Black Cats — The Good, The Bad, and The Misunderstood

Click here to view all of The Animal Foundation’s black cats available for adoption online!

What is this mysterious stigma surrounding black cats? Even in modern times, as silly as it sounds, you still hear of black cats being associated with superstitions, black magic, and Pagan holidays such as Halloween. In honor of national Black Cat Appreciation Day on Sunday, August 17, let’s try to dispel this myth!

When you picture a black cat, you probably think of the Bombay, the most common breed amongst the 21 breeds of black cats (and the breed most famous, too). They are known for their black coat, black toes, black nose and yellow eyes, and are also characterized as intelligent, playful, and attention-seeking. You might recognize a Bombay black cat (real or animated) from popular shows and movies including “The Simpsons,” “Star Trek,” “Hocus Pocus,” “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” and “Coraline.” Let us also remember one of the world’s most notable black cats — Homer the Blind Wonder Cat of the book “Homer’s Odyssey.”

Folklore varies from culture to culture, century to century. Interestingly enough, it was once believed that witches (or fairies) could change into cats. In fact, it is believed they could make that change nine times. Some believe this to be the origin of the belief that cats have nine lives.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the superstition regarding a black cat crossing your path? That is derived from European folklore claiming that a black cat crossing one’s path, by moonlight, often signified death by epidemic. Silly? I think so! More than likely, a black cat crossing your path simply means the cat is going somewhere! Another superstition, quoted in various excerpts and one that I find particularly interesting here in Las Vegas, is that “the gambling world believes that if, while traveling to a casino, a black cat crosses your road or path, that person should not go to the casino; most players believe that black cats bring bad luck.”

So how does all this affect current adoption rates and shelter occupancies for black cats? According to the ASPCA, “year-round, black cats are the least likely to get adopted in shelters across the U.S.” There’s no concrete answer as to why  — while some may believe black cats are bad luck, it’s equally as likely that black cats stand out less compared to their brightly-colored kitten counterparts, or that they are harder to see inside their kennels. Black cats are just as pawsome as every other cat, though!

AndrewLet’s go back a few centuries, to the Egyptian times of 3000 BC, when black cats were actually held in the highest esteem and to harm one was considered a capital crime. Sailors also believed in having a black cat onboard their ships to bring good luck, and some fisherman wives would keep black cats at home to influence the safe returns of their husbands. Many believe that black cats often seem more ‘empathic and intuitive’ than other cats. In my experience — since I have two black cats of my own — this couldn’t be more true! My boys (like Andrew, pictured here) are incredibly loving, extremely talkative, and often too smart for their own good!

There are countless reasons (both fun and factual) to bring home a black cat, but what’s the most important one? Black cats are still least likely to be adopted, and they need people like you to give them a chance! Hopefully, with an increase of awareness and creative black-cat-specific adoption events, this trend will soon be a thing of the past. In honor of Black Cat Appreciation Day on August 17, visit your local animal shelter and add an ebony furry friend to your family today!

Click here to view all of The Animal Foundation’s black cats (and other animals) available for adoption online, or visit our two adoption centers!

Ashlee was born and raised in Las Vegas, has a full-time hospitality career, and has always been a cat (and dog) lover. She never really found her “passion” until tragically losing her cat, Frankie, a year and a half ago. Ashlee started volunteering to do some good in the community, and it’s since become something she’s so involved in, she’s reconsidering schooling and a different career path. To follow more of her volunteer journey and meet some adoptable shelter cats, check out her Furever Feline Friends Instagram account!

  • emjaysun

    Several of my best friends were black cats.

  • Joshua

    I’ve had a black cat for many years and he’s the best, Carl has such a fun personality he even wrestles with the dog after cleaning her face. Luck is what you make it, black cats are awesome.

  • C. D. Carney

    While it might be unlucky to have a black cat cross your path you can correct that misfortune by feeding it. One good myth deserves another and that’s how it works! I got 2 little baby black kittens and I wound up with the hottest girls I ever had fawning over them! They kept talking about their fangs and their eyes and their soft fur… The morning after they had the honor of being official cat warmers as the cats blessed them with cuddles. Who said black cats are unlucky 😛

  • Marcia Lozon

    Some Asian cultures believe black cats to be lucky and a sign of prosperity.

  • Christa

    I adopted a solid black 11 week old male and he’s coming home today. He is the sweetest most playful thing. As soon as you pick him up he starts purring so loud. He didn’t have a name so I named him Jack as in “Jack the Ripper” which is cute and bad ass at the same time. We are his furever home. We also adopted a 2 year old orange tabby male. He’s been here since yesterday and he absolutely loves it. His name is Tangerine. We already have a female cat that looks full blooded Maine coon and we took her in she was a stray. She had kittens and we took one from the first litter and the third litter and found good homes for the rest of them. The one from the first litter recently passed away his name was Chunky he was grey. And we still have Tuxie our 17 lbs tuxedo male and he is awesome. Anyways Happy National Adopt A Cat Month.