Are you a cat person or a dog person? Most people would consider that to be the all-time most important pet question out there. But with the celebration of our feline friends in two separate cat holidays in October, a new question springs to mind. Don’t black cats deserve a little love?
National Cat Day was observed in the United States on October 29. In our high-tech world, it’s no surprise that social media was flooded with Instagrams and YouTube videos of cats. Smart cats, stupid cats, silly cats and naughty cats. But not many were black.
That’s why another cat day was originated in the UK by an animal charity group called Cats Protection. Just in time for Halloween, black cats were honored on October 27 with their own celebration — National Black Cat Day. The American Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has set up a similar holiday here — Black Cat Appreciation Day, on August 17.
Unlike the generic National Cat Day, which is all in fun, these two black cat holidays were created with the goal of increasing awareness and educating the public about black cats. Specifically, how they don’t get the love that their colorful counterparts receive. Bewilderingly, even cat-lovers are reluctant to adopt them.
According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), a third of U.S. households own a cat, accounting for just under 86 million felines sharing our homes. But black cats are still only a third as likely to be adopted as white cats, and half as likely as tabbies.
The big question is why? Is it that cat owners prefer flashy markings on their furry friends? Are they too plain? Or is it the superstition factor? Or that they’re a bit hard to photograph well, for those wanting to Instagram their pet’s every move? Well, when it comes to pets, everyone has their own preferences of course. Probably each of those things has some bearing on the problem. But regardless of the reason, their low adoption rates result in black cats having the highest euthanasia rates.
The black cat distinction dates way back to Egyptian times (3000 BC). Believe it or not, black cats were held in high regard in those days, and sailors even sought them out as shipboard companions for good luck! But fast-forward a couple of thousand years and you’ll see how far black cats fell out of favor. In the Middle Ages, when terror of black magic and witches began to emerge in Europe, stray black cats, often owned by these alleged witches, were condemned by association.
Those medieval beliefs made their way to America along with the Puritans and Pilgrims that came here in the early 17th century. Of course, the fact that neither the females nor the felines were actually guilty made no difference by then. The damage had been done.
So even if you missed National Black Cat Day, why not consider adopting one of these oft-maligned kitties? Their reputation may precede them, but the truth is, according to the ASPCA, black cats are as just sweet and loving as cats of other colors.
Consider these fun facts about black cats:
- There are 22 cat breeds that may have black fur, but only the Bombay cat is exclusively black.
- More black cats are male than female.
- If you’ve seen a mouse around your house, a black cat would be a great addition! Black cats are thought to be better hunters because of their ability to go unnoticed while on nocturnal explorations.
- Many black cats have coats of many colors. But the black color is more dominant, making the other shades visible only in certain lighting.
- Black cats tend to have a stronger immune system — and that could lower your vet bill.
- Similar to our affinity for ugly dogs in America, the Chinese believe the blacker and uglier the cat, the luckier its owner.
- In Scotland, a stray black cat on your porch is thought to bring good luck and prosperity.
- Sadly, black cats often don’t get the opportunity to win over prospective pet parents at a shelter by purring or snuggling or bonding like other kittens, because many people will reject or overlook them right from the start.
If you’re worried about the old adage that you’ll have bad luck if a black cat crosses your path, consider the wise words of Groucho Marx. “A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.”
Why not to a loving home?