Black cats are often associated with witches, spells, evil and bad luck. Silly superstitions, we say; black cats are anything but wicked. However, if you look at adoption rates of black cats in the United States, you’d say we were in the minority. These beautiful kitties are actually less likely to be adopted than cats of other colors due to the prejudice against them.
“Prejudice of any kind takes root gradually over time,” Layla Morgan Wilde of Cat Wisdom 101, a website dedicated to raising funds for national Black Cat Awareness and Adoption campaigns and to lobbying for an official Black Cat holiday, told Petcha.com. “For cats, especially black cats, the prejudice took hold over 300 years during the Dark Ages when both cats and witches were wrongly associated with devil worship. Without little education or literacy, superstitions easily spread by gossip and hearsay. It’s easy to see how a slinking, acrobatic, black cat may have appeared mysterious, disappearing into shadows with eyes that glowed in the dark. Prejudice doesn’t shift overnight. It takes time to carve new neural pathways of behavior, understanding and perception.”
“Ironically, we have a world of knowledge at our fingertips and yet the same spooky Halloween image and iconography is what black cats are still largely associated with,” Wilde added. “In the age of social media, we know how powerful an image is. Black cat superstition is ingrained every year at Halloween, now a $ 7.5 billion year-round industry.”
In an effort to dispel that tired myth and help get more of these cats into homes, Wilde is working on a nonprofit anthology called “Black Cats Tell All.” The book is a collection of positive black cat stories and is narrated from the cats’ perspective, a press release states.
The idea for the book stemmed from a story Wilde heard.
“The aha moment came when one of my blog readers told me about her old feral cat, Punchy,” Wilde told Petcha. “There aren’t many feral cat colony survivors at that age. I smelled a good story. She sent me a short story narrated in his voice: the voice of an old black feral who’d survived 17 Iowa winters in a barn. He’d led a checkered life of love and loss, wild but cared for by a human. It spoke of compassion, acceptance and humanity. I thought, what if there was an entire book of positive black cat stories narrated by the cats to tell their side of the story. It quickly jelled from there.”
“Black Cats Tell All” features stories of 22 different black cats, including Cole of Cole and Marmalade fame, and his human, Chris Poole, who supports the goal of dispelling the myth that black cats are wicked.
Other famous cats and regular cats-next-door are also included.
“The cat contributors are from readers of my Cat Wisdom 101 blog and social media, cats I know from my consulting work, cats I follow on Instagram and there are a number available spots or stories I haven’t settled on yet,” Wilde said. “There are adoption stories, but I haven’t selected a cat currently up for adoption. I’d like to think he’ll have a home before the book is published.”
To get “Black Cats Tell All” published and available to the public, Wilde set up a 30-day Kickstarter campaign. The campaign, which Wilde hopes will fully fund the book, has raised nearly $5,000 of its $15,000 goal, with 15 days left to go. Because the campaign is backed by a nonprofit sponsor, any contributions made are tax deductible. Pledges start at $1, and perks range from Black Cat Club memberships to copies of the book to a personal thank you from Cole and much more.
Wilde told us that she envisions the book to be the bridge to other black cat-related creative projects that destroy the myth and rebrand these animals as loveable creatures — just like any other cat.
“The goal of the nonprofit book is to shift perceptions about black cats, one story, one book, one cat adoption at time… There is nothing more powerful than storytelling,” Wilde said. “It educates and informs by entertaining and sparking our emotions. We may not remember all the words but we remember how a story made us feel. Who better than the cats themselves to change negative views to adorable adoptables?”