The Black Cat Myth
When I was a young girl, we had a black cat named Cinder who was very sweet. I can't recall a single instance where she brought any fabled black cat misfortune into our lives. She was funny, smart, beautiful with her onyx fur, and always ready for a cuddle. In fact, just having her in our home was a true blessing.
So where DID the whole idea of a black cat as a bad omen come from??
Superstition Takes a Turn for the Worse
The Pilgrims had immense Christian faith and were suspicious of anything that had a relation to the devil. They believed that spirits returned to the world in the body of a black cat so they could move freely and be unseen in the night. Black cats were thought to be part demon and could be a spy or courier for witches and demons. Therefore, if someone owned or was in company of a black cat, they would be punished severely or killed.
Black cats also suffered harshly during the Middle Ages and were killed due to several variations of the superstitions listed above. Unfortunately, people back then were severely lacking foresight. It's believed that their feline genocide contributed to the increased rat population that led to the "Black Death."
The "Good Luck" Cat
Personally, I am not superstitious, but in this blog I'd like to point out that not everyone who is superstitious considers black cats bad luck! In other cultures, not only are black cats aren't just neutral ground. they're considered GOOD luck and their humans are lucky just to own them!
With a disproportionate amount of our shelter cats donning a dark fur coat, I'd say it's time we change the American black cat narrative. Let's explore some of the positive traditional belief of these lovely obsidian felines!
The French are convinced that "Lady Luck" will smile upon the owner of a black cat with even one white hair. It's also believed that, if you can remove a white hair from a cat without being scratched, you will have a long and prosperous marriage.
The Egyptians treated the black cat as royalty. They believed that the goddess "Bast" (a cat goddess) would favor any Egyptian's that owned a black cat and would bring great prosperity to them. It was also believed that she could take form as a black cat.
Traditionally, Sailors wanted a black cat on board as the "Ship's Cat" because of their good luck, and their wives would keep black cats with the belief that they would grant their husbands a safe return.
Pirates believed that if a black cat walked away from someone then that person would have good luck.
In Great Britain, Japan, and Ireland, people believe that black cats are symbols of good luck. For instance, the Scottish believe that if a stray black cat comes to your home, it signifies prosperity.
In Britain, it's believed that a woman that owns a black cat will have many suitors. (My personal favorite! ;) )
Consider Adopting a Black Cat
Unfortunately, black cats are very difficult to adopt, and due to the stigma of the superstitious beliefs associated with them, many people walk right pass them at the shelter.
For this reason, August 17th was named "National Black Cat Awareness Day," but you don't have to wait until then to adopt a lucky black cat! If you're interested in a new kitty, please consider adopting a black one. They are just as loving and playful as any other cat. And better yet, they come with a great history of myths that you can share with family and friends. I don't know of any other colored animal that has anywhere near as many fun superstitious tales to share!
Here are just a few of the black beauties in shelters near my neck of the woods. To help out a black cat or kitten near YOU, please head to PetFinder, enter your home town, and search for "Domestic Long-Haired - Black," "Domestic Medium-Hair - Black," or "Domestic Short Hair - Black" under the cat breeds listed.
"Cadabra" Domestic Long-Haired Baby Girl
"Cookie" Domestic Short-Haired Adult Male
"Dave" Domestic Long-Haired Baby Boy
"Victoria" Domestic Long-Haired Adult Female
"Loverboy" Domestic Short-Haired Adult Male
"Sable" Large Domestic Long-Haired Adult Female
"Finn" Domestic Medium-Haired Baby Boy