Black cats are often feared by those that don’t know them. Those that do love them know that they have nothing to fear and love them incessantly.
- Cats with a dominant black gene are often (but not always) pure black in appearance. A cat with two parents, both possessed of a dominant black gene, will almost always be pure black. However, if either of these cats has a recessive red gene, the child may also carry it, a fact which accounts for the fact that sometimes black cats appear “rusty” in the sun.
- A popular belief in the western hemisphere holds that black cats are unlucky. This superstition is not universally held, however. In Asia and the U.K., a black cat is generally considered lucky.
- While many recognized breeds have been around for years, or are the result of naturally occurring genetic mutations, the Bombay is a result of years of selective breeding in an effort to develop a black “Parlour Panther.” It is the only recognized cat breed whose only acceptable color is black.
Although stunning as sleek, black show cats with mesmerizing copper eyes, the Bombay is easily adaptable as a pet who will play fetch, guard your house, or even venture out with you on a leash.
In addition to the Bombay, listed above, The Cat Fanciers’ Association allows solid black as a color option in 21 other breeds. The color description is fairly standard for all those breeds:
BLACK: dense coal black, sound from roots to tip of fur. Free from any tinge of rust on the tips. Nose leather: black. Paw pads: black or brown.
The exceptions are:
Oriental – EBONY: dense coal black. Free from any tinge of rust on tips or smoke undercoat. Nose leather: black. Paw pads: black or brown.
Sphynx – BLACK: black. One level tone from nose to tip of tail. Nose leather: black. Paw pads: black or brown.
Ragamuffin – Although black is not specifically mentioned, the standard allows for “any color, with or without white,” so technically speaking, an all-black Ragamuffin would be allowed under the breed standard.
Black Cats in the Middle Ages
As we know from Halloween folklore black cats are commonly associated with witches and in many parts of Europe were often portrayed as partners in black magic. In fact, this relationship was made official in the 13th century by the Roman Catholic Church and the devil became associated with all black cats. Many cats died untimely deaths thanks to that questionable status. During the Middle Ages, black cats were thrown on bonfires, hurled off castle walls or killed upon sight in order to ward off the evil spirits they supposedly embodied.
Pirates & Black Cats
Luckily not all cultures demonize black cats and instead think they bestow good luck and happiness to their owners. In England owning a black cat is said to ensure good luck and pirates of long ago hoped to have a black cat on board their ship to bring rich rewards. Petting a black cat three times is said to bring good luck as is plucking the white hair of an otherwise all black cat. Of course the ancient Egyptians were the supreme cat lovers and protected them in life and honored them in death by mummifying them. Sounds like good sense.
Luck Black Cats
While most know the bad luck black cats supposedly bring, there are also many cultures that view a black cat as bringing luck. For instance, in Great Britain and Ireland black cats are symbols of good luck and the Scottish believe a black cat in the household will bring prosperity. Additionally, it is also thought that a woman who owns a black cat will have many suitors.
A Sad Fact
Sadly there is one very true, very tragic fact which is no myth. Black cats are routinely overlooked in animal shelters in favor of their more colorful cousins. These are perfectly sweet, affectionate cats and embody everything anyone would want from a pet, but due to their color are all too often ignored. Pro-active shelters who know the value of these cats often hold special adoption days for the black ones, with low fees or two for one special. Seems like a bargain when you consider the fascinating and sometimes unsettling role the black cat has played throughout history.
Black cats are mystical and modern Pagans often use them as their familiars, such as this author. As an owner of several black cats – and many other colors – black cats are a joy and there is no reason to fear them.