Black cats are well known for their association with Halloween, witchcraft, and bad luck. However, despite their reputation, they are unique felines that are thought to bring good luck in some countries, and they have a rich history dating all the way back to the Middle Ages. Of course, other than the color of their fur, black cats are really no different from any other feline; the difference is in how people think about them.
If you're interested in learning more about these fabulous felines, read on for some fun facts!
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The Background of Black Cats and Witches
Black cats are quintessential Halloween icons—and the number one costume choice for both elementary-aged children and women in their freshman year of college, oddly enough—but do you know how they got such a spooky rap?
Beginning in the Middle Ages, black cats became associated with Satan, witches, and witchcraft; some people went so far as to believe that black cats were cohorts to witches or even witches who had taken on another form. This widespread superstition resulted in the horrific mass killing of black cats—and sometimes even their owners.
Aside from continuing to represent all things eerie, the fear of black cats still has some influence today. Many animal shelters won’t place black cats in homes during the month of October for fear of them being used sacrificially.Continue to 2 of 11 below.
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Black Cats Can Help Your Love Life
Forget the stereotypical depiction of the perpetually single cat lady. In some parts of the world, it’s believed that black cats can actually improve your love life.
In Japan, for example, single women who own black cats are believed to attract more suitors. In Great Britain’s English Midlands, a black cat is the ideal wedding gift; they’re believed to bring good luck and happiness to the bride.Continue to 3 of 11 below.
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Black Cats Have a Sailing History
Ship's cats were once a common thing; historically, sailors brought cats aboard ships to control rodents that could destroy food stores or damage the ship itself. But British sailors believed a black cat would bring the ship good luck and ensure a safe return home.
It was a little more complicated for pirates, though. They believed a black cat walking toward you was bad luck, a black cat walking away from you was good luck, and if a cat boarded the ship and then jumped off, the ship was going to sink.Continue to 4 of 11 below.
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Black Cats Can Resist Disease
In the early 2000's, 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. In fact, the mutations affect the same genes that offer HIV resistance to some humans.
Since cats can experience many of the same health issues as we do—cancer, HIV, and cognitive dysfunction similar to Alzheimer's, to name a few—they make perfect models for studying human disease. By figuring out how cats have evolved to resist diseases, researchers can, potentially, learn how to prevent disease in humans as well.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Black Cats Can Change Color
If your black cat loves to lounge in the sun—and what feline doesn't?—the UV rays can break down the black pigment in the cat's fur, changing it to a rusty color. The affected fur will remain discolored, but once shed, will be replaced by fresh black fur once again.Continue to 6 of 11 below.
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In Some Places, Black Cats Mean Good Luck
While black cats are mostly associated with bad luck in North America, that's not the case around the world. In Scotland, tradition holds that a black cat on the doorstep means money is on the way. The French have a similar association between black cats and financial riches. In Germany, a black cat crossing your path means good luck, not bad, is on the way.Continue to 7 of 11 below.
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Black Cats are Not a Breed
While many different breeds of cat include solid black as an accepted coat color, simply being a black cat is not a specific breed. However, one feline breed, the Bombay, was specifically bred to only have solid black fur, along with black foot pads and even black whiskers. These gorgeous kitties resemble little house panthers, but are friendly and affectionate domestic cats.Continue to 8 of 11 below.
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Black is Genetically Dominant
When it comes to feline coat color, black is genetically dominant, although most black cats are not a solid black, but have some patches of white, as well. Still, overall, black is the most common color of domesticated cats.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Most Black Cats Have Yellow Eyes
While feline eye color covers a wide range of hues, the vast majority of black cats have yellow or golden eyes. The striking contrast between black fur and yellow eyes adds even more mystique to these fabulous felines.Continue to 10 of 11 below.
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Black Cats Have Their Own Day
While every cat firmly believes that every day is devoted entirely to them, black cats have their very own specific day of the year: October 27, four days before Halloween. National Black Cat Day celebrates the black cat in hopes of dispelling myths about bad luck.Continue to 11 of 11 below.
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Patterns Can Be Hidden Underneath Black Fur
Look at a solid black cat in the sunlight, and you may very well see faint stripes within the fur. That's because although black is genetically dominant as a fur color, the striped tabby pattern is genetically dominant as a fur pattern, and in cats with genes for both black fur and tabby patterning, the stripes can be "hidden" under the black coloring.
How long do black cats live?
No matter what color they are, the average lifespan of a domesticated cat that is kept entirely indoors is about 15 years, give or take. Cats that are allowed to roam outdoors, however, generally have much shorter lives.
Are black cats affectionate?
Every cat has a unique personality that is not tied to the color of its coat. While black cats can be very friendly and affectionate pets, there are also black cats that are more aloof.
Why do black cats have bald spots?
Black cats have a reputation for getting more bald spots than other cats, but it's really an optical illusion: we notice the spots more because the cat is black. That being said, cats get bald spots for many reasons, from fleas to parasites. If your black cat has a bald spot, ask your vet why!