Black cats get a bad rap. But two women in NC are combining their love of black cats with all things witchy in Asheville.
I’m on a video call with Hannah Soboleski and Star Bustamonte, the founders of House of Black Cat Magic in Asheville. Earlier this year, they opened a store that is the first of its kind: A black cat cafe and a shop for magic practitioners.
They’re sitting side-by-side in a sunlit room, Soboleski with dark hair, tattoos, and a sharp set of acrylics. Bustamonte has her light hair in a long braid resting on her shoulder.
They introduce me to Magic Binx, the tiny sister of Binx Pyewacket, the black cat that started it all.
Soboleski founded her foster network, Binx’s Home for Black Cats, three years ago after adopting Binx. She discovered that, because black is the most common coat color among cats, black cats have the highest number of adoptions…but also have the highest rate of euthanasia.
Since she started Binx’s Home for Black Cats, she’s helped more than 300 black cats find their forever homes.
Find Your Familiar
The founders met while Soboleski was holding adoption events at the magic practitioner shop Bustamonte used to work at. Now, Soboleski runs the cat lounge at House of Black Cat Magic, and Bustamonte runs the magic supplies shop.
“I’ve been a magical practitioner for over 30 years, “ Bustamonte says, “and I only recently figured out I’ve been working for the Goddess Bastet (the Egyptian goddess of cats) for most of my life.”
Bustamonte has always loved cats. She’s always gone out of her way to help them. “Look Mom! I found this cat on my way home,” was a common phrase in her childhood.
Her first move in the shop was to create an altar dedicated to Bastet. Some people think the connection between black cats and witches has something to do with black cats being shunned, but at House of Black Cat Magic they embrace the connection.
Bustamonte says at previous adoption events, they found that “the people who frequent [magic supplies shops] are more likely to adopt a black cat.”
Soboleski adds: “Even our adoption events are called ‘Find Your Familiar,” an homage to the history of black cats and witches.
The Black Cat Community
“It has just been an outpouring of support,” says Soboleski of their first few months being open. “Local artists want to put their stuff in the shop and other organizations are asking how to open their own cat cafe.”
Around 300 people came for the grand opening in June, and the day before our interview on Oct. 5, they had their 64th adoption.
Fittingly, October may be Black Cat Awareness Month, but for Soboleski and Bustamonte, finding homes for black cats (and the occasional non-black cat) is a year-round mission.
As a rescuer, Soboleski wants to find loving homes for all the animals in her care and encourages potential adopters to “gravitate to whichever cat [feels natural]…without too many expectations.”
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