Marlow was one of those cats that nobody thought would ever find a family.
The cat had spent five years at the Wood County Humane Society, becoming a fixture at the shelter's offices in Bowling Green. He was old, suffered from irritable bowel syndrome, and his fur was black, making him an unlikely candidate for adoption.
Until this month.
The Humane Society has designated December as Adopt-a-Black-Cat Month, offering half-price discounts on the adoption of black cats. Anyone
who adopts a cat of a different color for the regular $80 also can take home a black cat for free.
For Marlow, and five other black cats at the shelter, the special has worked like a charm.
Two weeks into December, a couple decided to adopt Marlow after hearing about the discount, assistant manager Jamie Fairbanks said.
"It was a little overwhelming. He'd been here in the office with the workers for so long, we were sad to see him go," Mr. Fairbanks said. "But it was great that he got a home. We were all extremely happy."
The society decided to focus on black cats this month because they are the most abundant animals at the shelter, and the least likely to be adopted, board public relations chairman Julie Broadwell said.
People are less likely to choose black cats because they don't stand out, Ms. Broadwell and Mr. Fairbanks said.
"When you have black cats, there's nothing that really sets them apart from any other black cats," Mr. Fairbanks said. "If you have orange cats, they're going to look different in some way."
Superstitious beliefs that black cats bring bad luck also could play a part, he added.
John Dinon, executive director of the Toledo Area Humane Society, said he's noticed that black dogs also lag in getting picked for adoption. But he said the hardest animals to find homes for are those that are old.
"Puppies fly out the door," Mr. Dinon said. "Older dogs are harder to adopt, but I tell people they're already trained, they don't chew up your slippers. They're pretrained, mellow dogs."
The society is offering an adoption fee of $50 and free food for a year on some of its senior dogs.
Both the Wood County and Toledo Area humane societies allow people age 60 and over to adopt older animals for free.
Mr. Dinon said the shelter usually sees more adoptions over the holiday season, but also an influx of animals from people who receive pets as unwanted gifts.
Other owners surrender their pets because of holiday stress, he said.
The situation is exacerbated by the current economic downturn and high foreclosure rates, Mr. Dinon continued.
"It's very busy now in general because the economy is bad, people are being foreclosed on and they're not in a financial situation where they can take care of pets any more. It's really putting a strain on animal shelters," Mr. Dinon said.
"Times are tough for everyone, even dogs and cats."