The Real Reasons Black Cats Don’t Get Adopted
The Animal Food Bank is recognizing the black cat and the historical superstitions associated with these mysterious but lovable creatures and the real reasons black cats don’t get adopted. If you walk into your local home store in search of Halloween decor, you’re sure to find numerous black cat decorations. Or if you throw on a Halloween classic like Hocus Pocus or Sabrina the Teenage Witch, you’ll notice one of the main characters is a black cat – Binx from Hocus Pocus and Salem Saberhagen from Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Oh and let’s not forget the hundreds of cat costumes that pop up each year. This is because the image of the black cat has become one of the most popular symbols of the spooky season. But why? In this article we will dive into the history of the black cat, the good and evil legends which helped shape their image, the impact they have on Halloween and the real reasons they are less likely to get adopted than other cats in today’s society. (This is your sign to adopt a black cat!)
Black cat breeds
There are 22 different black cat breeds according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association which was established in 1906 and is currently the largest registry for pedigree felines. The Bombay cat is one breed which is exclusively black and is known for its dense and shiny coat. Other breeds belonging to the black cat family include but aren’t limited to include the American Shorthair, Maine Coon, Persian, Ragamuffin, Scottish Fold, American Bobtail and Exotic. A black cat’s coat is considered a ‘solid’ just like any other cat with a single-coloured fur. Sometimes when a black cat lays in the sunlight, you’ll notice some light browns or reds appear in their fur. This is because they’ve likely spent lots of time enjoying the sun which has caused their black fur to ‘rust’. This is a very common occurrence and nothing to be worried about! Think of it like this: It’s similar to when a light-haired person gets ‘blonder’ in the summer from being outside in the sunlight. The eumelanin in a black cat’s coat is fragile which allows the sun to penetrate it and lighten it up. And while many cat owners and advocates appreciate their luscious coats, black cats are often picked last at adoption events where people tend to go for the more colourful felines first.
Black cat history and superstitions
“Never let a black cat cross your path” – is one of the many ideologies associated with black cat superstitions. And while black cats have gotten a relatively negative image over the years, they were once symbols of good luck for some. Black cat history dates back centuries to when the Ancient Egyptians valued all felines, no matter what their coats looked like. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most well-known historical tales surrounding black cats.
In Ancient Egypt, all cats were divine symbols of protection. Egyptian royals even dressed their cats in gold and allowed them to eat from the same plates as them. They believed that Egyptian gods would take the form of cats among other animals and overall cats played an important role in the Ancient Egyptians’ lives.
During the early Middle Ages, black cats would accompany sailors on their ships. They were viewed as good luck and also took care of the rats. Some sailors also believed that black cats could predict weather patterns through different behaviours. So having a black cat with you on your ship was a good thing.
Things started to shift for black cats during the 13th Century when an official church document written by Pope Gregory IX declared that black cats were an incarnation of Satan.
During the Middle Ages, black cats became linked to witches. The Christian church saw witches as powerful threats so they were hunted and killed all throughout medieval Europe. Witches were known to have good relationships with animals and this is when the human-cat bond became devilish in the eyes of many. As these ideologies spread throughout the world, people began to believe witches could even morph into black cats.
Black cats were killed by the masses as a result of people believing they were evil. They were blamed for the Bubonic plague when in reality they were only helping to eliminate rodents. Because so many cats were killed, it allowed the plague to spread faster!
The superstition about black cats crossing people’s paths was a result of their image becoming associated with satan and witches. If these evil spirits and creatures could morph into black cats, you wouldn’t want them crossing paths with you! This ideology continued on into the Renaissance.
During the 16th Century in Italy, people believed that you’d be destined for death if a black cat laid on your sickbed.
Samhain the Celtic festival helped shape modern Halloween. One of the creatures from this festival called Cat Sith is a fairy which resembled a large black cat. If you left a saucer of milk out at night for the Cat Sith to drink, it would bless your house. If you didn’t, it would curse your house.
Once the superstitions about black cats and witches made its way to America, it fueled the infamous Salem witch hunts.
In Asian cultures, all cats including black cats are seen as good omens.
Black cats and halloween
All of the legends, witch trials and evil misconceptions surrounding black cats have shaped them into a modern day symbol of Halloween. Because they were linked to witchcraft so long ago and they’ve been included in so many folktales, there is no question why they got their spooky reputation. Aside from this, their black coats and bright eyes in the night make them mysterious in nature. As a result, you can find numerous black cat decorations, costumes and movies associated with Halloween – the season of all things spooky.
Why don’t black cats get adopted?
Sadly, black cats don’t get adopted nearly as much as other cats with different coats and they are more likely to be euthanized. Even if most people no longer believe the historic superstitions related to black cats, it still impacts their adoption rates. So much so that they get adopted 50 per cent less than cats with other coats. We can’t pinpoint exactly why this happens but it could be because people who are looking for a cat are picky and they tend to want a pet with more colours on their coat.
This is a frustrating reality faced by black cats who are just as lovable and cute as other cats! Sadly, the negative superstitions and historic folklore have resulted in higher animal abuse rates towards black cats than others. But as animal advocates we must continue to spread positive information about black cats and why we should adopt them. Studies have even proved people wrong who believed black cats were more aggressive.
They are loving creatures who often struggle to find homes. If you’re thinking about adopting a cat, stop by your local animal shelter and you’re sure to find a black cat waiting for you.
Pet Lover, if you enjoyed this article, come back often for more and please tell your friends and business you love, with that kind of continued support we can continue to feed all the pets in need.
Updated: March 10, 2023
Originally Published Oct 31, 2022