A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Black cats make the best pets

Above: Midnight the Cat and Andy Devine, two of the stars (along with Froggy the Gremlin) of "Andy's Gang." Do you remember what Midnight said when she meowed? Answer at the bottom of the column.

The English are different from us. They drive on the left, and their steering wheels are on the right. And in England, a black cat is a sign of good luck, not bad - which is why black cats have no problem getting adopted over there.
But it's a different story over here. Black cats usually have to wait two or three times as long for a new home as other felines.
It's a stupid superstition. As Groucho Marx observed, "A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere." But people still believe it.
That's why Island Cat Resources and Adoption is holding a special Black Cat Adoption Day on Saturday, Sept. 26, at Petco, 2310 South Shore Center in Alameda, from Noon until 4 p.m.
Many of the cats will be kittens - specifically, former ferals that ICRA rescued when they were so young, they were able to be socialized.
Older ferals usually can't be socialized because they are too set in their ways. So they are humanely trapped, spayed and neutered, and returned to their cat colonies, where they don't produce any more kittens.
But feral kittens, on the other hand, make terrific pets. And I ought to know because my own cat, Phoebe, was a feral kitten.
She was scared of me for the first few days; but once she figured out that I wasn't going to eat her, she did a complete flip-flop. Now I couldn't ask for a sweeter, more attentive, more affectionate kitty.
ICRA will have 30 black cats and kittens ready for adoption on the 26th, including Daryle and Kenda, a pair of little cuties who were born across from the Raiders' practice facility, and Choco, who is remarkably loving and trusting despite the fact that one of his eyes was gouged out by an abusive so-called human being.
And if you can't make it to Petco, you can view the kittens at ICRA's web site, www.icraeastbay.org. You can also use the site to donate money or volunteer your services.
ICRA cares for homeless cats in Alameda and Oakland. Its counterpart in Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville, Piedmont, El Cerrito and Richmond is another group called Fix Our Ferals.
FOF is kicking off its fifth annual Winter Campaign for Cats this weekend, and it's seeking volunteers to help trap and spay or neuter homeless neighborhood cats in all these cities, as well as provide foster homes to socialize them.
There will be a volunteer orientation this weekend, on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society, 2700 9th Street in Berkeley, from 10 a.m. to noon. If you can't make the meeting, you can still volunteer. Just call 510-908-8515 or e-mail rebeccamarshallfof@yahoo.com. For more information about volunteering or donating, visit www.fixourferals.org.
I've been writing about ICRA and FOF for years, and I'm constantly amazed by how much they accomplish with so little. There is no paid staff; everyone is a volunteer.
There's also no shelter - which, paradoxically is an advantage. Instead of living in cages, the cats are fostered in private homes, many with dogs or kids, so they're well accustomed to life in the real world.
If you're thinking of adopting a new cat or kitten - or, better yet, a pair of cats or kittens - this is the first place I'd look.

(Answer: Midnight said, "Nice!")