17 August, 2016 – Today is International Black Cat Appreciation Day – not to be confused with the UK’s National Black Cat Day which is 27 October. Both days aim to dispel the negative superstitions that still surround the enigmatic black cat.
While black cats have throughout the ages been attributed with many powers and gifts, and in some cultures are a symbol of good luck, in reality they are not as fortunate as as their feline friends of other coat colours.
In the UK, the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) has more than 1,000 cats in its centres looking for their fur-ever homes – more than any other animal. And RSPCA centres find they frequently have black, and black and white, cats waiting longer to be re-homed compared to other cats. In 2015 most cats waited an average of 26 days to be re-homed – black cats waited an average of 32 days, and black and white cats waited 28 days.
Figures also show there are far more black, and black and white, cats in RSPCA care than any other coat colour. In 2015 the RSPCA rehomed 1,746 black cats and 1,325 black and white cats – compared with the next highest of 653 tabby cats. This could be because they are more common but it does tend to be the ginger and tabbies that have the distinctive markings making them look more attractive to some.
RSPCA cat behaviour and welfare expert Alice Potter said: “We would urge people to look beyond an animal’s appearance. Their coat colour makes no difference to how much love they have to give.
“Black cats can make lovely family pets. There are many in our care ready for their new home and we would love to hear from anyone who is willing to give them a new life.”
The RSPCA has re-homed 2,488 cats so far this year a slight increase of 3% compared with the same time last year.
Black and black and white cats in the RSPCA’s care:
Pango (above) is at the RSPCA Wimbledon and District branch. He came in as a kitten with his siblings and mum after being born in someone’s back garden. He’s the most confident and outgoing of the three and is going to grow into a big, handsome panther of a cat. He’s full of fun We’d like him to be rehomed with his sister Kalo as they are close. He’s always purring, loves strokes and has a interesting curly tail, he’s a real character. He can’t wait to get out and explore and will need access to a secure garden once he’s a little bit older.
Four-year-old Sherlock (above) is available for rehoming at the RSPCA Middlesex North West branch.
He has a soft nature and would make a wonderful family cat, but not in a too busy household. Sherlock needs some good old fashioned TLC and to get back into a home as a single cat. His large white patch of fur under his chin looks like he is wearing a permanent bib!
Summer (above) is at the RSPCA Southall cattery. She is a lovely girl, who is shy at first, but after a sniff of your hand Summer is ready to be made a fuss of. Summer likes to do her own thing and have a bit of independance, but she loves to know that she can come to you for a stroke if she needs to. Summer would prefer to be the only cat in the household as other cats upset her. The RSPCA said Summer would really suit a family with older children.
All the animals available for rehoming are able to be viewed on the RSPCA website http://www.rspca.org.uk/findapet
Cats Protection is urging cat lovers to spare a thought for an unusually large litter of eight unwanted black kittens. Cute four-week-old kittens Schwarz, Noir, Crna, Preto, Ebony, Pango, Musta and Beltza are being looked after by the UK charity together with their mum Violet, who was found as a heavily pregnant stray.
Cats Protection has found that monochrome cats – black and black and white – cats take around a week longer to be adopted than cats of other colours.
“We got a call in early July from a lady who said a heavily pregnant black-and-white stray was living in her garden,” explained Diana Johnson of Cats Protection’s Northampton and District Branch in England where Violet and her kittens are being cared for. “Unfortunately Violet had no means of identification and appeared to have been abandoned.
“When we collected her we were amazed at how large she was – it looked she was about to give birth any minute! She eventually had her eight kittens at the end of July – six black and two black-and-white. We’re used to seeing litters of four or five cats, so eight is something of a local record!”
Since then the charity’s volunteers have been providing round-the-clock care to the feline family while Violet has been doing her bit – giving her kittens milk, licking them clean and using her body to keep them warm.
“The kittens themselves are very early developers,” said Diana. “They opened their eyes and started moving around much earlier than usual and are on a persistent mission to break out of their enclosure and explore their fosterer’s home!
