• author
    • Debra DeAngelo

    • September 27, 2014 in Columnists

    Miniature panthers make the sweetest pets


    Black cats aren’t decorations, and they aren’t bad luck. My little Minnie is the sweetest pet ever.

    Halloween decorations are everywhere now, especially spooky black cats. People just love black cats in October, and avoid crossing their paths the rest of the year. Given their prominence this time of year, it’s the perfect time to bust a few myths and bust out a few facts about black cats.

    The irrational fear of black cats began during medieval times when they were associated with “witches” (elderly widows with knowledge of herbal medicine), who were routinely murdered by the Church. Medieval people feared the Church, so they feared “witches” and black cats too. And so, a superstition was born.

    We’re no longer afraid of old women who know how to cure nausea with ginger, but we’re still afraid of black cats. We don’t even know why, only that we’re supposed to be. Admit it — do you react differently when a black cat crosses your path as opposed to any other color? Congratulations, you’re superstitious. We can cure that disease with some facts.

    ~   The only bad luck involved is for the black cat itself. Not only does their color trigger humans to think and act irrationally, but they’re twice as likely not to be adopted and therefore twice as likely to be euthanized.

    ~   Before being associated with “witches,” the black cat was so beloved by the Egyptian goddess Bastet that she is often depicted with the head of a black cat. Some sculptures of Bastet are simply a black cat, adorned in golden jewelry. In ancient Egypt, cats were considered to be incarnations of Bastet, and to harm one was a crime.

    ~   Black cats may actually be healthier than other colors, because the gene that causes the solid black color also carries resistance to some diseases.

    ~   A black cat is a miniature black panther. How cool is that? Now you want one, don’t you!

    If these facts haven’t changed your mind about black cats, maybe my own story will.

    maggie & sign 009

    This is the photo that stole my heart. Known as Maggie to her Pet Tales Rescue foster mother, I renamed her Minnie because she is very tiny — only about 9 pounds, fully grown.

    After my furry boys died, one after the other of polycystic kidney disease, I only made it a month cat-free, and couldn’t take it anymore. I was searching for cats on the Cat Tales Rescue website, looking for more Norwegian Forest Cats, which are almost impossible to find and very expensive if you do, and happened upon a sad little black kitten with huge eyes that just plucked at my heart. I called Cat Tales, and the volunteer, Shawn, said Minnie was scheduled to be euthanized at an animal shelter and she spotted her, took her home, agreeing to keep her until someone wanted her. Eight months later, Shawn was still taking Minnie to the weekly adoption days, where she was passed up over and over.


    I had to go see her at the next adoption day, which happened to be a “two for one” special on black cats. Several volunteers brought their inventory, and it was a shocker. SO MANY… all black, staring through the stacked cages, meowing plaintively, thrusting their silken paws through the bars trying to grab you as if to say, “please take me home.” It was heartbreaking.

    When I saw Minnie, I understood why no one wanted her. She was cowering with her face in her paws, as her pure white cagemate licked her frantically as if soothing her. Shawn said Minnie hated coming to Petco and was afraid of the dogs.

    I picked Minnie up and she hid her face against my arm, refusing to make eye contact. I thought, “There’s something wrong with her.” But then I picked up the white clown in her cage, and there was no way I was leaving him behind.

    Heart. Stolen.

    Since they were already bonded, I took them both — so much easier than introducing two adult cats to each other. (Of course I needed two!) I figured Maxx would be my pet, and Minnie would be his.

    I got them home, and Maxx bounced all around while Minnie crouched in the corner and stared at the ground. My husband declared her brain-damaged. Eh. As long as she uses the litter box and keeps Maxx company, I can live with that. So, over the months, I played with Maxx and just let Minnie be Minnie — no pressure. She seemed to enjoy being near us, but not being held or touched, and I noticed something peculiar: Minnie’s meow was broken. She only makes little squeaking sounds like a puppy, and it hit me: she’d probably been strangled (and worse) as a kitten, and her vocal chords were crushed. Her life began with human cruelty.

