This time of year, Halloween decorations depict black cats, hissing with arched backs and bushy tails. Superstitious people regard black cats as bad luck. Others say they’re simply scary. The image isn’t a good one for injured or abandoned dark-furred kitties. Fortunately, black-cat rescue organizations across the United States work to change these misconceptions and find them forever homes.

Tracey Lenac runs Black Cat Holistic Rescue in Los Angeles, California. She rescued her first black kitten 23 years ago.

“I thought she got out of my house, and I asked my neighbors if they’d seen a black cat,” she recalls.

So many of her neighbors made negative comments that she began to research people’s attitudes about black cats. “I found that almost everyone had a bad opinion of them,” she says. “I started educating people, introducing them to my kitten so they could see how sweet she was.”

Lenac started her rescue organization in 2015.

“I get messages daily from people who’ve found black cats fending for themselves,” she says. “In September, someone called because they found a laundry basket full of kittens in a park.”

Lenac provides each feline with vet care and a foster home, and then a permanent family.

One success story is Buffy, an affectionate and outgoing black cat who came to her with four severely injured paws. “His new mom is a fan of the TV show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” She fell in love with him,” Lenac says. “Now they cuddle together all day.”

Across the country, Susanna Finn is assistant director of Black Cat Rescue in Boston, Massachusetts. Her organization finds homes for black cats, including a pudgy three-legged cat named Shelly and a skinny, mostly-bald cat named Snoopy. Finn and her co-workers promote black cats as funny, friendly and loving.

She adopted her own cat, Olivia, from the rescue. She has also fostered 37 cats.

“I love black cats,” Finn says. “I think they’re beautiful.”

But it can be challenging to show their beauty in a photo. “A big part of getting cats adopted is getting their cute faces out there. Black cats blend into the background, so photography takes more work than if a cat has a white or orange face,” she explains. “You should take pictures of black cats in natural light or on a brightly colored cat bed.”

In Oregon, black cats find good homes thanks to Leah Lyman, who runs Jagger’s Journey. Lyman rescued her first black cat, Jagger, 16 years ago. As part of her work, she bottle-feeds kittens found soaking wet and filthy, and takes cats that are flea-infested off the streets. “Black cats have amazing personalities,” she says. “People need to open their hearts to them.”

Lenac from Black Cat Holistic Rescue agrees. “When you adopt a black cat, you’re creating a change in the world,” she says. “You’re changing people’s attitudes by showing how lovable and beautiful black cats are.”

Fun facts

• The Egyptian goddess of protection, Bastet, is often depicted as a black cat.

• Sailors used to believe black cats on a ship brought good luck. Fishermen’s wives kept black cats, hoping to ensure a husband’s safe return from sea.

• Some theaters have historically kept black cats to bring luck to a performance.

Learn more

For more information, visit these websites:

Black Cat Holistic Rescue in Los Angeles, California:

Black Cat Rescue in Boston, Massachusetts:

Jagger’s Journey in Eugene, Oregon: