the black cat bias

We all know the old wives' tale..."never let a black cat cross your path." But where did that come from? And why shouldn't we?

Do cats bring bad luck? And are they really the last to be adopted? The Black Cat Bias. wellmindedpets.com

Do cats bring bad luck? And are they really the last to be adopted? The Black Cat Bias. wellmindedpets.com

the origin of the bad luck curse

Black cats started to get the shaft in Europe during the middle ages. Most people were paranoid and hysterical about witches and witchcraft during that time. Poor old ladies (with cats, some of which were black), were accused of being witches, and their cats were guilty of witchcraft by association. People started to believe that the black cats were actually the witches who'd transformed themselves, and this notion fueled the Salem witch trials in America. Some believed that a witch could transform herself into a black cat nine times...which is thought to have been the origin of the "cats have nine lives" saying. Still today, black cats are heavily associated with Halloween and spooky goings-on. For many in Western culture, a black cat crossing paths with a human signifies misfortune and death.

Huffington Post recently broke down the bad news about black cats.

bad luck for black cats

• black cats have a very difficult time being adopted

• some shelters offer reduced adoption prices or free spaying and neutering for black cats to encourage adoption

• 13% of Americans are superstitious about a black cat crossing their path

• some organizations and shelters do not allow adoptions of black cats during the month of October for fear of animal cruelty

• a Nevada shelter put on an "Adopt Your Own Mini Panther" campaign to persuade people to adopt black cats, and all 18 black cats they had were adopted

• black cats have the lowest adoption rate and the highest euthanasia rate

black cat fun facts

• there are 22 breeds of cats that can have solid black coats

• the Bombay is the most common black cat breed, a breed also characterized by intelligence, playfulness, and tendency to interact and seek attention

• the percentage of male and female black cats is slightly skewed toward the male gender

• the high melanin pigment in black cats causes most of them to have yellow eyes

• in many other cultures, a black cat is thought to bring good fortune and prosperity

the good news

As awareness is raised about the black cat adoption situation, more and more people are coming to shelters specifically requesting a black cat. Since these animal lovers know the struggle black cats face, they are helping the cause. Pawsome!

We recently worked with one of our favorite black cat clients, Jacopo. If you take a look at this outtake from our time together, you'll see the smart, playful, gorgeous "mini panther" that he is.

Tell me about your black cat!

A back cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere. -Groucho Marx


pets and domestic violence

Did you know that a large majority of victims of domestic violence hesitate to leave their situation out of concern for their pets?  There is a strong link between domestic violence and animal abuse, and offenders of domestic violence typically abuse all members of the household, including pets. Since many shelters do not accept pets, it can be a gut-wrenching decision for victims to leave their pets behind with their abuser. 

Pets and Domestic Violence

Pets and Domestic Violence

the impact of pets in domestic violence situations

Since the link between animal abuse and domestic violence is so strong, it is likely that a perpetrator of domestic violence will also abuse the animals in the home. According to animal advocacy group RedRover, most animal abuse occurs in the presence of human victims in the home in order to psychologically control or coerce them. Threats against household pets can be powerful in controlling victims and keeping them quiet about the abusive situation. 

In a violent home, pets may suffer injuries, health problems, permanent disabilities, or may disappear from the home entirely or be killed.

Here are some interesting statistics from the American Humane Association:

• 71% of pet-owning women entering women's shelters reported that their batterer had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims.

• 68% of battered women reported violence toward their animals. 87% of these incidents occurred in the presence of the women and 75% in the presence of the children.

• 13% of intentional animal abuse cases involve domestic violence.

• Between 25% and 40% of battered women are unable to escape abusive situations because they worry about what will happen to their pets should they leave.

• For many battered women, pets are sources of comfort, providing strong emotional support: 98% of Americans consider pets to be companions or members of the family.

• A child growing up in the U.S. is more likely to have a pet than a live-at-home-father. 

• Battered women have been known to live in their cars with their pets for as long as four months until an opening was available at a pet-friendly safe house.

the link between domestic violence and animal abuse

According to the ASPCA, and other resources, there is a strong link between domestic violence and animal abuse. In fact, a history of pet abuse is one of the top four indicators of risk for being a perpetrator of domestic violence. Those who abuse animals are typically more dangerous, violent and controlling than those who do not. Since so many women (though men can also be victims of domestic violence, it is most often women and children who are at risk) delay leaving an abusive situation out of concern for the pets in the household, it is vitally important that we provide resources for families with pets. 

In addition, the ASPCA cites other shocking facts about animal abuse and domestic violence. Children exposed to domestic violence are three times more likely to be cruel to animals, which seems to perpetuate the cycle of abuse. Interestingly, the Chicago Police Department found that 30% of people arrested for animal abuse had domestic violence charges already on record.

why do abusers batter animals?

According to the ASPCA, there are several reasons abusers batter animals:

• to demonstrate power and control over the family

• to isolate the victim and children

• to enforce submission

• to perpetuate an environment of fear

• to prevent the victim from leaving or coerce her to return

• to punish for leaving or showing independence

what can you do?

What got me thinking about all of this? I was listening to The Mathew Blades Morning Show here in Phoenix the other day, and I heard him talking about his support of the Sojourner Center. He announced that he will be the emcee of their upcoming 14th Annual Hope Luncheon on October 29th. 

