Black Cats: the Good, the Bad, and the Misunderstood

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 that falls on August 17 every year, let’s try to dispel this myth!

Black-Cat-Myths.jpgTypes of Black Cats

According to the Cat Fanciers' Association, there are 22 feline breeds that feature solid black as a possible coat color characteristic. The most quintessential of black cats has to be the Bombay, a breed originally developed to resemble a miniature black panther. They are known for their black coat, black nose and yellow eyes, and are 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.

Are Black Cats Just That? 

Folklore varies from culture to culture and over time. In Medieval times in Europe, it was believed that black cats were the familiars (supernatural entities that assisted with the practice of magic) of witches or even shape-shifting witches themselves. 

Black Cat Superstitions

Most people have 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. 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’s 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.”

Black-Cat-Myths-2.jpgBlack Cats and Luck, Good or Bad?

A lot of people don’t realize that black cats have also considered good luck through the ages. Examples of vintage postcards from the early 1900’s make it readily apparent that black cats were well-loved and considered good luck in America. Going all the way back to 3000 BC, black cats were held in the highest esteem and to harm one was considered a capital crime. Sailors throughout history have believed having a black cat on board their ship would bring good luck, and some fisherman’s wives would keep black cats at home to influence the safe returns of their husbands. 

Myths About Black Cat Adoptions

So how does all this affect current adoption rates and animal shelter occupancies for black cats? There is a common myth that black cats are the least likely to get adopted in animal shelters across the U.S. The data, however, does not bear this out. Black cats come into animal shelters more than any other color and black cats are adopted more than any other color cat!

Myths aside, it is clear black cats are popular because they have the same needs for love, care, and a forever homes as other cats, along with charisma and charm. View The Animal Foundation’s black cats(and other animals) available for adoption online, or visit our one of our two adoption centers!

This post was originally written by guest blogger, Ashlee D’Andrea. It has since been updated, revised, and edited.

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