As spooky season nears its peak with Halloween, you’ve likely seen a black cat decoration or two over the past few weeks. The association of fright with black cats isn’t really all that fair, though, unless you’re talking about the fright you experience when your black cat gets an especially terrifying case of the zoomies. There’s a lot more to them than being October’s unofficial mascot, though. Learn some fun facts below!
Black Cats Are Quite Common
There’s a good chance you’ve seen a few black cats sauntering around your neighborhood, or at a rescue when you’ve been looking to adopt. That’s not all that surprising, as black is one of the most common coat colors in felines.
It’s thought that black fur provides an evolutionary advantage because it makes hunting at night easier, and it also makes it easier to evade predators. This may increase the survival chances of black cats, who then pass on their genes to the next generation. It may also provide health advantages, which will be delved into further down in this list.
They Can Have Sun Bleached Fur
They may be black cats, but they can totally get some frosted highlights! Well, rusty highlights. Black cats are able to become sun bleached if they spend a lot of time outdoors. This leads their fur to take on a reddish-brown hue. If your kitty hasn’t been spending time outdoors and their fur is changing colors like this, though, it may be a sign of health issues, so be sure to ask your vet about that.
They May Have a Little Magic About Them… Through Their Immune Systems
Okay, they may not actually be witches’ familiars, but there may be some magic in them. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health found that the genetic mutations that cause black fur may also give the cats who have it strong immune systems and protect them from certain diseases. They appear to be more resistant to FIV, which has some scientists hopeful that studying this resistance could help tackle HIV in humans.
They’re More Likely to Be Euthanized
Despite their robust health, studies have shown that black cats are more apt to be put down. This isn’t because of being adopted less, however. Research done by Dr. Emily Weiss from the ASPCA showed that the majority of cats that come into shelters are black, but they’re not adopted at a lesser rate. In fact, they’re adopted at higher rates than cats of other colors. There are just more black cats at shelters overall, so there would be more waiting for homes, and unfortunately, more of them euthanized.
They Have Been Thought to Be Bad Luck for Many Reasons
Where did the origin of the bad luck black cat come from? It may be rooted in lack of medical knowledge and the desire to blame someone for outbreaks of illnesses. One of the scapegoats was unfortunately the black cat. They were seen as mysterious and spooky as they moved in and out of the shadows, and were also associated with witches, so were easy to pinpoint as the bringer of diseases like the Bubonic Plague. While it was primarily spread by rats, cats that preyed on infected rats could also become infected and spread the disease. Unfortunately, as cats were blamed and killed, fewer rats were preyed on by cats, making matters worse for humans.
You Don’t Need Dating Apps if You Have a Black Cat
Not everyone is so keen on labeling black cats as bad luck. If you’re a lady looking for that special someone, Japanese folklore encourages you to bring home a black cat. They’re thought to attract suitors. Not surprising. Who can resist the possibility of having a house panther as a stepchild?
If You’re Ready to Sail Away, Bring a Black Cat
Sailors traditionally couldn’t resist having a house panther as a shipmate, either. British and Irish sailors long believed that having a black cat on board would lead to a safe journey and good luck. Their wives also felt that having a pet black cat would bring their husbands home in one piece.
One such feline that sailed the high seas was Tiddles, who served aboard the aircraft carrier the HMS Victorious. Throughout his time in the Royal Navy, Tiddles logged more than 30,000 miles.
They Were Good Luck Charms for a King
King Charles I of England had a black cat of whom he was very fond. He was convinced the little feline brought him good luck. There may have been something to that, as the story goes that the day after his cat died, he was arrested for treason and executed soon after. Maybe Charlie knew what he was talking about.
They’ve Served in The White House
The King wasn’t the only world leader to have a black cat companion. Among the cats that have served in the Oval Office was India, the longtime family cat of George W. Bush’s family. They adopted her in 1991 and named her after Rubén “El Indio” Sierra, who played for the Texas Rangers. Former president Bush owned the team at the time. India was said to be a big fan of the library and hiding under the bed from her people.
She died at age 18 in January 2009 shortly before the Obama family took up residence in the White House.
They’re Internet Influencers
Black cats have also made their mark on the social media world. Willow, from the Instagram account Van Cat Meow, has been traveling in a camper van across Australia for years with her human dad. A few years ago, he got married, and now the trio explores the vast country together. A pair of fellow Aussie cats, Nathan and Winnie, are beach bums that adventure with their humans, as well.
One of the original black cat influencers was Cole of Cole and Marmalade. He unfortunately passed away a few years ago, but his more than half a million followers remember him fondly.