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Dec 18, 2018 1:12 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

ARF Has No Shortage Of Black Cats Up For Adoption

Pumpkin, one of the many black cats up for adoption at the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons.   ELIZABETH VESPE
Jan 2, 2019 12:26 PM

Cheryl, a black female cat a bit under 2 years old, sat at the entryway office of the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons on a recent Friday afternoon. As she rustled her fur up against the glass window, people walking past her inside couldn’t help but pet her soft and shiny coat. Cheryl is one of about a dozen of the black felines that have been at the shelter for a long time. Black cats are less likely to be adopted compared to colorfully patterned cats, according to ARF’s staff.

Halloween decorations, witches and the myth that black cats bring bad luck come to mind for some when thinking about black cats.

“They are harder to adopt,” Rita Del Rey, Operation Cat coordinator, said at ARF’s shelter in Wainscott. “If there’s a litter of four kittens, usually the black one is the last to get adopted.”

The myth about black cats bringing bad luck is believed to have started in the 1600s, when black cats were associated with the practice of witchcraft and the Salem witch trials. “People sometimes think they’re unlucky,” Ms. Del Rey said.

On the flip side, in countries such as Japan and England, it’s believed they bring good luck, according to Jamie Berger, the marketing and communications director for ARF.

“We like to think about the positives,” Ms. Del Rey said.

“Superstitions aren’t as much of a big deal anymore,” adoption director Melissa Tiska said while holding a feisty 6-month-old black kitten named Paulie. “It used to be, if you crossed paths with a black cat, you’d have bad luck.”

The cats are housed in two rooms filled with toys, scratching posts, beds and even a fish tank—not too shabby. Pumpkin, just a little over 1 year old, and a litter mate, Puddin, both completely black, checked out guests who entered the cat room by brushing against their legs. They also continued to play and pounce at each other, as young kittens do.

About half of the cats in the room were black.

“Black dogs and black cats sometimes get overlooked, because the other colored and patterned animals pop out more,” Ms. Berger said. “The eye might be drawn to an orange tabby or a white cat.”

Ebby, a 9-year-old black domestic short-hair, relaxed in her bed, while Jaylee, just shy of 2 years old, and a litter mate, Irving, playfully ran around. Woody, a 2-year-old, lounged in his bed at the top of a post, while Pia, a 7-year-old female, chowed down on some kibbles.

“The kittens get most of the attention,” Ms. Berger said. “If you miss the window of them as kittens, sometimes they do get overlooked.”

In addition to black cats, ARF has trouble adopting out senior cats. “Sometimes, the owner passes away, or the owner reaches a point where they can no longer care for the animal,” Ms. Berger said. Cats have a life span of 15 to 25 years.

“My cat lived to be 22,” Ms. Tiska said.

“We recommend that people come into the cat rooms, and see the personality of the cat rather than look for a certain color or pattern,” Ms. Tiska said.

Last year, a majority of the 250 kittens adopted out came to ARF locally, having been born in the wild within the Town of East Hampton. ARF has been trapping, neutering and releasing cats in Montauk, Amagansett, East Hampton and Sagaponack through a program called Operation Cat that took place at the end of October, resulting in 70 cats being trapped, neutered and released, bringing the total number of free feral cat surgeries in 2018 to 1,052.

Since Operation Cat's inception in 1997, over 25,000 feral cats from Speonk to Montauk and most recently the Brookhaven township have been altered.

Last week, ARF’s medical team, led by Dr. Christine Asaro, fixed 31 cats in one day while at an off-site clinic in Brookhaven Town, according to Ms. Berger.

For more information, visit www.arfhamptons.org.

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Black cats are the absolute BEST! They are smart, have lively personalities, and are very affectionate with their servants ... I mean owners. I’ve been immeasurably blessed to have had two in my life. Please go adopt one of these kitties if you are wanting to add a little furry love in your life.
By localEH (427), East Hampton on Dec 20, 18 2:07 PM
Black cats are purring works of art and I've always preferred their glossy sleek coats to the duller colors. They're very mysterious, and awesome!
By pigroast (100), East Quogue on Dec 20, 18 9:15 PM

The sweetest cat I ever owned was black. I've lost count of how many cats I've had over the years, but my Pearl was the best. The day it came for her to cross the rainbow bridge she liked the tears off my face as if to say "It's ok Mom, I'm ready..I love you too" My beautiful angel-my heart still feels empty since you left.
By Auntie am (5), Center Moriches on Dec 22, 18 3:57 PM