There are few cats that are as iconic as the black cat. Especially when Halloween rolls around. What would our Halloween decorations be without a yowling black cat with its back arched and fur standing on end? And what would our Halloween costumes be like without at least one girl gettin' spooky with it as an iconic Black Cat?
While there are tons of superstitions swirling around the much maligned - and also much beloved - black cat, there are just as many interesting facts that make them unique.
1. Black cats’ bad rep stems from the Middle Ages.
Pope Gregory IX decided that black cats were used to worship the devil and saw them as evil creatures. The belief only continued to spread across the world - and the ages. Thanks, Greg.
2. Black cats were often thought to be witches’ familiars.
The Puritans (circa 1600s) believed that witches could actually shape-shift into black cats and spy on their neighbors.
3. Black cats were thought to be a sailor's best friend.
Sailors and their wives saw black cats as guardians of safe passage. These inky felines were seen as harbingers of such good fortune that they became a hot commodity, and some sailors couldn’t even afford to buy them.
4. In Ireland, Cait Sidhe, pronounced “caught shee,” were mythical, fairy-like creatures who took the form of large, all-black cats were said to be the King of the Cats.
On the night of Samhain (a Celtic festival similar to Halloween), if you left a saucer of milk out for the fairy cat, your house would be blessed. If no milk was left for the mysterious black cat, you would be cursed and all your cows' milk would dry up.
5. They are said to be "super cats."
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health discovered that the genetic mutations that cause cats to have black coats may offer them some protection from diseases.
6. They can rust.
All right, so your black cat won't actually rust if you leave them out in the rain. They will complain VERY loudly, though. But if your black cat has a tabby stripe gene and spends hours napping in a sunbeam, their fur can turn a rusty brown color. Why? The sun’s rays break down the pigment in their fur to reveal the underlying tabby stripes.
7. Black cats make excellent wingmen.
In Japan, young women are encouraged to own black felines to increase their chance of romance. And in the English Midlands, giving a bride the gift of a black cat was thought to bring her good luck.
8. Black cats are often overlooked for adoption.
Black cats are often the last to get adopted and may be passed over for cats of other colors despite the fact that they're just cats like any other cat. It could be because of the superstitions surrounding their inky fur or the belief that black cats are harder to photograph.