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Black Cat Appreciation Day

What’s So Great About a Black Cat?

I’m sure we’ve all heard the myth surrounding black cats: they bring bad luck. These innocent felines have a strong historical association with death, witches, and the supernatural. Even now, Halloween culture supports the superstition surrounding black cats. This ridiculous notion dates back to 1232 AD, when Pope Gregory IX issued a papal bull (a public charter or letter released by the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church), illustrating black cats as reincarnations of Satan.[1] This fear of black cats continued for centuries following; on Christian holidays, one could often find large groups of people celebrating by burning the felines in bonfires. However, there was one historical exception to the notorious unluckiness surrounding black cats: King Charles I of England, who adored his black cat dearly. When the cat passed, he is reported to have said “And so my good luck leaves me,” which is true as he was arrested for treason and beheaded just one day following the death of his beloved cat.[2]

In honor of Black Cat Appreciation day on Friday, August 17th, let’s discuss some benefits that owning a black cat may bring.

Black Cats are Less Likely to Be Adopted

There is a significantly higher number of black felines in animal shelters than any other animal, yet their adoption rates are much lower.[3] As a result of their superstition, or perhaps a result of aesthetic preference, black cats are only 50% as likely to be adopted as tabby cats, and two-thirds less likely to be adopted than white cats. Some organizations, such as the Animal Welfare League located in Chicago, even refuse the adoption of black cats during the month of October, for fear of abuse to the animal.[4] Although this is important for the protection of these animals, this only pushes the adoption numbers lower and puts them at an even worse advantage for adoptions.

In Chinese and Japanese Culture, it is Believed that Black Cats Bring Good Luck

In contrast to American and European beliefs, “Maneki Neko,” translating to “the Beckoning Cat,” is considered consistent with good fortune. The Chinese and Japanese consider the cat’s raised paw as a welcoming gesture. This belief results from an ancient legend where a man was caught in a sudden thunderstorm and came across a black cat sitting underneath a tree. The cat beckoned him towards the tree, and he found refuge beneath the large tree. Soon after, the tree was struck by lightning, however, his shelter beneath the tree protected him from the strike. Essentially, it is believed that the beckoning of him by the cat is what saved his life. It is due to this that black cats are seen as a symbol of good fortune and thought to ward off evil spirits.[5]

Black Cats are Less Prone to Disease Compared to Other Felines