As we near Halloween, black cats become a prominent feature in popular culture, but did you know that 27th October is National Black Cat Day?
There is something about black cats that make people either love them or be suspicious of them. So, what is it?
Black cats have had some bad press over the years. From the middle-ages they have been associated with the sinister and labelled as shape-shifting witches, witches familiars, or demons. When the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock (in the USA) with their devout religious beliefs, they punished and even killed people who owned a black cat, believing the cat was a reincarnation of Satan. And even today, many people still think that if a black cat crosses their path, this will bring doom and gloom.
Superstitions in different cultures and countries vary and there are contradictions. But from a global perspective, they do OK:
- In Germany, some believe that black cats crossing a person’s path from right to left, is a bad omen. But from left to right, the cat is granting favourable times.
- The Scots believe that the arrival of a strange black cat a to the home signifies prosperity.
- In Celtic mythology, a fairy known as the Cat Sith takes the form of a black cat.
- The Japanese believe that a woman who owns a black cat will have many suitors.
- Historically, sailors would always choose a black ships cat to bring good luck. And their wives often had a black moggie at home in the hope that it would be able to protect their husbands at sea.
Today, we like to think that genuine cat lovers will love black cats in the same way as any other. But through no fault of their own, they are often overlooked, and many people are drawn towards cats with multi coloured fur. Even black kittens are often left until last for adoption. Some black cats spend many months, or even years in rescue, waiting for someone to recognise their personality.
Theories abound as to why this happens. Some people believe that it’s difficult to connect with a black cat in a rescue centre, because they blend into the shadows. (By the way, we have white walls at the Shelter) And unbelievably, some complain that their features don’t show up very well when they take selfies with their cats!
But did you know that:
- The coat of a black cat can take on a brown tinge as it gets older? This is because the sun’s rays break down pigment in the fur, revealing subtle tabby stripes.
- Most black cats have big golden coloured eyes because of a high melatonin pigment content.
As Snowy, who came to the Shelter with his sister Kizzy when their owner died, explains “My fur may be black, but my heart is pure gold. Just like my eyes!”
And remember that:
- Black is always in fashion.
- And it’s only unlucky to see a black cat, if you’re a mouse!
Look beyond the coat, and you will find that black cats have all the charm, and charisma of their more colourful cousins. Their sleek glossy dark coats compliment their bright shining eyes, and they are stunning, regal looking animals. And their need for love and care, in a home of their own, is the same as any other cat.
If your home needs a cat, we have a few in residence that are waiting to meet you. If you are interested in the history of cats in the UK, why not buy a copy of our book? It celebrates our 120th anniversary and tells the story of our charity, and how attitudes have changed towards animals since the Victorian era. It would make a great Christmas present for a cat lover.
Happy Black Cat Day!