Every year since 2011, the 17th of August1 has been known as Black Cat Appreciation Day. It originally launched in honour of a woman who was devoted to her black cat “Sinbad”. This special day of the year is now used to remind us all of the value of black cats, to dispel prejudices and to encourage people to give a new home to black cats left behind at animal shelters.
Myth and folklore
The superstitions surrounding these dark, elegant, velvety felines go back centuries and continue right up to the present day. Sadly, they often have a rather negative spin. Records show that black cats were linked with the occult as early as the 13th century, when Pope Gregory IX issued an official church document entitled “Vox in Rama” on 13 June 1233. In it, black cats in particular were associated with Satan.2 This may help to explain why the superstition persists to this day that a black cat will bring you bad luck if it crosses your path.
Lower chances of adoption
Unfortunately, such quaint old superstitions have real-world consequences. In shelters, black cats have to wait much longer for adoption than felines of other colours – a fate they share with other shelter animals with black coats, such as dogs.3
- A question of pigmentation. Black cats owe their colour to melanism (black colouring). It’s as simple as that. It is nothing more than dark pigments in the skin and fur that give the cats their distinctive appearance.4
- Black cats are on the rise. The Cat Fanciers’ Association lists twenty-two recognised breeds of black cat.5
- They have their own café. Café Nekobiyaka in the Japanese city of Himeji is devoted exclusively to black cats.6
- Black cats attract potential suitors (some people say in Japan). It is apparently quite common for single Japanese women to own a black cat because they believe it may bring them a suitor.7
- They help sailors. Historically, British and Irish sailors believed that a black cat would bring good luck to a ship and its crew, ensuring they would return home safe and sound.8
- A black cat signals prosperity. There is a widespread superstition in Scotland that if a black cat appears at your front door, it will bring you wealth.9
Celebrate Black Cat Appreciation Day
Here at FOUR PAWS we invite everyone to celebrate the 17th of August this year and every year. You might even consider adopting a black cat from your local shelter!
2. Sheldon, N. “Thou Shalt not suffer a Cat to Live”: Why Pope Gregory IX’s Vox in Rama Implicated Cats in Devil Worship. History Collection. 2018 [accessed 2022 Aug 8]. https://historycollection.com/thou-shalt-not-suffer-a-cat-to-live-why-pope-gregory-ixs-vox-in-rama-implicated-cats-in-devil-worship/
3. Wayback Machine. 2010 Apr 1 [accessed 2022 Aug 9]. https://web.archive.org/web/20100401052756/http://www.animalsandsociety.org/assets/library/78_jaawsleeper.pdf
4. Feline Melanism: Adaptive and Evolutionary Significance. Basepaws. [accessed 2022 Aug 9]. https://basepaws.com/blogs/news/feline-melanism-adaptive-and-evolutionary-significance
5. Jun. 30 CNU, 2022. 22 Black Cat Breeds You’ll Want to Adopt. Reader’s Digest. [accessed 2022 Aug 9]. https://www.rd.com/list/black-cat-breeds/
6. Nekobiyaka: Himeji. Animal Cafes. [accessed 2022 Aug 9]. https://animalcafes.com/v/25546.html
7. Black Cat Stigma. Animal Welfare League NSW. 2018 [accessed 2022 Aug 9]. https://www.awlnsw.com.au/halloween-is-almost-here/
8. 5 Pawsitively Fascinating Facts About Black Cats. The Spruce Pets. [accessed 2022 Aug 9]. https://www.thesprucepets.com/facts-about-black-cats-554102
9. Celebrating National Black Cat Day – ManxSPCA. [accessed 2022 Aug 9]. https://www.manxspca.com/celebrating-national-black-cat-day/