Persecution and Superstition Against Black Cats Big And Small
October 23, 2019
Big cats are dangerous animals and, in the wild, they can be misconstrued and are often killed for following their natural instincts. Even big cats born and bred in captivity still have their natural instincts. Spyke, for example, might have been raised at TCWR after his mother rejected him, but he still likes to ‘hunt’ team members and visitors through the fence; He will stalk and pounce at anything that catches his attention. He also loves to climb, a natural instinct for leopards, who tend to drag their prey into trees to protect it from scavengers and other predators. Acting on these wild instincts, Spyke can often be found demolishing pumpkins, paper bags, and any other enrichment item you place in his habitat.
In the wild, leopards, like Spyke, face major problems such as habitat loss and reduction of prey numbers. Leopards located near livestock farms will often find it much more convenient to make a meal out of the livestock than to hunt their natural prey; This causes conflict with the farmers and local towns and will often lead to the killing of the leopards. Habitat loss and trophy hunting also contribute to the decline in leopard populations.
These beautiful animals are also used symbolically. In some South African cultures, leopards are killed for their pelts to be worn as a sign of pride, beauty, and wealth. The myth that you can gain power from the pelt of an animal you kill is contributing to the population decline. Fortunately, many of these tribes are beginning to use faux fur pelts in the place of real pelts for these ceremonial purposes.
Around this time of year, black cats can be quite popular. They can be found in almost all Halloween movies, shows, and decorations. So yes, cats, even large ones like leopards, can have certain mythical or spiritual connections. These affiliations oftentimes lead to unfortunate circumstances, just like with leopards and the desire for their pelts.
Much like larger wild relatives, black domestic cats are unfairly judged, especially around Halloween. Unfortunately, some people see these cute little felines as bad luck or even as a sign of evil. Sometimes, these unfounded superstitions can lead to dangerous situations for our own little “house panthers” and “lap lions.”
During the month of October, many animal shelters across the country do not allow the adoption of black cats; Some places will not adopt out cats at all. Some shelters site the risk of torturing or killing black cats for cult rituals, or just acts of spite, as reason for the ban on adoption. People often only adopt black cats as props for Halloween, but then have no use for them after the festivities have ended. Because of this, many shelters have also seen a higher return or abandonment rate of black cats after Halloween.
Creating awareness and educating the public about the plight of cats, big and small, is vital to their futures. To learn more about leopards, visit our Leopard Species Page. You can also come to visit us on the evening of October 25th for our annual Howloween Spooktacular, to see that black cats, or black leopards like Spyke, aren’t always bad luck!