Five cages. All empty but one.
Home to a five-month-old tiny fur ball, Noelle.
Her adoption papers indicate she was an owner surrender, which means she simply wasn’t wanted anymore. Like her recently adopted counterparts, she has four paws, two eyes and a warm personality.
The only difference? The colour of her fur. She’s black.
“Black cats are less likely to be adopted and it’s quite unfortunate,” Erika Daniels says. “They’re overlooked too often.”
Daniels volunteers as a screener at Toronto Cat Rescue (TCR), one of the city’s largest no-kill, non-profit cat rescue shelters. She interviews prospective adopters to make sure the cats and the adoptive parents are a good fit for each other. She was at the PetSmart Adoption Weekend event in Leaside on Nov. 10 helping to find homes for various felines.
Daniels isn’t imagining that black cats take longer to adopt than any other breed. According to Peta2.com, black cats are two-thirds less likely to be adopted than their white counterparts.
For centuries, black cats have been associated with witchcraft and Satanism in popular culture. Take Salem in Sabrina the Teenage Witch and the nameless murderous feline in The Black Cat, for example.
Such portrayals have woven themselves into people’s perception and are reinforced by myths such as the one that says if black cat crosses your path, it’s an omen for bad luck.
Fortunately for kittens, the innocence of children can do a lot to change the narrative, as was the case with Noelle.
The Tripodi family recently lost their 10-year-old rabbit and were in the market for a new pet. Brothers Jaxson, 5, and Dylan 16 months, didn’t think twice about the colour of Noelle’s fur. All they knew is they had come to PetSmart with one intention — to adopt a cat, preferably two.
They were disappointed that most of the cats had already been adopted, until Jaxson laid eyes on Noelle.
“I could pet her all day,” he said, stroking her soft fur. “Please, mommy. This one.”
Their grandfather, Tom Stein, and their mom, Alyson Tripodi, agreed without hesitation. They paid their adoption fee, purchased some cat essentials and were on their way.
Another cat adopted, whether black, cinnamon or ginger, is always a win for TCR.
Lead volunteer Todd Burgess says on average they help 2,500 cats find new homes each year. Outside of the adoption events, interested individuals can visit their website to adopt.
“For a lot of people, cats bring them happiness in their home,” Burgess said. “A lot of people are better (off) for having cats and we just want to give a loving and deserving cat a great forever.”
And Jaxson has promised to do just that.
“I would never get rid of my cat,” he said. “She’s cute and I like her to get used to our house and she’s welcome to our family.”