At Cats Protection we love all cats, and I personally have a soft spot for beautiful shiny black cats
National Black Cat Day was created by Cats Protection on 27 October 2011 to help celebrate the majesty of monochrome moggies and beautiful black cats. When the campaign was launched, statistics revealed that black and black-and-white cats took, on average, seven days longer to find a home compared to cats of other colours.
Thinking of owning a cat? Our adoption centres have many loving companions in varied colours looking for their forever home.
Well, National Black Cat Day got me thinking about the role black cats have in superstitions, mythology and folklore throughout the world.
How many of us have images of black cats around the house this Halloween? Black cats are commonly associated with witches, and used, in our modern halloween celebrations.
In fact, in a survey we conducted at Cats Protection, it was found that, some myths about black cats being unlucky have some currency with young people. Of those surveyed aged 18-24, 12% said that black cats were unlucky, while only 2% of over 55-year-olds did.
So why is there prejudice against black cats?
Some people are superstitious about black cats
A modern prejudice is people wrongly think black cats aren’t photogenic or ‘Instagrammable’
They consider black cats to be less friendly or playful due to not being able to read their facial expressions.
Lets debunk the prejudices in turn…
Black cat superstitions
Today some people think black cats are bad luck. In fact, black cats weren’t always the subject of superstitions or thought of as bad luck. As far back as 3000 BC, the Egyptians held all cats in high esteem, and to kill one was considered a capital crime.
Unfortunately for our loveable companions in Europe, during the Middle Ages, black cats’ glorified status started to crumble, as they became associated with witches. It was thought that black cats were the cause of bad luck, assisting witches in their dark arts, or that witches could turn into a feline form.
The hysteria of witches practicing black magic was widespread, including in the UK, during these times. The reality was feral and stray cats were often cared for and fed by poor and lonely ladies, who were later accused of witchery. This is probably where the idea began to develop that if a black cat crosses your path, something bad will happen.
Black cats don’t photograph well
Black cats have been shunned for not taking good selfies. Many people display their lives on social media and think that black cats don’t show up well in photos and therefore aren’t photogenic or ‘Instagrammable’. With the technological developments in device cameras, this is becoming less of a problem, as the pictures in this blog show. I’m setting you a challenge this Halloween to post awesome black cat pictures.
It’s hard to read their facial expressions
Black cats are considered to be less friendly or not playful due to people finding it difficult to read their facial expressions. The dark-furred felines are then classed as aggressive and less adoptable. In fact all cats have limited facial expressions and rely on subtle and complicated ways of communicating. Unlike dogs, cats haven’t evolved to have lots of facial muscles, which means their faces aren’t as expressive as dogs. This is why it’s important to recognise even the smallest signs and changes in their body language because although they seem small, they say an awful lot.
Taking time to learn their body language can help to strengthen the relationship with your cat. Learning the signs that they are happy, or when they just want to be left alone, can be a big help to you both. Cats Protection has an easy to use Cat body language guide to help. catbehaviour_body-large-min.jpg (335×1920) (cats.org.uk)
Black cats can be lucky
The flip side to these suspicions are that black cats are actually sometimes considered to be good luck. For example:
In parts of England, a black cat as a wedding gift is thought to bring good luck to the bride.
Owning a black cat in Asia is considered lucky.
In Scotland if a, black cat appears on your doorstep, it is seen as a sign of prosperity.
In the south of France, black cats are referred to as ‘matagots’ or ‘magician cats’ and, according to local superstition, feeding and treating them well will bring good luck to the owner.
In northern Europe, taking in and caring for a black cat can ensure fair weather and safe passage during voyages on the sea.
If you hear a black cat sneeze in Italy, you’re in for a streak of good luck.
Black cats are a symbol of good luck in Japan and if someone sees a black cat crossing their path, they say ‘konnichiwa’ and take control of their own luck.
Do you have a black cat?
Has your cat brought you good luck?
Post and share your black cat pictures with us