When is a black cat like a unicorn?

Valerie Hayes

Now may be your chance to adopt a creature so rare, few have ever seen one.  Only a handful of these creatures come into existence each year, and how they do so is is a mystery.  They are so rare, that some question that they exist at all.

Here’s a picture of the animal in question:

Midnight, a cat up for adoption from PETA.

Midnight, one of the rarest of the rare.

You may be thinking that I’ve lost my mind.  “That is a black cat.  My local shelter and rescue groups have dozens of black cats available for adoption,”  you say.

Ah, yes.  Midnight, if she is even real,  is different.  Very, very different.

Midnight is apparently being offered for adoption by PETA.

Yes, PETA, the folks who brought you the Piggly Wiggly Dumpster Incident in 2005.  The ones who brought you the Woo-Hoo You’re Gonna Kill Again! Gift Basket Incident last month.  The ones who support continued killing and viciously attack No Kill efforts.  The ones who have killed nearly every pet they have gotten their hands on in 20042005, 2006, 20072008, 20092010, and 2011.*   They’ve killed over 25,000 healthy and treatable pets in the past ten years, and they show no sign of intending to slow down or stop.  Some consider PETA to be a destructive cult.

Given this backdrop of death, untrustworthiness,  and downright craziness, you’ll have to excuse me for being a bit skeptical.

  • The story and pictures are pretty generic, as is the cat’s name.  It seems to cater to the uncritical.
  • There are no external links to news stories of the rescue which would confirm it’s validity.
  • Midnight is a black cat, which means she lacks the unique identifying markings one would see on a calico, piebald, tortoiseshell, or even tuxedo cat.  The pictures could be any black cat.  This would make any ‘proof of life’ questionable.
  • Why wouldn’t the cat just climb back down the tree on her own power?  The picture of the cat in the tree shows what looks like an easy climb for a cat able-bodied enough to get up on her own power.
  • Surviving ten days up a tree without water sounds a bit far-fetched to me.  Even if the cat could lick dew-drops off of the leaves (assuming there were any dew-drops), I doubt it would be enough to sustain life for ten days.
  • Is this story a reaction to criticism about PETA’s extraordinarily high kill rate?  It looks like an attempt to distract their membership to me–something to point to and say “we do too adopt out animals” diverting attention from the infamous walk-in freezer.
  • Perhaps they are trying to prove to themselves that they are good people.  That is after all, a fundamental human need.  Allowing the occasional animal out alive may serve that purpose, even as they kill thousands of others.
  • Midnight’s owners are portrayed as the stereotypical uncaring owners that PETA would like its supporters to believe are so prevalent.  People like that are actually the exception, not the rule.  PETA’s take on humanity lacks nuance.

So, I have a few questions:

  •  How true is this story?  Is it partly or completely made up?
  • If there is any truth to it, is Midnight still alive?
  • What does a PETA adoption application look like?
  • If Midnight is real, then how did she get chosen for the rare privilege of surviving PETA?   What sealed the deal?  Was it her inability to climb down a tree?  Her camel-like ability to survive without water?
  • What is stopping PETA from advertising all the other animals they take in to their “facilities”–all those dogs and cats and bunnies and others they keep invisible to the animal-loving public, the ones that leave 501 Front Street via the freezer?

But, hey, you never know.  If you are a cat lover with a penchant for cryptozoology, you might want to adopt Nessie Midnight:

Now Midnight is settling in at PETA’s Norfolk, Virginia, headquarters and is waiting patiently for the right adoptive family. She will be microchipped and spayed before adoption. If you are ready to make a lifetime commitment and give Midnight the safe, loving home that every cat deserves, please e-mail Adopt@peta.org.

If you succeed, or if you know anything about this cat, I’d like to hear from you.

*Oddly, the 2009 stats don’t appear to be properly posted on the VDACS site (maintained by the state of Virginia where PETA is headquartered).  They are available in the article to which I linked, however.  A word about the numbers reported:

You’ll notice that there are a lot of animals listed in the categories “others” and “reclaimed by owner”. Those are animals that were brought in for spay-neuter surgery. They were never taken in “for purposes of adoption” and so should not be included in these statistics, but they are, because PETA wants to conceal the true gravity of its statistics. The pertinent numbers are in the columns “surrendered by owner” and “euthanized”. You’ll notice that these two numbers are very similar. That’s because PETA kills most of the animals it takes in “for purposes of adoption”.

You can compare PETA’s statistics to those of other agencies in Virginia by changing the agency identification number in the url (i.e. …fac_num=157… identifies PETA). In keeping with the ‘license to kill’ theme, let’s try ‘007’. That gives us the statistics for an organization called SOS-SAFE, or Saving Animals from Euthanasia. How about that? You’ll find that their numbers are quite a bit different from PETA’s.

11 Responses to “When is a black cat like a unicorn?”

  • YesBiscuit Says:

    Midnight looks pissed. Understandably.

  • Diana from CNY Says:

    PETA totally disgusts me, how they have managed to bullsnot the public for so long, I just don’t understand, thanks for trying to get the word out about their high (90%) kill rate.

    • Valerie Hayes Says:

      I think it is because there was no No Kill movement until relatively recently. For the first 20 years of PETA’s existence, there was not a single No Kill community in the entire country. With the rise of the No Kill movement, PETA’s killing stands out in sharp contrast to the lifesaving accomplishments of organizations with a tiny fraction of PETA’s budget and reach. I think the Piggly Wiggly Dumpster Incident of 2005 opened a lot of people’s eyes to what PETA really is. Nevertheless, it will take a lot more relentless publicity to make sure everyone knows this. I did an informal survey a couple of years ago, and at that time, almost half of my readers didn’t know that PETA seeks out and kills thousands of healthy and treatable pets every year.

  • Eucritta Says:

    I continued to look for another hour or so, and it’s the same – no other source for this story or the photographs than PETA.

    Here’s more reason to consider it suspicious: local papers – and the Web as a whole! – love rescue stories. So I can’t imagine a story like this not showing up somewhere else if it were true, along a lot more detail. What’s more, if it were true, I find it hard to believe PETA, always ready to toot its own horn, would have buried it in a blog and FB post.

    And? Possibly it’s just coincidence, but two years ago *almost to the day* there was, in fact, an outdoor cat stuck in a tree for – wait for it – at least ten days:


  • Amber Gardner Says:

    Curious, though, WHY Peta kills animals so quickly and so often? What’s the point? Why take animals from a shelter and immediately kill them? Do they make money somehow??

    • Valerie Hayes Says:

      Many have pondered that mystery. The best explanation as to why that I’ve seen has come from Nathan Winograd. Ingrid Newkirk, PETA’s founder and president, got her start as an animal control officer, and she killed many animals in that capacity. She has created a cult around herself and her desire to continue doing so: http://www.nathanwinograd.com/?p=10275

      While a handful of animal control directors who once followed the catch-and-kill method have renounced it and begun the hard work of taking their shelters to No Kill, she continues to kill thousands, even though, with her $35 million budget, she could easily run a No Kill open-admission shelter in Norfolk starting tonight. It is sick, twisted, and tragic that she does not and has duped so many others into surrendering their souls to her.

  • Lindsay Says:

    Do you think PETA actually has an adoption procedure on its web site? I think I know the answer to that!

    Back in the day when I was unaware of PETA’s true motives, I applied for a job there thinking I would be able to help animals. From the brief interviews and email exchanges I had, boy can I confirm that PETA is extremely unorganized to say the least!

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