When Halloween approaches, images of black cats are everywhere. We all seem to just love the little domesticated panthers that time of year!
And yet, as many rescue organisations will tell you, black cats are the hardest to rehome, all year round. Go figure. Of course, there’s a reason behind that, and it’s not one that casts us humans in a good light. Because it has to do with our completely irrational superstitions regarding black cats. Yes, to this day there are people who believe that a cat with a certain coat colour can bring good luck or bad, depending on your geographical or cultural background.
Superstitions are very hard to shake off – even otherwise rational people sometimes knock on wood, never walk under a ladder, fear a broken mirror, etc. But that’s nothing compared to our hotels not having a 13th floor, or our airplanes having no row 13. Guess we could call that institutionalised superstition.
So we might ask – if we accept the miscounts in hotels and airplanes as normal, can we really blame some people for being suspicious of certain animals for no rational reason whatsoever? Well, actually we can. It’s one thing to have strong negative feelings towards a thing or a number, and completely another to harbour adverse thoughts toward a living being. If our superstitions lead to the reluctance to adopt certain animals (which basically would amount to saving their lives), then yes, we shouldn’t be okay with it and shrug it off as simple quirks or peculiarities.
In medieval Europe, black cats were associated with the occult, they were thought to be witches in disguise, harbingers of evil, etc. All of which led to their being killed in huge numbers, which in turn, many believe, helped to spread of the bubonic plague, which was carried by mice and rats and wiped out almost half of Europe’s population. We live in the 21st century and we know that an animal’s coat colour has no actual bearing on anyone’s personal fortune, good or bad.
The truth is that black cats are just like all other cats. This sounds boring, perhaps, but then the truth often is. Of course, they have their own personalities: some are fun-loving, others all about the cuddles, some like to chase after balls, others prefer chilling in front of a fire, and so on and so on. All these things could be said about cats of any coat colour.
Oh, there is one difference between black cats and felines of other shades – scientists have discovered that black cats tend to live longer and be healthier than most other cats! So, if you’re looking for a long-term commitment and companionship, it seems that a black cat might be just what you’re searching for.
And one final factoid: genetically speaking, all cats are basically either black or red; and many “black” cats are really not black at all, or not completely black. Their coat colour could be referred to as 50 shades of rust! Especially if they like to bask in the sun. “Black” in their case is actually a lazy shorthand for many different colour variations.
So, we could say that people’s aversion to black cats is largely misguided, and on many levels, including the actual colour of the feared feline!
Let’s hope that in the very near future we won’t have to hold “black cat days” or “black cat months” or even “black cat appreciation months” in order to try to convince people to accept the beauty and normalcy of the black cat. Let’s hope that very soon the black cat will be appreciated all year round for what it is: just another beautiful being!
Author - Krist Lahne
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