As Halloween approaches, the already dire existence of too many black cats gets even worse. All the year round, black cats face prejudice and have lower chances of being adopted. However, during this season they are often the target of outright violence born out of ignorance or superstition.
For this reason, I found this the perfect time of year to feature a rescue organization that dedicates their work to improving the lives of black cats and finding them forever homes. I was honored to speak with Jennifer Stott, the co-founder and executive director of Black Cat Rescue, a no-kill rescue organization in Boston, MA.
Why does your organization focus on black cats? What motivated you to begin rescuing black cats in particular?
“We focus on black cats because they need some extra help! I adopted an amazing black cat, Isabel, in 2004 and love helping more cats like her. I didn’t know when I adopted Isabel that she was at a much higher risk of being killed than the cats of other colors in the shelter with her. I just knew that she snuggled into me when I picked her up! Samantha McDuffee and I co-founded Black Cat Rescue in 2007. I had been volunteering for various shelters and thinking about starting a small rescue for several years. I really wanted to focus on cats who might otherwise be overlooked. Samantha had the marketing and business know-how to get it off the ground. We have been amazed at the outpouring of support for black cats once people find out about their struggles.”
Why do people view black cats so negatively?
“There certainly are some people who don’t feel comfortable around black cats because of superstition. This actually has little impact on our day to day operations because those people don’t look for a cat through Black Cat Rescue. However we do have some adopters report that certain friends and family that have held the black cat superstition as truth have been surprised by how great their adopted black cat is. More than superstition black cats are held back by adopter preferences. Black cats are more common than cats of other colors, and people are always looking for “special.” My advice to adopters seeking a special companion is to look beyond the physical and adopt an animal with whom you really connect. Black cats might not catch your eye immediately, but spend a few extra moments with one, and they might steal your heart.”
Do you ever rescue cats that are not black?
“When we first started, we were a bit more lenient about taking in non-black cats, but as we have become more visible, we can barely keep up with the black cats who need us in Massachusetts. So, we are pretty strict these days about enforcing the black and mostly black rule. We do occasionally take in mixed litters that contain black kittens.”
Do you have a shelter? How do you care for the cats once they are rescued?
“We do not have a shelter. We use a foster care model. There are lots of pros and cons to both the shelter and foster care model. For us, a foster care network works on a small budge, avoiding rent, utilities and other costs associated with a physical shelter space. The major benefit for the cats is that they get to live in a comfortable home setting until they are adopted. This is hugely important for scared cats who can deteriorate rapidly in a traditional shelter setting. For adopters, one huge benefit of adopting from a foster home is that we have a better picture of how the cat will behave in a home setting than we would if our cats were housed in a shelter space prior to adoption. Of course the downside of the foster care model is that adopters do not have the opportunity to meet all of our cats in one place and we can only take in a cat when we have an open foster home.”
“No Kill organizations like Black Cat Rescue adopt out all healthy and treatable animals. When a cat comes to us, we commit to making sure that cat gets adopted and provide all necessary medical treatment. Since 2007, there have been 3 cats out of approximately 200 that were too sick for us to save. In all three cases, we tried.
Learn more about No Kill here: http://www.
Do most of the cats find adoptive homes?
“Yes, all of our cats are eventually adopted. Some special cases take longer than others, but there is no time limit on how long a cat can remain in foster care. In some cases, our foster volunteers fall in love with a particular foster cat and decide to permanently adopt.”
What do you do when a cat has medical issues or irreparable problems? This takes a lot of commitment from you and whomever cares for the cat, right?
“As a No Kill organization, we provide all necessary medical treatment for cats in our care. This is incredibly expensive and requires a huge commitment from our dedicated foster volunteers. We presently have in our care a diabetic cat, a senior cat recovering from severe URI, a cat awaiting biopsy results, an FeLV positive cat and an FIV positive cat. As difficult as these situations are, we know that these cats are in the best place that they can be, short of in their permanent adoptive homes.”
What is your favorite part of rescuing black cats?
“I’d have to say the moment when we commit to a cat and know that things will be better for that cat from now on and the updates from adopters. It is an amazing feeling to see a cat that was once a desperate situation being cared for and loved so much.”
Black Cat Rescue is a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization in Boston, Massachusetts dedicated to rescuing black cats from their higher chance of euthanasia and from prejudice. The cats are placed in a network of foster homes until they find permanent families. For more information, visit their website at http://blackcatrescue.com/ or their blog at http://blackcatrescue.wordpress.com/