Halloween can be scary for black cats

Meow, meow, meow.

Black cats are mysterious, alluring and surrounded in superstition. But they can also be targets during October, which is why local animal shelters limit or even prohibit their adoption during the season of ghastly ghouls, creepy crawlers and trick-or-treaters.

"Cats are often the victims of cruel pranks, and we’ve even had reports of satanic cruelty," says Cheryl Conway, spokesperson of the City of Aurora Animal Care Division, which doesn’t adopt out pure black or pure white cats for a couple of days before and after Halloween. The Humane Society in Englewood takes a similar approach, banning black cat adoptions for the entire month of October.

Satanic cruelty? While giving no specific examples, workers at a variety of shelters around town were all familiar with the fact that Satanist High Holy Day is on November 1, although sacrifices are supposed to be human. They also knew the name of the pagan holiday Samhain, which celebrates the cycle of life and death and can also include sacrifices, according to various ritual calendars.

Of course, the worst animal abusers are just regular people (see this recent Shmuck of the Week blog). So far this year, more than 1,300 animals have been abused, according to, a non-profit organization. The states with the most offenders were Florida (137), California (97) and New York (94), while Colorado accounts for 26 cases. Most of the offenses involve neglect or abandonment; very few cases reveal torture.

Which is why places like the Animal Rescue and Adoption Society (2390 South Delaware Street) are more lenient about the adoption of black cats around Halloween.

"Black cats are hard to adopt because of superstition, anyway," says staffer Katy Buchanan. And since adopters must pay a $60-$70 fee, obtain personal and veterinarian references, show a valid ID and undergo a background check in order to adopt a cat there, Buchanan doesn’t think people would go through all that trouble just to filet Fluffy. -- Elena Brown

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes