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  • AnimalAdvocacy@yahoogroups.com
    Please pass it along to anyone you know who does shelter or rescue work. Heartwarming black cats story Black Jellybeans By Margie Seyfer I ve never read an
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 31, 2006
      Please pass it along to anyone you know who does shelter or rescue
      work.

      Heartwarming "black cats" story

      Black Jellybeans
      By Margie Seyfer

      I've never read an official study on the matter,
      but I've noticed that in animal shelters, black cats
      are the most overlooked. Black seems to be the least
      preferred of cat colors, ranking below all
      combinations of white, orange, gray, spotted and
      striped. Black cats are still stereotyped as
      Halloween cats, creatures of bad luck, more
      appropriate on a witch's broomstick than curled up on
      your pillow. To make matters worse, in cages, black
      cats become close to invisible, fading into the dark
      shadows in the back of a stainless-steel cage.

      For eleven years, starting when I was ten years
      old, I volunteered at an urban animal shelter. It
      always struck me as particularly unfair that, time
      after time, I'd get to know affectionate, adorable
      black cats, only to watch them be passed over by
      adopters merely because of their color. I assumed
      there was nothing that could be done.

      One day, many years into my work at the shelter,
      I spent a few minutes petting a sweet, black
      half-grown kitten, who had been found as a stray and
      brought to the shelter. The slender thing purred
      warmly at my attention, gently playful as she patted
      my hand with one paw. I thought about what a shame it
      was that the kitten was already too big to be adopted
      on baby-kitten appeal alone, and so solidly black that
      most people wouldn't even pause in front of her cage.
      I noticed there was no name written on the
      informational card on her cage. Since volunteers were
      welcome to name the strays that came to the shelter, I
      thought for a moment about what I could name this
      black kitten. I wanted to think of a name that could
      give the kitten the kind of appealing "color" that
      might encourage an adopter to take a second look. The
      name Jellybean popped into my head, and I wrote it on
      the card, just as I'd named thousands of cats in the
      past.

      I was taken entirely by surprise when, later that
      afternoon, I overheard a woman walking through the cat
      room say, "Jellybean! What a wonderful name!" She
      stopped to look more closely at the kitten, now
      batting at a piece of loose newspaper in the cage.
      She asked me if she could hold Jellybean, and, as I
      opened the cage, I sheepishly admitted that the kitten
      didn't know her name, as I'd named her just hours
      before. I lifted her into the woman's arms, and the
      kitten leaned into the woman, looking up into her eyes
      with a purr of kitten bliss. After a few minutes, the
      woman told me that she'd like to adopt this black
      kitten, and, when the paperwork was approved a few
      days later, she took Jellybean home.

      I was pleased, of course - adoptions were always
      what nourished my soul - but I chalked it up to a
      lucky break for one black kitten, and moved on.

      I was surprised again a few weeks later when the
      woman came back to the shelter. She found me
      refilling water bowls in a cat room and said, "You
      were the one who helped me adopt that black kitten a
      few weeks ago, remember? Jellybean? I know you were
      the one who named her, and I've been wanting to stop
      back to thank you. She's the sweetest thing - I just
      love her to pieces. But I don't know if I would have
      noticed her if she hadn't had that great name. It
      just suits her perfectly. She's so bouncy and
      colorful - I know that sounds crazy. Anyway, I wanted
      to say thank you."

      I told her I was touched that she had stopped by
      and thrilled to hear that Jellybean was doing well in
      her new home. Then I explained how I thought black
      cats were often unfairly overlooked and admitted the
      name had been my conscious attempt to get someone to
      notice a cat who would probably not have been adopted
      otherwise. She said, "Well, it worked! You should
      name all the black cats Jellybean."

      I smiled politely at the suggestion, thinking to
      myself that this woman knew nothing of the harsh
      realities of animal shelters. Just because I named
      one kitten Jellybean and it had gotten adopted didn't
      mean anything - it had just been a stroke of luck.
      Black cats were still black cats, after all, and most
      people didn't want them.

      As the day went on, I kept thinking about the
      woman's advice: "You should name all the black cats
      Jellybean." As crazy as it seemed, I decided I had
      nothing to lose. Pen in hand, I walked along the
      cages, looking for a black cat without a name. There
      was only one, a small black kitten alone in a cage,
      sleeping. I wrote "Jellybean" on its cage card.
      Later that afternoon, someone came along and said
      they'd like to adopt that little Jellybean. Well, I
      thought to myself, that wasn't really a fair test - it
      was so cute and tiny.

      A few days later, a nameless black cat came
      along, fully grown. I named it Jellybean. It was
      adopted. Days later, another. Adopted. The process
      repeated itself enough times that, after a while, I
      had to admit that maybe there was some magic in the
      name, after all. It began to seem morally wrong not
      to name black cats Jellybean, especially ones who had
      a bounce in their step and a spark of joy in their
      eyes. Although I'd usually refrained from using the
      same name for more than one cat, after a while, my
      fellow volunteers ceased to be surprised when they
      came across another of my Jellybeans.

      Of course, we'll need more far-reaching solutions
      to ensure that every cat has a home. But for my black
      Jellybeans, sitting in sunny windows, sniffing at
      ladybugs walking across the kitchen floor, snuggling
      in beds with their adopted people, a name made all the
      difference. "Jellybean" allowed some humans to see
      beyond a dark midnight coat into the rainbow of riches
      in a cat's heart.
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