The More You Know

Pssst...Did You Hear the Latest One?

By Georgia Bockoven

Irresistible black kittens.

Rumors! Superstitions! Ever been the victim of one? Known anyone who has been? Think hard. Ah ha! I thought so! I detect a couple of you out there who think you’re immune, but think again.

Have you ever hesitated when a black cat crossed your path? Have you looked straight ahead as you walked past an adoption cage with a black cat extending her paw to you? Have you allowed even a fleeting thought to enter your mind that “where there’s smoke, there’s fire?” When it comes to black cats, you’ve been sucked into one of the oldest, meanest, most ruinous (for these loving, beautiful creations) rumor mills ever created. Explore with me the source of some of these accepted prejudices: the whys, the wherefores, and the devastating consequences.

Life was pretty good for our feline friends in ancient Egypt, where cats were considered gods. Cats? Gods? How in the world did this happen? It is believed that some clever folks realized how important cats were in controlling the rodent population, which, left unchecked, could decimate the crops and lead to starvation. The ensure the cats were protected, they were made gods. Things went even further when it became a crime punishable by death to kill a cat. When the household cat died, there were official mourning rites performed. Stray cats were fed and treated with respect. Life was good.

Cheers to you from Cheerio!

Jump forward a thousand-plus years, through periods of ignorance, fear, and a compulsive need to blame something or someone for whatever ill befell humanity. If lightning struck the castle, it couldn’t be dumb luck: it had to be an evil force, like the castle cat having a litter of black kittens, which would then have to be drowned immediately to make sure the castle was not struck again. Of course, lightning would strike twice, seeing as they built houses on the highest ground with lots of turrets that acted like lightning rods. No surprise!

Basic black, always in style!

Then along came Pope Gregory IX, who in 1233 denounced black cats as “satanic.” Millions were burned alive to “search out the Devil.” Caught in the hysteria, people swore they saw the cats dying in the flames turn into mice, dogs, and bats – big mistake! No cats equals lots of rats (plainly, the Egyptians forgot to pass this along). Lots of rats equals lots of fleas; fleas that carry disease; disease that kills people; lots and lots of people. Like, oh, half of the people living in all of Europe and up to two thirds in some of the more populated areas.

During this time, here and there, a few bright spots appeared within “enlightened” groups of people. The Celts announced that cats were once human and magical – a little nutty, but going in the right direction. They believed if one was killed, misfortune reigned (like plagues!). In England and Australia, black cats are considered lucky. Unfortunately, this positive superstition comes with a flip side that is bad: white cats are considered unlucky. Oh, please!

To meet a black cat is considered fortunate, but luck is only released if the cat is warmly greeted and stroked three times. It is speculated that a particularly clever black cat who enjoyed being petted started this rumor.

Another belief of suspicious origins is that whenever the household cat is black, there won’t be a lack of lovers for the women. Are all of you single listening?

Good omens:

  • A black cat on a ship
  • The wife of a sailor keeping a black cat ensures the sailor will return safely
  • Stroking a black cat’s tail over a sty will rid of the sty
  • A black cat crossing your path brings luck
  • Letting a black cat into your house is good luck
  • A strange black cat sitting on your porch brings good luck
  • Finding a white hair on a black cat brings good luck (if you don’t pluck it out)

Bad omens:

  • A black cat crossing your path brings bad luck
  • A black cat entering Shea Stadium in 1969 allegedly caused the collapse of the Cubs and loss of the division championship to the Mets (What about all of the other games and championships lost by the Cubs when there wasn’t a black cat involved?)

Tuxedo cats are always “dressed for the occasion”

Some of the well-informed individuals who have owned black cats include Cardinal Richelieu, Winston Churchill (his black cat sat next to him at cabinet meetings), Ernest Hemingway, Jethro Tull, Kim Novak, Raymond Chandler, Edgar Allen Poe, Fred Astaire, King Charles I, Henri Matisse, Mark Twain, John Lennon, Laura Bush, Bill Clinton, Mary Pickford, Frank Zappa, and our very own Joy Smith. Some unenlightened individuals who didn’t like cats of any color? Alexander the Great, Benito Mussolini, Genghis Khan, and Adolf Hitler. Notice a pattern here?