“We hope to find them new homes next month when the kittens will be eight-weeks-old, have received their first vaccination and will be fine to be away from their mum.”
However, apathy on the part of potential owners could hold this cat family back from its happy ending. “Black and black-and-white cats take around a week longer to find homes, despite the fact they make up more than half of the 5,000 cats that are in Cats Protection’s care at any one time across the country” said Zahir White, spokesperson for Cats Protection.
“There is a lot of myth and superstition surrounding black cats but from our experience they lose out to the brighter-coloured tabbies, torties and gingers who are much more likely to catch the eye.”
“It’s a great shame because black cats have just as much love and affection to offer an owner. We’re hoping that people remember their plight during Black Cat Appreciation Day and get in touch to offer one a home.”
To adopt Violet or her kittens please contact Cats Protection’s Northampton Branch on 0344 700 3251 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To adopt other black and black-and white cats in Cats Protection’s care, then please log on to www.cats.org.uk, where inputting your postcode into the “Find us” box will bring up a list of cats in your local area. The charity also urges cat owners to neuter their pets to reduce the number of unwanted and abandoned kittens needing homes in the long-term.
In the USA, many animal shelters are offering to waive adoption fees of black and black and white cats for prospective owners if they adopt a monochrome puss today. Contact your local shelter for information.
Cat myth and legend (from Wikipedia)
The folklore surrounding black cats varies from culture to culture. The Scots believe that a strange black cat’s arrival to the home signifies prosperity. In Celtic mythology, a fairy known as the Cat Sìth takes the form of a black cat. Black cats are also considered good luck in the rest of Britain and Japan. Furthermore, it is believed that a lady who owns a black cat will have many suitors. However, in Western history, black cats have often been looked upon as a symbol of evil omens, specifically being suspected of being the familiars of witches, and so most of Europe considers the black cat a symbol of bad luck, especially if one crosses paths with a person, which is believed to be an omen of misfortune and death. In Germany, some believe that black cats crossing a person’s path from right to left, is a bad omen. But from left to right, the cat is granting favourable times. In the United Kingdom it is commonly considered that a black cat crossing a person’s path is a good omen.
The black cat in folklore has been able to change into human shape to act as a spy or courier for witches or demons. When the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock, they brought with them a devout faith in the Bible. They also brought a deepening suspicion of anything deemed of Satan and were a deeply suspicious group. They viewed the black cat as a companion, or a familiar to witches. Anyone caught with a black cat would be severely punished or even killed. They viewed the black cat as part demon and part sorcery. During the Middle Ages, these superstitions led people to kill black cats. There is no evidence from England of regular large-scale massacres of “satanic” cats, or of burning them in midsummer bonfires, as sometimes occurred elsewhere in Europe.
However, the supernatural powers ascribed to black cats were sometimes viewed positively, for example sailors considering a “ship’s cat” would want a black one because it would bring good luck. Sometimes, fishermen’s wives would keep black cats at home too, in the hope that they would be able to use their influence to protect their husbands at sea (see Ship’s cat). The view of black cats being favorable creatures is attributed specifically to the Egyptian goddess Bast (or Bastet), the cat goddess. Egyptian households believed they could gain favor from Bastet by hosting black cats in their household. This view was held in the early 17th century by the English monarch Charles I. Upon the death of his treasured pet black cat, he is said to have lamented that his luck was gone. True to his claim, he was arrested the very next day and charged with high treason.
Pirates of the 18th century believed that a black cat would bring different kinds of luck. If a black cat walks towards someone, that person will have bad luck. If a black cat walks away from someone then that person will have good luck.
Conversely in the United Kingdom if a black cat walks towards someone, it brings good fortune, but if it walks away, it takes the good luck with it.
If a black cat walks onto a ship and then walks off it, the ship is doomed to sink on its next trip. Black cats have been found to have lower odds of adoption in American shelters compared to other colors except brown, although black animals in general take more time to find homes.[12