The black cat has been given a bit of a rotten deal. There are too many superstitions and far too much misinformation about these cats just because they happen to be black.
But black cats are no different from any other cat—they just happen to have black fur! Since these cats aren’t adopted as quickly as other differently colored cats, they have an entire month dedicated to them, which is the month of October.
Let’s delve into the history of Black Cat Awareness Month and the best ways to celebrate these beautiful felines.
When Is Black Cat Awareness Month?
Black Cat Awareness Month is observed in October. During this time, many rescue organizations and groups work to raise awareness that black cats are not bad luck and are just as loving and amazing as every other cat out there.
October used to be a month when rescue groups would not allow the adoption of black cats at all because too many adopters were dumping (or worse) their cats after Halloween. Self-proclaimed cat expert and author Layla Morgan Wilde established Black Cat Awareness Month because she hoped to turn this around.
Not only is there an awareness month, but there is also National Black Cat Appreciation Day on August 17 (U.S.) and National Black Cat Day on October 27 (U.K.).
While these efforts are commendable, it’s unfortunate that ongoing superstition has made it necessary to create special days and a month to raise awareness because a cat happens to be born with a black coat.
Why Is There a Black Cat Awareness Month?
Black cats have long been associated with bad luck, witches, and evil, but these outdated beliefs seem to have stuck around even today.
The sad and horrifying truth is that since many of these superstitious beliefs have continued, black cats are often a target of abuse. A 2020 study found that black cats have the lowest rate of adoption (10%) and the highest rate of euthanasia (74.6%)1.
Due to the superstitions and history of black cats in our society, Black Cat Awareness Month was conceived to attempt to call attention to these cats and debunk the misconceptions.
How Did Black Cats Become So Vilified?
It’s believed that the domestication of cats began in Ancient Egypt, where cats were revered to the point where if someone killed a cat, accidentally or not, they were often given a death sentence.
Later, however, Christianity in medieval Europe started to vilify anything considered pagan. Since cats were linked to paganism, they became a scapegoat for everything evil, and it went downhill from there.
In 1233 C.E., Pope Gregory IX stated that cats were the incarnation of the devil, which caused the public to burn black cats alive to demonstrate their piety2.
The cat population was alarmingly low by the 1300s, and it’s thought that since there weren’t enough cats eradicating rodents, this might have led to the plague spreading faster.
As time went on, cats became strongly associated with witches, with some believing that cats were actually witches in disguise. It was also thought that if a black cat was a witch’s familiar for 7 years, they could be transformed into a witch.
During the late 1600s, the Salem witch trials were in full swing, and just owning a black cat could lead to a trial and execution.
The most well-known superstition regarding black cats is if a black cat crosses your path, you’ll have bad luck. It’s also supposed to be bad luck if a black cat walks away from you or if you see one during a funeral procession, after which another relative will die.
You would think that in today’s society, we wouldn’t continue to be ruled by these odd superstitions, but they seem to prevail. Cats are not evil—they are just animals.
Are Black Cats Ever Good Luck?
Yes! For all the negativity and bad luck surrounding black cats, there are plenty of superstitions that make the black cat a symbol of good luck:
Tips to Celebrate Black Cat Awareness Month
There are many ways that you can show your support for black cats, whether it’s Black Cat Awareness Month, one of the special black cat days, or any time, really.
This can be done by word of mouth and just by speaking to people or posting on social media. Other than being beautiful felines, black cats also have the advantage of shedding black fur, which doesn’t show up as much on your things—unless you wear mostly white and have a white home.
Use the #BlackCatAwarenessMonth hashtag, and remember that if even one person adopts a black cat, that’s one more cat in a loving home.
Debunk the Ridiculous Superstitions
This can be done on social media or in person by informing people that the superstitions surrounding black cats are entirely bogus. You can even discuss the good luck superstitions held in different parts of the world.
It’s important to stress that the legends surrounding cats came from a time when people were superstitious and highly fearful. Hopefully, our society has moved past the beliefs held in the Middle Ages!
Adopt a Black Cat
If you’ve been thinking about adopting a kitten or adult cat, consider adopting a black one. Ensuring that a black kitty has a safe home would be one of the best ways to celebrate Black Cat Awareness Month!
If you do go out and adopt a black cat or if you already have one, post a bunch of adorable and funny photos and videos online.
Nothing can say as much about the best part of owning a black cat as the visual medium—and you must admit, black cats are quite photogenic!
Volunteering at your local rescue group or animal shelter is an excellent way to help out all animals in need. You might work directly with the homeless animals or help with adoptions or emails in the office. You can do this for just October or consider making it a year-round commitment.
Black cats are gorgeous animals that can be various breeds and have differing hair lengths (like the Bombay or the Norwegian Forest Cat), but all deserve loving homes.
While we humans have moved beyond many superstitions, there’s always room for improvement. Be aware of any black cats in your neighborhood, especially in October, and help out homeless animals, particularly black cats, whenever you can.
Featured Image Credit: wolfness72, Shutterstock
- When Is Black Cat Awareness Month?
- Why Is There a Black Cat Awareness Month?
- How Did Black Cats Become So Vilified?
- Are Black Cats Ever Good Luck?
- Tips to Celebrate Black Cat Awareness Month
- Raise Awareness
- Debunk the Ridiculous Superstitions
- Adopt a Black Cat
- Share Pictures and Videos