How did all of this nonsense about black cats get started? A lot of it is connected to witches and witch hunts. Again, when things go bad, people need someone or something to blame. For centuries, it was easy to focus on women, especially those who lived alone, like widows and spinsters. Frequently, these lonely women looked to cats for companionship, just as they do today. Both became easy targets for unspeakable cruelty. Cat and “witch” were often burned together for ludicrous “crimes.”

Regretfully, many of these unfounded and idiotic superstitions survive to this day in the subconscious of a large part of our population. They can be found in otherwise good-hearted people who refuse to even consider adopting a black cat, not even the one with the charming, playful personality or the ball of fluff who desperately needs a loving home to call her own whose only “flaws” are the color of their fur.

No one should adopt any cat for the color of his or her fur. After all, fur – like beauty – is only skin deep. Are you seeking a quiet companion who is content to snuggle close as you read your favorite author? Do you want an active, curious guy who is going to be at your side when the doorbell rings and will howl in protest when you try to lock him out of the bathroom? Do you want a long-haired beauty who will park herself at the front window to watch for you to come home, or are you more suited to one that will wake from a nap on the sofa to saunter down the hallway when he hears the key in the door?

Wonderful companions like these come in every cat color. All we ask is that you don’t overlook FieldHaven’s “black beauties.” Give them a minute or two to show you what amazing soulmates they can become, too! When you are won over and choose to join the ranks of John Lennon, Ernest Hemingway, and Kim Novak by bringing a black cat into your life, you will become one of the enlightened members of society who see a black cat for exactly what it is – a lifetime best friend.


Second Annual FieldHaven Barn & Book Sale

Saturday & Sunday
7:00 AM – 2:00 PM, September 15 & 16, 2007
FieldHaven Feline Center, 2754 Ironwood Lane, Lincoln, CA

Find some bargains for yourself while supporting FieldHaven’s rescue and adoption efforts.
Have items to donate? We’re accepting donations through September 9. For more information on the sale or donations, call us at (916) 434-6022 or visit our events page

FieldHaven Adoption Hours

Monday – Friday: 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Saturday: 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Closed Sundays

A TNR Success Story

Operation: Amoruso

By Joy Smith

Rescued Amoruso kittens get much needed love and care from neighborhood children.

Way out in West Lincoln, there’s a small, nearly-anonymous community thriving in the middle of the endless, flat ranchland. If you take a wrong turn on your way to Thunder Valley Casino, you may stumble across what used to be known as “Toad Hill,” now simply known as Amoruso Way.

Amoruso Way stretches for one mile, breaking up the barren ranch landscape with an abundance of lush trees and about one-hundred homes on well-kept small acreage lots. The residents of Amoruso Way savor their little secret and boast a low crime rate, friendly neighbors, and community events like the Annual 4th of July Fireman’s Breakfast, followed by a parade where the floats are pulled by lawn tractors. All in all, it’s an ideal place to raise a family. They even have their own community church – the First Church of the Garage.

However, Amoruso Way had a problem that many neighbors weren’t aware of. For several years, generations of unaltered cats had been living amongst the community, residing in barns and other outbuildings.

They survived on rodents, stolen food from residents’ pets, and handouts from a few kind people, but no one took responsibility for “owning” the cats and they freely bred until they were noticed as a “neighborhood nuisance.” Diane Hilbert, the unofficial “mayor” of Amoruso Way and Neighborhood Watch Coordinator, saw the problem and how it was getting worse when the 2007 kitten season arrived.

Diane C. setting traps

Diane contacted FieldHaven. Volunteers immediately got to work on Operation: Amoruso. Thanks to FieldHaven’s SNAP (Spay/Neuter Assistance Program), funded by PetSmart Charities, we were able to commit to financing the spaying and neutering of all of the cats and kittens. We also provided equipment, such as traps and cages, and transportation to the spay/neuter clinic. What we were short on was the people-power to trap, recover, and care for the cats, and we could not provide relocation for any of the adult feral cats. Residents didn’t mind caring for the altered cats, especially since they provided terrific rodent control.

