Black Cat Appreciation Day

Black Cats Rule!

August 17th is national Black Cat Day in America. It's a good time to raise awareness about our darker feline friends. Black cats need and deserve a day of remembrance, as their lives have been considered to be mysterious and special, being revered as lucky in Japan, England, and Ireland. Black cats are viewed as unlucky in other countries which has lead to the need to raise awareness about these special creatures.

I own a beautiful black cat that I named Magic. She's got a sweet personality and she's been a pleasure to have as a companion. With the upcoming holiday it's a good time to let others know that black cats deserve love too!

The Egyptian Goddess Bastet
The Egyptian Goddess Bastet

Worshiped and Revered in Ancient Times

Even though cats have been revered since ancient times they have been scapegoated as being one of the harbingers of bad luck, even representing the devil, himself. People have gone to great lengths to make sure that a black cat does not cross their path. But where did these legends begin? And what impact has it had for our darker feline friends even in this modern day?

At one time in our world cats were revered as sacred creatures. We know that the ancient Egyptians worshipped a goddess that was named Bastet, who was the protector of cats. Bastet was depicted as a human woman who had a cat's head. Her statues were in a cat's form, and she had temples dedicated to her worship. In Egypt, cats were an important and useful part of society as they worked alongside humans to eliminate rodents and other pests that would spoil food.

Bastet also represented fertility for the Egyptians. As anyone knows if left to their own nature cats are prolific at reproducing. So it made sense to them to revere and worship the one thing that helped them so much, the cat who preserved home and family. The cats were so sacred that after their deaths they were mummified and buried with the family so that they could be together in the afterlife.

The Witch's Companion
The Witch's Companion

The Dark Ages of the Black Cat

In later times, with the rise of Christianity throughout Europe, new legends surrounding these creatures appeared in society. Christianity had a way of connecting things belonging to nature with works of the devil and as such, the cat, but particularly the black cat, was no exception.

By the time 1484 rolled around, it was Pope Innocent VII who declared that both women and cats were witches and had to be burned at the stake. this harsh penalty came about from the publishing of a book titled "Malleus Maleficarum, The Hammer of Witches," which detailed ways in which women and cats were in league with the devil and how they should be eliminated from society. The harsh penalty for associating with either was death.

Unfortunately for all who were involved at the time, the plague crept across Europe as black cats, and cats in general were hunted and killed. It was not known to the people of the time that the plague was spread by rats who carried fleas that had the plague virus. You can imagine in a world that was turned upside down by death and disease it was easy for them to blame animals for what happened in society.

Even in later times after the witchcraft trials were long over, the myths surrounding cats and their connection to evil persisted. In 1893, the author Matilda Joslyn Gage explored feminism's connection to witchcraft, magic and the black cat in her book titled Women, Church and State. "A witch was held to be a woman who had deliberately sold herself to the evil one; who delighted in injuring others..and to whom all black animals had a special relationship." The black cat had become entrenched in society as something that was a constant reminder of evil.

Adopting a Black Cat

People's attitudes about this special creature have not changed much throughout time. When I first adopted my first black cat, the people at the adoption agency asked me specific questions about his care and his future with me. At the time, I didn't understand the kind of struggle black cats go through in society just to be adopted. People will adopt them for the Halloween season and then just use them as decoration; they are the most overlooked kind of cat in the shelter and stand the most chance of being harmed by others in society.

My time spent with both of my black cats have been an absolute blessing. They have sweet but shy personalities, and they are usually a very good judge of character. If you make friends with a black cat, he or she will be your friend for life. The black cat that you adopt will never be like any other cat that you have ever owned. Let us put away the superstition and love these creatures for the beautiful and friendly companions that they are. August 17 is National Black Cat Day, so give some time to consider adopting a furry friend or hug the one you already have.

Here, Kitty Kitty!
Here, Kitty Kitty!

Some Black Cat Facts for You to Know

  1. They are intelligent creatures with lots of love to give, so it's worth getting to know a black cat in person!
  2. They are the last to be adopted at shelters and the first to be put down, so they are endangered from the outset.
  3. Black cats are in danger in the weeks before and after Halloween! Keep your pet safe during this time and don't let them wander too far from home.
  4. Black Cats fur can "rust" in the sun. My black cat Shadow spent so much time sunning himself in the summer one year that his back turned rust red. It was just temporary, however, with his normal color coming back in the winter.
  5. According to research, black cats are more disease resistant, including to the autoimmune FIV disease. Simply amazing!

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