Good Luck for Black Cats

Tiger Lily is full of love for everyone she meets. Unlike most cats, you can carry her on her back and she stretches out in relaxed pleasure. Tiger Lily plays with abandon and it’s impossible not to laugh at her antics.

“Dazzle is one of the smartest cats I have ever met,” said Hollywood animal trainer, Joel Silverman on a recent visit to the shelter. Silverman has trained Dazzle to perform several tricks, which he learned with ease.

In spite of their many charms, Tiger Lily and Dazzle have been waiting for weeks at the shelter to be adopted. They share one common characteristic; they are black.

Black cats in shelters wait longer for homes than cats of any other color. It seems most people are drawn to the more visually striking calicos and tabbies, overlooking the plainer black-coated cats, never getting to know their delightful personalities.

It is possible that old superstitions are a factor, but the bad-luck myth is far from universal.  In England and Japan, owning a black cat is thought to bring good fortune. Single women in Japan once sought black cats as pets because they were believed to draw many suitors. Scottish folklore holds that a black cat is a sign of future prosperity. Black cats were once desired as ships cats as they were believed to enhance the odds of a safe journey.  In ancient Egypt, the black cat personified the goddess Bast and sharing your home with one was sure to bring blessings.

There have been many famous black cats: Steinlen’s elegant poster cat, Felix the cat, President George Bush’s cat named India, and Hello Kitty’s friend Chococat, to name a few.  

Some scientists are suggesting that black cats may be the healthiest of cats. Owners of black cats are discerning individuals who see beauty in an animal that others overlook. Any fashionista will tell you that black is sophisticated and always in style.

Even so, the plight of black cats is so well-known in shelter circles that one writer quipped; “If a black cat crosses someone’s path at an animal shelter, that cat will be overlooked.”

You can help change that, perhaps start a new trend, by adopting a black cat this month at a local animal shelter. This week at Nevada Humane Society you can adopt a black cat —we have dubbed them mini-panthers for their resemblance to their exotic cousins—for only $5. 

Events that Help Animals

Adopt a Mini-Panther (black cat) through March 11 for $5 at Nevada Humane Society, 2825 Longley Lane in Reno. Open for pet adoption 7 days a week 11 am to 6:30 an hour earlier at 10 am Saturdays.

Doggie Palooza March 10: Dog training demos, book signing, pet supplies and dog-themed art marketplace, adoptions and more. Free at Nevada Humane Society. Call 775-856-2000 for more information.

Pledges for Pets, Telethon benefits the SPCA of Northern Nevada, March 11, 4 to 8 pm. Visit


What’s In a Pet’s Name?

In spite of having named many pets in animal shelters over the years, naming my own pets can still be challenging. While some of their names have come to me instantly and seem a perfect fit, for others nothing seems quite right. I ended up giving one dynamic little cat a temporary name, Girly, only until I could find a name that really suited her. I never found that ideal name and Girly ended up lasting all of her 16 years.  

I have friends who go for descriptive, if long, pet names. Two of my favorites have been Square-Head and That-Naughty-Girl.

Surveys show that more than half of all pets have human names bestowed upon them. Many other names are based on appearance or personality. Some are inspired by the nation of origin for their breed, like the French Poodle named Pierre.

Some people hesitate to rename an adopted pet, but animals are very adaptable and learn a new name quickly, so it’s best to choose a name that resonates with you. Many animals arrive at the shelter as nameless strays and a name is promptly assigned. Others come with names that will hinder their adoption;  Monster, Stink Bomb Betty, or Chainsaw, for example. These are quickly changed.

Recently, the most popular pet names of 2011 were released by one of the many experts who comment on these things. They were: Buddy, Lucy, Max, Smokey, Daisy, Bella, Charlie, Tiger, Molly, and Oreo. A pet health Insurance company released their more colorful listing of the wackiest pet names, including: Franco Furter, Ozzy Pawsbourne, Corporal Cuddles, Beagle Lugosi and Cat Masterson.

 When you pick a name for a new pet, keep in mind that you will say this name often and quite likely in public. It’s usually best to pick something that will not attract shocked stares when you call it out at the dog park.

Short, two-syllable pet names are easiest for your pet to learn and recognize. If you have your heart set on a long name ― like Rumplestiltskin, Sergeant Scruffernutter, or Colonel Mustard ― you can always shorten it for routine use.

One pet name study pointed out that whatever we call our pets probably says more about us than them. That’s most likely true, but a name is important to a pet too, as it is an early step in developing a special bond between person and new animal friend.

Events that Help Homeless Pets:

Mardi Gras Pet Adoption Promotion – Through February 26 at Nevada Humane Society. Most adult dogs are $50 and adult cats are $20. Come to the Mardi Gras Parade on February 25 at 11 am. Open daily for pet adoptions 11 am to 6:30 pm and an hour earlier at 10 am on Saturdays. Call 775-856-2000 for more information.

The Summit Adoption Center open Saturdays & Sundays in February from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Located at 13925 South Virginia Street, Suite 405, next to Hollister and Sunglass Hut, near Starbucks.

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