August 17th is Black Cat Appreciation Day and if you think it’s strange that these felines need a day of their own then catch a look at Layla Morgan Wilde’s compelling anthology of black cat stories.
It’s a must-have/must-read for any devotee of those irascible, unpredictable creatures (full disclosure: I’ve had cats for close to fifty years). They’ve gotten a bad rap — historically speaking — so bad, in fact, that in the United States a feline of this color has a 50% less chance of being adopted. Obviously, the association with the “dark side” — witches and all that — feeds into all sorts of primal fears and prejudices making these bad for these creatures.
Layla, founder of catwisdom101.com, passionately believes that a new day is dawning for these highly adoptable animals:
It’s time for a new perspective. Black cat lives matter and to judge a cat simply by the color of their fur is discrimination. The world is full of fear or ignorance of something or someone different. We fear what we don’t understand. That mysterious unknown gets twisted and embedded culturally, generation after generation. That’s how myths are created, like the superstition that black cats are evil. Black cat lives matter. It’s time to stop the prejudice.
With over 100 featured cats — including Cole of Cole and Marmalade fame — this collection of positive, black cat stories (a first of its kind) are narrated by the felines themselves and Layla features them in a variety of situations from, as she puts it:
lounging, working, enjoying outdoor adventures, strutting their model poses, playing and celebrating holidays
In short: doing what all cats do, celebrity or otherwise.
Others weighing in with their support and offering glowing blurbs include Gwen Cooper, New York Times bestselling author of Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life With a Blind Wonder Cat.
Passionate about her goal to re-brand black cats Layla sees the publication of the book as a first step in a comprehensive outreach effort to convince potential adopters to look beyond the prejudice and misconceptions and consider providing a black cat with a forever home.
Layla, who grew up in Canada, has been doing good things for felines since she founded the Toronto-based, non-profit, Annex Cat Rescue in 1997, and has continued her advocacy on behalf of this furry community since arriving in New York in 2001. While attending many cat conferences and get-togethers she found time to make an appearance - with her one-eyed cat Odin - on a 2011 Daily Show segment, “Sophie’s Choice,
Last November she took the plunge and adopted her first black cat, Clyde — a senior — who had been given up by an owner too old to care for him. Luckily, he was handed over to a wonderful shelter in Norwalk, Connecticut called PAWS.
Clyde — still spirited at age seventeen — joined Layla’s three-cat brood and after getting comfortable with his new surroundings seemed eminently grateful to find a stable foster home. He’s also a special needs cat — diabetic and with kidney disease — but Layla’s tender touch has given him a new lease on life.
Layla’s book is available through her website, catwisdom101.com, and all profits from her initial offering will be donated to support the work of Milo’s Sanctuary; a non-profit shelter devoted to rescuing and caring for special needs cats.
Joel Sucher, along with Steven Fischler, is a founder of Pacific Street Films and has written for a number of platforms including American Banker, In These Times, HuffPost and Observer. com On occasion he’s been known to pen a blog or two on the subjects of cats and the strange world(s) they inhabit.