All cat lovers know that their pets are special, but people lucky enough to share their home with black cats have special reason to rejoice this week. Friday, Aug. 17, is Black Cat Appreciation Day, according to the ASPCA. (My own midnight-black kitty would argue that she should be appreciated every day.) And really, it's about time black cats got their due after having gotten such a bad rap over the years.
Black cats have been associated with devil-worship and witchcraft since the Middle Ages, according to Meowington, perhaps because of their dark color and mysterious appearance. Even today, black felines still figure prominently in Halloween decorations, usually in an angry arched-back position to heighten their evil rep. Owners of black cats are cautioned to keep their pets indoors on and just before Halloween, because of the risk they might be teased or abused by bullies.
Perhaps (purr-haps?) designating a special day just for black cats will help the superstitious folks realize what we cat owners already know: Black cats can be just as sweet and lovable as any white Persian or ginger tabby. My girl escorts me to the bathroom when I come home, rubs her head against my cheek in a gesture of kitty affection, and likes to sleep against the back of my legs. She also seems to know instinctively when someone in the family is sad or sick — she'll climb into that person's lap and purr loudly.
Whether you already adore black cats or need some more convincing, these are some of the best reasons to celebrate them.
They Actually Bring *Good* Luck
The Puritans may have thought black cats were witches incarnate, but other cultures know better. Catster reported that in England, brides believe that receiving a black cat will ensure a happy marriage. British sailors back in the day preferred black cats as mousers on their ships, believing that they would ensure a safe trip home. And in Scotland, seeing a black cat at your door is a sign that prosperity is on its way.
They Go With Everything
Just as a little black dress (LBD) goes with any occasion and accessory, an LBC (lovable black cat) fits in with any decor. They look as good in a calm white room as on a cheery floral bedspread. And cats with white tuxedo markings add a touch of class wherever they go.
They're An Actor's Best Friend
A black cat is considered an extremely lucky omen in a theater, and if one happens to take up residence, it's a sign that the play will go well. According to TheatreHistory, the famous Theatre Francais in Paris had a black cat at the turn of the last century. It was considered lucky to be greeted by the cat at the stage door "and doubly fortunate the lucky one the cat might brush against while in the theatre."
The "Less Adopted" Stat Is A Myth
Conventional wisdom has it that black cats have a hard time getting adopted from shelters because of their "aloof and evil" looks, but data from the ASPCA shows that black cats are actually adopted more often than cats of other colors. However, it seems to be a question of population rather than preference; more black cats are left at shelters than gray and orange cats, and more of them are euthanized. In other words, there are a lot of black kitties out there.
A Superhero Is Helping Their Popularity
Maybe this explains the stat: According to People, an animal shelter reported that the success of the movie Black Panther may have increased the adoption rate of black cats. The proud new owners are naming their pets after characters in the movie, such as T'challa and O'koye.
The Color May Help Ward Off Disease
Feline genetic scientists at the National Institutes of Health think that the genes that make a cat's fur black may be related to genes that cause a resistance to HIV in humans, as reported by Wired. Studying the gene structure of cats, who suffer from many of the same diseases as people, may help lead to advances in treatment.
A Black Cat Helped A Baseball Team
Any New York Mets fan will gladly tell you the story of their "miracle" 1969 season and the feline who had a hand (paw) in it. As retold by MLB's website, the Amazin' Mets were in the middle of a September game against the Chicago Cubs, who were just ahead of them in the NL East standings. A black cat ran onto the field, dashed toward the Cubs' dugout, and stared at them for several long seconds before leaving the stadium. After that game, Chicago had a losing streak that lasted all fall, while the Mets emerged as the unlikely World Series champions.
Bottom line: If you have a black cat, lavish it with plenty of love on Aug. 17 and every day. If you don't, then consider bringing one into your home, because they are beautiful, loving, and deserve to shed their so-called "evil" stereotype. (And no, my cat did not make me write this.)