In recent weeks, a rash of cat mutilations in San Antonio, Texas, has
garnered much attention and some speculation that the killings are
linked to religious rituals.
So far five cats have been found either missing limbs or
severed in half. Officials say the cuts are clean, showing that the
acts are the work of an individual or group—not wild animals.
"Around this time of year, around San Antonio, there's an
increased number of cats that we find mutilated," said Elizabeth Brown
of the city's Animal Care Services.
The city-run shelter has had a long-standing policy of suspending black cat adoptions prior to Halloween.
Brown said the reason is to prevent cats from being harmed by
religious cults or demented individuals. A recent mutilation case
involved an aspiring forensic investigator who practiced on felines,
Another San Antonio shelter spokesperson, Lisa Norwood, said
she wasn't aware of any local cases involving cat-killing cults.
However, the shelter has heard anecdotal reports of the phenomenon
occurring elsewhere, she said.
"The temporary suspension of adoptions is an issue of being safe rather
than sorry," Norwood added. "It's not because we expect something to
happen. It's because we want to prevent something from happening."
San Antonio isn't the only city concerned about cats' safety.
A handful of shelters call the Humane Society of the United States each year asking if they should enact a similar policy.
Michael Arms, who conducts animal adoption workshops throughout the country, often gets asked the same question.
"There are a lot of organizations out there that still have this
fear," said Arms, president of the Helen Woodward Animal Center in
Rancho Santa Fe, California. "It's silly."
Before Arms was hired in 1999, the shelter had a no-black-cats adoption policy around Halloween.
Arms got rid of the restriction. He said a solid screening
process of adopters is all that's needed to make sure the animals go to
Denying adoptions only gives the public the wrong idea about black cats, he said.
"It makes people believe these kitties are evil, and they're not," Arms said. "They're lovable."
Copyright: National Geographic