comfortable:

– Keep your Halloween candy and goodies away from your pets. Candy is not good for animals, and chocolate can be extremely dangerous, if not deadly. If you would like your furry friend to enjoy some holiday treats, a healthy and safer alternative can be a treat or other goodie that is specifically designed for animals, which are often sold in pet shops or vet clinics.

– Halloween can be particularly hectic for some, with costumed strangers knocking on the door all evening and new sounds at every corner. Be aware that some costumes or exposure to strangers can scare your pet, and use caution when answering the door.

– Keep your pet in a safe place so they can’t escape through that door you just opened to trick-or-treaters. Making sure your pet’s environment is as familiar and calm as possible will help them to enjoy the holiday and feel safe and cozy this Halloween.

– In the end, your best bet is bringing all of your felines and other pets inside. The kid next door may not be into satanic rituals, but there are a lot of cars on the road, and the elements are also a very real danger.

If you would like to adopt a black cat of your own or support those who are working to find them forever homes, you can contact your local humane society or SPCA can put you in touch with shelters and pets that need homes. For contact or inquiry, a great place to start is the Humane Society of the United States or ASPCA websites.

You can often find Endry working on her courses, hanging out with friends, and drinking Coka Cola (usually simultaneously). A blue enthusiast and organizer at heart, Endry is always decorating and cultivating new aesthetics. Lover of drawing and painting, poetry, self-care, and all things style.