    My heart just melted for her upon that realization, and reinforced my dedication to make no demands on her at all, just provide her a safe and comfortable life. And then, one day, I’m on the recliner, and suddenly… Minnie pops up onto my chest, staring right into my eyes.

    I didn’t dare exhale.

    Then, she started kneading me like kittens do to their mothers, her little claws shredding my skin into hamburger, but I didn’t flinch. This was a miracle moment. And then, slowly, she laid down right over my heart and… began to purr.


    Minnie is particularly fascinated with my desk and my computer — probably because I play YouTube bird videos for her sometimes.

    From that moment on, Minnie was transformed. She’s not so keen on anyone else, but she clearly adores me. When she’s not curled on my lap, she’s tossing her toys around or sitting in a sunbeam watching birds outside, and it’s abundantly clear: Minnie is happy. She’s peaceful. She feels safe. I’m not sure anything has given me the satisfaction of earning the love and trust of this sad, dejected little creature.

    So, this is the story of one little black cat that beat the odds and got a chance for a happy life. There are a lot more Minnies out there. If you’re considering adopting a cat, consider a miniature panther of your own. You couldn’t ask for a sweeter pet.


    Minnie also love pens, especially knocking all of them to the floor from my desk. The papers come next.


    Minnie and Maxx are still very attached to each other. You can see how small she is, compared to Maxx, who is just average sized.


    Minni loves to sit in a sunbeam by the window, watching birds and contemplating life. She is safe and content now.


      • Maya North

      • September 28, 2014 at 7:36 pm
      • Reply

      This made me weep. I have 5 chihuahuas and suddenly the worst kitten hunger. I’ll honestly take two of anything as long as they’ll use a litterbox… <3

      • Aww…. but it’s a happy story! And I totally understand “kitten hunger.” Even “grown cat” hunger! Go adopt two black rescue kitties!

          • Maya North

          • September 30, 2014 at 9:12 pm

          After I get the trailer in order — and I have to get kitties who won’t pee anywhere but the potty box. But yeah, black rescue kitties sound awfully good right now <3

        • Oh, I have a hard and fast rule… either they pee in the litter box ONLY… or they live outside.

    • I had a black cat in grad school named Hester, yes, that Hester. She used to run down my long hall, jump in the bathtub, and then run the long hall again. Bewitched and fun.

      • Even black cats go berserk from time to time… tearing all over the house for no reason… that WE can see! 😉

      • Donna Hanna

      • April 20, 2015 at 9:25 am
      • Reply

      Yes, another very wonderful story! I think you have a new fan!! Will put this site on my start page, so I can read more articles….have many fans from WV?
      I truly love my black cat, evil during the day, but let me go to bed and she is right there, getting under the covers, lying body to body as I give her the loving pets she denies during the day, purring to the high heavens as I tell her what a good girl she is, and sing her some instantly made up song about my little Bella Rue. She gets all snuggled in for the night and when I tell her good night my little Bella Rue, she puts her paw in my hand for me to hold, and when I wake her paw is lightly lying on my face with all the love she can muster, still lying body to body and she is stretched out like a little human. Just like yours Debra, she likes only me and doesn’t want anybody else to even look at her, so if the dogs alert someone is in the driveway she hides, usually under my bed. She will sometimes like my husband, but only if he has cheese popcorn.
      Thanks for leading me to this story!

      • Glad you are enjoying my columns! 😀 I love new fans… you may be the first from WV!
        As for black cats – I have such a soft spot for them ever since I discovered that they are the most likely to be euthanized, simply because of their color. And they are wonderful, sweet, mellow pets. I read that there is a “mellow” gene located on the gene for the all-black color. Pretty cool, huh?
        And – thanks for sharing iPinion with others! 🙂

    Leave a Comment