Blades spoke about how the Sojourner Center supports women with pets by allowing them to stay together. The victims of domestic violence can bring their pets with them to the shelter, which can provide safety for the pets and comfort and peace of mind to the women and children seeking refuge from their abusive situation. 

You can attend the luncheon, volunteer with the Sojourner Center or donate to the organization. 

resources & help

The Sojourner Center

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

RedRover–bringing animals from crisis to care

Safe Place for Pets–a RedRover project with the National Link Coalition and Sheltering Animals and Families Together

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please seek help.

will your pet be safe if a natural disaster strikes? #NatlPrep #giveaway

This weekend marks the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I can't believe it's been that long. Hitting the Atlantic coast and costing over 1,800 lives, it was one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. Families with pets faced torturous decisions, as no provisions had been made for pets in such a disaster. Many people were forced to leave their pets behind, which was a huge emotional blow in such a time of crisis, not to mention the health and safety risks the situation posed to the pets. Some people refused to evacuate without their pets, which further complicated rescue efforts. In all, over 600,000 pets died or found themselves homeless, and almost half (44%) of people who refused to evacuate said they did not leave because they were not allowed to bring their pets. 

Will your pet be safe if a natural disaster strikes?

Will your pet be safe if a natural disaster strikes?

PETS Act

Hurricane Katrina was the catalyst for the PETS Act–the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act. The act had bipartisan support in both houses, and the legislation passed quickly through Congress and was signed into law in October 2006. It ensures that state and local emergency planning addresses the needs of households with pets.

our hurricane katrina rescue dog

In addition to the lives lost and families displaced by Hurricane Katrina, many animals found themselves astray. The stray animal population was too much for the Gulf Coast area to handle, especially as they began a long process toward recovery, so animals were sent to shelters and rescue groups all over the United States in hopes that by dispersing the stray population, more animals would find homes. Our dog, N.A.S.H.A. was one of those dogs. 

Our dog, N.A.S.H.A., is a Hurricane Katrina rescue.

Our dog, N.A.S.H.A., is a Hurricane Katrina rescue.

We adopted N.A.S.H.A. in September of 2005 when she was just a pup. She was with a rescue group that had taken on a large number of strays left homeless in the wake of the hurricane. My step-son, B, and I walked past her crate, and she went nuts. We watched from afar as others passed her crate and noticed that she only got excited when we walked by. B asked if we could take her out and hold her. That's when I knew we were in trouble. We weren't even thinking of adding another dog to the family. She chose us, and we couldn't deny her. 

do you have a plan in place for your pets if disaster strikes?

Thanks in big part to the PETS Act, our animal companions are now being considered when disaster strikes, but many of us don't have a emergency plan for our pets. Whether you live in a place where a hurricane or tornado could strike, you live in earthquake country, or you live in a place that could flood in a matter of moments during monsoon season (that's us), it's important to have a solid plan in place for your pets. 

We're working with the ASPCA to help spread the word about disaster preparedness for families with pets. They have created a handy infographic to break down the most important things to consider:

september is national preparedness month–take the pledge and enter to win a disaster preparedness pack

September is national preparedness month. Are you prepared to take care of your pets in a natural disaster? Are our pets safer than they were ten years ago when Hurricane Katrina struck? Join me in taking the pledge to prepare for your pets in the event of an emergency by clicking here.

Enter to win this ASPCA Disaster Preparedness Pack.

Enter to win this ASPCA Disaster Preparedness Pack.

The ASPCA has generously offered to give a Disaster Preparedness Pack to one of our readers! The pack includes:

• emergency ready pet first aid kit

• Subaru roll-up picnic blanket

• Subaru penguin umbrella

With this pack, there's no excuse not to be prepared.

Have you and your pets been through a natural disaster? Are you prepared to care for your pets in the event of an emergency? Please tell us about it.



i can't look at #cecilthelion

When I saw the picture of "the dentist" and his kill, Cecil the majestic lion, for the first time in my Facebook feed the other day, all I could do was glance and read the summary. I had to look away. But, then there was another post, and another, and another. I had to shut it down for a while. 

I've been avoiding Cecil stories ever since. All I knew was that some dentist shot a famous lion in Africa. As a professional pet sitter and blogger, I felt like it was my responsibility to be completely informed about the situation, but each time I looked, I cried, and I couldn't bring myself to read a story. Each story included pictures. I couldn't look at poor Cecil without breaking down, and I couldn't look at that smug asshole of a mother-bleeper who shot him. 

I still can't look. Each time I see a reference to the story, I scroll away–move on. Perhaps a form of denial, but my heart just can't take the trauma of seeing it. 

I was driving today listening to my usual talk radio show and they started discussing the story. I realized that as upsetting as the whole situation is, it was the visual I had to avoid, not the information, so I listened and learned. I learned that it was even worse than I imagined. I learned about the suffering, and I listened to passionate people debate both sides, as if there were two sides. One lady called in and said she didn't blame the bleeper because dentists work with mercury and it certainly affected his brain. I listened to others talk about how some of the funds gained from big game hunts go to conservation. Unbelievable. Mostly, though, people were pissed and sad, just like me.

I just can't fathom the desire to kill an innocent creature for sport. The concept is beyond my realm of understanding.

So I finally heard the gory details of Cecil's takedown. But I still can't look.

And I know blog posts are better with pictures, but you won't see any in this one. #sorrynotsorry

Has anyone out there had a similar reaction?