Imagine yourself walking down the street. You are already having a bad day when a black cat crosses your path. Your initial reaction of paranoia and superstition has you thinking: “now my day can only get worse.” You avoid any kind of contact with the feline and hurry along, keeping in mind the unlucky creature you’ve just encountered.
Black cats’ association with bad luck might not have a definitive origin; but it has been noticed throughout history that they do have an affiliation with the color black, witches and Halloween. It was not until the Middle Ages that black cats began to gain a reputation of bad luck, and many believe this association began simply because of the color of the cat’s fur. The color black has been typically associated with fear, death and the unknown. That said, it is easier to understand why the black cat has unfairly gained this “bad luck” stigma.
Now in October, and with Halloween around the corner, it becomes a dangerous time for stray and sheltered black cats. According to journalist Lee Litas in her article “Black Cats Don’t Have a Bad Image in all Cultures,” people have used black cats as live decorations and in satanic rituals in honor of Halloween and cult traditions throughout history. Black cats were once the victims of mass murders due to religious leaders thinking black cats had been the cause of the Black Death pandemic. Ironically, this action only brought upon more disease and death as it was later found out that the carriers of the plague were actually rats. Although no physical proof of current abusive actions and rituals of black cats are present, many states are still taking precaution with these furry creatures. For a few years, during October, the state of California had prevented the adoption of black cats in shelters to lessen the probability of them being adopted with intention of harm. Now, California requires those interested in adopting black cats during this month to take safety measures and go through a very detailed background check.
According to a 2013 ASPCA report, the adoption of black cats worldwide in recent years have increased as people lose their superstitious fears and even see them as signs of good luck. The release of the film “Black Panther” also increased these adoption rates as people were growing an internet obsession with black cats and their resemblance to black panthers.
Aug. 17 has been declared Black Cat Appreciation Day in the Western Hemisphere in hopes of saving the lives of these cats by raising awareness. On this day, people can also adopt black cats for a reduced fee through the ASPCA (American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) which not only helps black cats, but provide a “forever home” to a homeless animal.
The Kindness for Cats nonprofit organization released an article on why one should adopt a black cat and the reasons are that they are loving creatures and bring good luck. They also list other reasons including that black cats have stronger immune systems than other colored felines and have been recognized as animals of good luck in different parts of the world including the United Kingdom and Japan.Their philosophy is: “black cats need love and a safe home too.”
This Halloween season, keep an eye out for black cats and remember, if they cross your path, it is for a reason. Maybe you will end up taking the black and mysterious kitty home.