Black cats have long been associated with mystery, superstition, and folklore. Throughout history, these sleek and mysterious felines have been both revered and feared in different cultures around the world. From being considered symbols of luck and protection to being associated with witchcraft and bad omens, black cats have become the subject of numerous myths and legends.
In ancient Egypt, black cats were highly revered and it was believed that they possessed magical powers. In Norse mythology, the goddess Freyja was said to have had a chariot pulled by two large black cats. However, in mediaeval Europe, black cats became a symbol of evil and were often associated with witchcraft. This negative perception led to the persecution and even killing of black cats during the infamous witch trials.
In other countries such as Scotland and Japan, a black cat crossing your path or dreaming of a black cat is said to bring you good luck. In Scotland, finding black kittens sitting on your porch is a sign of wealth to come!
But what is the truth behind these superstitions and folklore? Despite the negative beliefs and misconceptions, black cats are no different from any other cat. They are loving, loyal companions just like their furrier counterparts. So, let's unravel the mystery and discover the truth behind the superstitions surrounding black cats.
Why are black cats associated with Halloween?
Halloween has its roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. It was believed that on this night, the boundary between the living and the dead was blurred, and spirits could roam freely. Witches and black cats were thought to be more active and powerful during this time, further linking them to Halloween.
More recently, black cats have also made their mark in popular culture as part of Halloween celebrations. They have been featured in movies, books, and art, often depicted as mysterious and magical creatures associated with Halloween. In the movie "Hocus Pocus" for example, a black cat named Thackery Binx plays a central role in the story.
In literature, black cats have been portrayed in various ways, from being the familiars of witches to being symbols of good luck and protection. Artists have also been inspired by the beauty of black cats, capturing their elegance and mystery in paintings and sculptures.
Why do people not want to adopt black cats?
It’s unlikely that this folklore still significantly influences adoption rates in black cats, however the fact still stands that black cats are adopted far less than other cats. So why is this? It could be that black cats blend into the background at a rescue centre, or they don’t photograph well in adoption advertisements. It’s also harder to read their facial expressions so some people could think they are being aloof or unfriendly as they appear far less expressive than other cats.
Despite this, many prominent figures in history have supported black cat adoption with none other than Fred Astaire and Winston Churchill both owning black cats.
Do black cats come in various shades?
The dominance of the eumelanin (a type of melanin) gene, responsible for black fur, prevails in black cats. Typically, a cat inherits two gene copies, one from its mother and one from its father. If even one of these genes encodes for black fur, the resulting kitten will exhibit a black coat. However, in reality the genetics aren’t as simple and as a result you get a number of colour variations in black cats.
Does a black cat’s diet affect the colour of their fur?
Yes, this can be due to deficiencies in amino acids such as tyrosine. Tyrosine is needed to make melanin, the pigment that causes your cat’s fur to be black, so if they are deficient it may cause their fur to become more reddish brown. Too much zinc in your cat’s diet or a deficiency in copper can also cause black fur to fade.
Temperaments and general health of black cat breeds
- Bombay - Bombay cats are known for their playful yet composed demeanour, making them easy to train. Their notable personality traits include being energetic and inquisitive, sociable and welcoming to strangers, gentle and tolerant towards smaller pets, affectionate lap cats, vocal communicators, and highly adaptable to various environments. They are also skilled at maintaining peace among different pets in a household.They are typically healthy, but their Burmese genes make them genetically predisposed to some disorders such as hypokalemia, obesity and diabetes.
- Japanese Bobtail - Japanese Bobtails are known for their playful and affectionate temperament, often forming strong bonds with their owners. They are intelligent and social cats, but also have a vocal side. These cats are generally healthy, though they can be predisposed to certain genetic conditions due to their unique tail structure. Regular grooming and mental stimulation are essential for their well-being, and they tend to enjoy interactive play and puzzle toys.
- Exotic Shorthair - Exotic Shorthair cats are known for their gentle and calm temperament, making them affectionate and ideal lap companions. They are generally healthy but can be prone to certain respiratory and dental issues due to their flat faces. These cats have a laid-back behaviour, enjoy lounging, and are not very active. They are well-suited for indoor living, and their plush, short coat requires regular grooming to prevent matting. Exotic Shorthairs are typically quiet and undemanding pets, making them a great choice for those seeking a relaxed and low-maintenance feline companion.
- Oriental Shorthair - Oriental Shorthair cats are known for their lively and affectionate temperament, often forming strong attachments to their owners. They are generally healthy, although they may be prone to dental issues and certain genetic conditions. These cats are highly active, curious, and playful, enjoying interactive toys and engaging in various activities. They have a sleek, short coat that requires minimal grooming, making them low-maintenance in terms of grooming. Oriental Shorthairs are highly vocal and expressive, with a wide range of vocalisations to communicate their needs and desires. They are intelligent and social cats that thrive on human interaction, making them devoted and entertaining companions.
- Siberian - Siberian cats are known for their friendly and sociable temperament, often forming strong bonds with their families. They are generally robust and healthy, with a sturdy build. These cats are active and playful, enjoying interactive toys and games. They have a thick, semi-long coat that requires regular grooming to prevent matting, especially during seasonal shedding. Siberians are known for their vocal and communicative nature, with a variety of chirps and meows to express themselves. They are adaptable and thrive both indoors and outdoors, making them versatile and affectionate companions for cat lovers.
A couple of fun facts about black cats
Many black cats have golden eyes! Melanin, which causes their fur to be black can also cause their eyes to be a piercing gold colour.
There are 22 breeds of black cats in the world!
Tippaws sponsors the “Black Cat Adoption” page on catchat.org to support the adoption of unwanted black cats. Please check out their website to learn more about black cats and find out how you can adopt one from a local cat rescue.
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