Why Black Cats Are Special (In Videos)
Black cats have played a weird role in human history since ancient times. We aren’t saying that black cats are more special than other cats! But their place in history and folklore has set them apart from other cats, mostly for the worst.
Let’s take a look at some of the history and the adorable black cats who prove the bad myths wrong!
We Have a Colorful History with Black Cats
Cats and humans have had a relationship since the beginning of recorded human history. Cats hold special religious and symbolic meaning in just about every human society.
Black cats in particular are deeply enmeshed in human folklore, so much so that it doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone, even the non-religious and the non-superstitious.
Black Cats Accused of Witchcraft
In Greek Mythology
In one myth, Hera, the wife of Zeus, turns her servant Galinthias into a black cat as punishment. She goes on to serve Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft and death. This is one of the earliest instances in human history that black cats are associated with witchcraft.
Speaking of black cats and punishment, here are 50 Shades of Owl Kitty:
In the Middle Ages
After the fall of the Roman Empire, monotheistic religions like Islam, Christianity, and Judaism became popular across Europe. The religious enthusiasm was accompanied by a deep fear of witchcraft and any of the images associated with it.
Black cats represented impending doom and bad luck in both Germanic and Norman societies. Soon, they became associated with the devil and witchcraft.
Monkey, below, beautifully demonstrates why even the scariest-looking black cats shouldn’t be judged on their appearance:
The Salem Witch Trials and Black Cats
It was said that witches could shapeshift into the form of a black cat up to nine times to hide their identities. This is the origin of the nine lives.
The superstition was so intense that it lead to the deliberate mass murder of black cats as well as others. It has been remarked that this cruel backlash against cats increased the city’s rat populations, leading to the spread of bubonic plague. This madness continued well into the Salem Witch Trials.
Henry The Black Cat (R.I.P.), below, comments on Halloween and the general mistreatment of black cats in general:
Black Cats Today are Badly Affected by this History
Black cats wait to be adopted 2-6 days longer in shelters than other cats. Also, a rise in violence against black cats in October is associated with sacrificial practices from various cults and practices at Halloween.
Other abuses include simply adopting black cats as a Halloween trinket without the intention of giving them a permanent home. Many are abandoned after the holiday. For this reason, many shelters will not allow black cats to be adopted during October.
Good News for Black Cats
OwlKitty’s humans have a charming story about her adoption and some useful information about adoption at the end:
So it’s not all doom and gloom for black cats. In fact, there are some human cultures where black cats have actually been good luck, too. This meant (some) good luck for black cats, too.
Cat-Sìth: The Luck of the Irish(ish)
Celtic cultures have tales about The Cat Sìth which translates into The Fairy Cat. The fairy took the shape of a black cat that was the size of a dog with a white spot on their chest.
If a black cat visited your home, it was appeased, since it was thought to be the Cat Sìth. If you put out a saucer of milk, you would be blessed with good luck. If not, the opposite.
This particular human displayed impeccable Cat Sìth etiquette when he found his black cat:
A Sailor’s Best Friend
There were also tales describing black cats as the ideal companion for a sailor at sea. Voyages were long and lonely and for some reason, black cats, in particular, were seen as good luck charms aboard.
Nathan, below, is a black cat who channels this affinity for the water:
Black Cats Make Great Pals
So despite the bad or weird reputation, they have acquired over time, black cats are actually as special and precious as any other cat.
As Owl Kitty's humans said, if you're interested in adopting, get in touch with your local shelter to see how you can help and rescue your black cat!
BuzzFeed Unsolved Network (2021) “The History Of Black Cats,” BuzzFeed Unsolved Network, [online] Available from: https://youtu.be/ntRSa1Mcn5U (Accessed 25 April 2021).
Moffet, R. (2018) “The Cat Sìth in Celtic Mythology: ScotClans: Scottish Clans,” ScotClans, [online] Available from: https://www.scotclans.com/cat-sith-celtic-mythology/ (Accessed 27 April 2021).