Diane took on the daunting task of primary trapper, transporter, and recoverer. “Command Central” was established in Diane’s horse barn. Only one lone 30+ year old equine remained in the residence, as Diane had retired from riding years ago. This sweet old gentleman now shares his barn with an accumulation of cat cages, carriers, traps, and all of the supplies that go along with running a large scale TNR (trap, neuter, return) project.

In anticipation for the summer heat, Diane rigged up fans. Cages were spaced well apart to avoid cross-contamination of any illness. The always-reliable bleach and water cleaning protocols were implemented.

Diane communicates almost daily to FieldHaven volunteers, including SNAP coordinator Maryanne Sehl, relaying the status of the project. Early on, Diane began trapping a number of kittens. Most were healthy, but there were several that came from two very malnourished moms. After establishing we weren’t dealing with FeLV or panleukopenia, FieldHaven foster mom, Penny Dougherty, became the “ICU nurse” to give these sick kids a chance. Penny does an outstanding job and has an excellent track record of tiny saved lives to show for her round-the-clock dedication.

Yvonne Morales became the primary foster mom for healthier kittens, especially those needing socialization. She does such an excellent job with socialization, in fact, that her first Amoruso litter of six kittens were all adopted the first day they were presented!

Backup foster moms, Marry Sutton and Susanne Munkdale, take in the overflow that Yvonne and Penny don’t have room for. About a month into the project, another Diane entered the scene: Diane Cochran has foster experience and jumped in to help Diane H. Diane C. Helps with trapping, recovering, and caring for trapped kittens until being transferred to FieldHaven foster homes.

Diane Hilbert and Diane Cochran are coordinating the effort on Amoruso Way TNR project. Over 40 cats and kittens have been
rescued so far.

To date, Operation: Amoruso has spayed thirteen female cats and neutered two male cats. One very elderly, ill male was humanely euthanized. We have brought twenty-six kittens into FieldHaven’s foster program. Watch our website for updates as the project continues.

The quote “It Takes a Village” couldn’t apply more with Operation: Amoruso. The Amoruso “village,” especially Diane H. and Diane C., FieldHaven staff and volunteers, Animal Spay/Neuter, and PetSmart Charities (for providing the funding) have all come together to bring the cat population problem under control.

It seems as though what was once known as “Toad Hill” could now be called “Cat Hill.”

FieldHaven Alumni
FieldHaven Alumni


Hi everyone at FieldHaven!

Just some more photos of Powder as she is growing up! She is filling out well & is beginning to get a full coat of beautiful white fur – especially the cowl of white fluff around her neck! She plays ‘soccer’ with paper & comes running any time she hears paper being wadded up. She will play with one ‘ball’ for quite possibly an hour. She sleeps ON me every night. She curls up on my chest & puts her head under my chin, purring the whole time. She may move down between my husband and me, but doesn’t move at all & it quite content until my husband gets up in the morning. Then it’s his lap while he drinks his coffee & reads the internet news.

We love her!

The Harvey Family

FieldHaven Alumni


We adopted two of your cats last December. Wanted to let you know everyone is doing great. They are both wonderful cats Sonny is a little more independent but comes better when he is called. He loves to wrestle with Huey and is always hunting something or other. We love them both and are very thankful for your wonderful program.

Mark and Peggy D.

The More You Know

Teach Your Children About Pet Overpopulation

By Cindy Moore

Too Many Cats!

Foster mom, Yvonne Morales, shares her experiences of fostering kittens with a Lincoln classroom

Yes, we have too many cats and kittens with not enough homes for them all. Unfortunately, most of our children do not know the facts of pet life. When visiting classrooms in Lincoln in May, we asked the children what the words “spay” and “neuter” mean: the children were silent.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Community Foundation of Lincoln, about four-hundred Lincoln children now know what those words mean! The CLEAR project (City of Lincoln Education about Responsibility) was funded for the 2007 year by the Community Foundation of Lincoln. FieldHaven Feline Rescue Organization, working with the SCHOOLS group (Sun City Helping Our Outstanding Lincoln Schools,) developed an education program focused on understanding the need for spay and neutering pets and also, the importance of caring for our pets. At teacher request, a team of presenters visit the classroom and share age appropriate lessons with Lincoln students.

