The Interesting Thing About Black Cats…

Black cat

Superstitions abound, both good and bad, about this nocturnal feline with glowing eyes!

1. Don’t let a black cat walk across your path – bad luck in America!
2. In Japan, this superstition is flipped on its head; they believe a black cat is good luck and if owned by a single woman, it is supposed to bring her many men!
3. Pirates believed that a black cat moving toward them meant bad luck, and if a black cat walked onto a pirate ship and then walked off again, the ship would sink on its next voyage.
4. Yet sailors wives believed if they kept a black cat at home it would bring their husband good luck.

A little history to see where some of these beliefs came from:

Around 3000 BC, Bast was the cat Goddess in Egypt representing protection, fertility, and motherhood. This meant killing a cat in Ancient Egypt was considered a crime punishable by death! In Egypt around 1888, a farmer unearthed a big tomb filled with 80,000 cat mummies from 2000-1000 BC! Why so many cats? The Egyptians believed that if you mummified your cat when it died it would bring good luck – more cats equals more luck!

Moving over to the United Kingdom, they believed witch’s could turn themselves into Black Cats. The overpopulation of cats in their cities, and the personality traits of independence and nocturnal roaming contributed to the people being suspicious of cats. In the 1700’s many Scottish people believed in the Cat Sith, who took on the appearance of a giant black cat that could steal a dead person’s soul before the gods could claim it.  Therefore Scottish families stayed all night and day with a dead body until it was buried to protect it from this Cat Sith. Amazingly, it is now considered good luck for a black cat to cross your path in Ireland, Scotland and England!

In the 1600’s, Europeans took these stories with them across the Atlantic Ocean and the first American settlers tied black cats to witches during the Salem witch hunts. Their fortune has changed and today it is common for black cats to be kept as pets with beloved names like Inky, Midnight, Abracadabra, Spooky, Black Beard and Phantom.

Appearances can be deceiving

Black cats usually have golden yellow eyes. This trait is because of the high melanin pigment content in their bodies. Cat Fanciers’ Association lists “solid black” as a color option for 22 different breeds! If you picture a classic black cat, it is probably the Bombay breed with standard ears, long whiskers, gold eyes and a sleek medium-length coat.

What’s in the name

T.S Eliot wrote a great poem called “The naming of cats” and it states:

“THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS (his name) and will never confess… The reason, I tell you, is always the same: His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name.”

So whether you call a black cat Lucky or Eight Ball, remember that his genetics are no fault of his own!