One lesson we share with students is a story about receiving a new kitty, who in turn has three litters of five kitties, who in turn… You get the idea. We soon have over 180 pictures of “magnetic” kitties on the board representing how many cats can be born in one year if their new beautiful kitty is not spayed.

Lincoln children learn about responsible pet ownership

Our goal is to make every Lincoln resident a lifelong responsible pet owner. We start with the children. In May, thanks to the fabulous coordinating efforts of Cindy Moore, we visited with four-hundred Lincoln students with fifteen hours of pet care presentations. The stars for the children are the animals that join them in the classroom. FieldHaven kitties or the presenter’s family dogs join the children during the lessons. The CLEAR project will continue, at teacher request, this fall.

Teachers can contact Thelma Ferguson at [email protected] or call FieldHaven at (916) 434-6022.

In the News

Bookstore Owner Honored for Supporting Animal Welfare Groups

Kelley Ulmer of Almost Perfect Bookstore has donated enough books to raise over $340,000 for local animal charities. The new store is 4 times larger than the previous location. It occupies the former site of Naturewood Furniture Store in the Raley’s shopping center at 1901 Douglas Blvd. in Roseville.

FieldHaven’s Board Member Sharon Kurth presented a first-ever Business Sponsor Certificate of Appreciation and Recognition Plaque to The Almost Perfect Bookstore owner, Kelley Ulmer, her employees, and their customers. Kelley and her customers have been donating books to benefit local animal welfare organizations since the used bookstore opened its doors some fifteen years ago. Present at the award was Lynn Willingham of Penryn who received used books from Kelley since the store opened its doors, raising over $340,000 for local animal charities. Lynn hosted frequent barn and book sales which ended in 2006 when she went into retirement from on-site sales at her home. More recently, Lynn continues to pick up about a thousand used books a day from Kelley and distributes them to local animal welfare agencies that hold sales themselves, to animal welfare thrift stores for resale, or to independent buyers whose purchases go directly to the animal welfare organizations. FieldHaven has been one of the organizations involved with used books for resale, earning $3,866 during 2006.

After 15 years in the same Roseville location, The Almost Perfect Bookstore managed to fit the inventory of 340,000 books into 2,400 square feet. Because browsing for titles was a challenge for her customers, Kelley moved the store into a new space four times bigger than its old one. Since March 1, The Almost Perfect Bookstore now occupies the former site of Naturewood Furniture Store in the Raley’s shopping center, (at 1901 Douglas Blvd., Roseville); the new location is only a short walk from where it started.

FieldHaven President, Joy Smith appreciates the support of both Lynn and Kelley. “We depend on them as resources for used books that makes our Annual Barn and Book Sale (held each September) so successful. We will call on both of them to help and they won’t let us down.”

Joy went on to say, “With so many nonprofits dependent upon contributions and fundraising as major sources of funding, it is South Placer County’s good fortune to have Lynn and Kelley helping to support animal welfare programs.”

Mature Cats for Mature People Adoption Event

10:00 AM – 1:00 PM, September 29
Sun City Lincoln Hills Sports Plaza, Lincoln, CA
Contact: Carol Mintz – (916) 434-8401

FieldHaven’s adult cat adoption program will place a loving cat in your arms and in your heart. We’ll waive adoption fees for senior kitties (6 years and older) adopted by folks 60 years and older.

Lower your blood pressure the natural way: Research supports evidence that owning a pet has positive health benefits.

Events and Adoptions

Microchip Clinic

3rd Saturday of each month
Ben’s Bark Avenue, 800 Sterling Parkway #30, Lincoln, CA

PetSmart Adoptions

2nd and 4th Saturdays and 2nd Sunday of each month
10363 Fairway Drive, Roseville, CA

3rd Saturday and Sunday of each month
920 Groveland Lane, Lincoln, CA

Petco Adoptions

Sunday through Friday
6672 Lonetree Boulevard, Rocklin, CA

Barn and Book Sale

September 15 – 16
FieldHaven Feline Center
2754 Ironwood Lane, Lincoln, CA

Mature Cat Adoption Event

10:00 AM to 1:00 PM, September 29
Sun City Lincoln Hills Sports Plaza, Lincoln, CA