Today is National Black Cat Appreciation Day! It’s a relatively new holiday, which was started in 2011 as a Facebook campaign to honor the struggle of black cats. That struggle is the sad fact that due to outdated and misguided superstition, black cats are the least likely to be adopted at animal shelters, and have the highest rate of euthanization. This year, adoption centers are using the date to draw attention to dark-furred felines everywhere.
In Florida, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay is waiving all adoption fees today for black cats and kittens. And the ASPCA has put together a small list of available black cats on their website, any of which can be found at their adoption center in New York City. Cat Care Society is also offering adoption discounts and offering people the chance to have all fees waived; their center is located in Lakewood, Colorado. And many more places are offering similar deals.
In an attempt to dispel the myths that cause the stigma surrounding these animals, the Animal Foundation noted that despite black cats’ association with bad luck, it wasn’t always that way. “Let’s go back a few centuries,” they noted, “to the Egyptian times of 3,000 B.C., when black cats were actually held in the highest esteem and to harm one was considered a capital crime. Sailors also believed in having a black cat aboard their ships to bring good luck.” Nevertheless, “black cats are still the least likely to be adopted, and they need people to give them a chance!”
Ironically enough, however, the labor movement has used the symbol of a black cat to its advantage. According to the Industrial Workers of the World’s dictionary and glossary, the union used it to represent the idea of sabotage; in other words, to get ready to cause a little “bad luck” for an unfair or exploitative employer, likely through an upcoming strike. The symbol used was designed by writer and labor activist Ralph Chaplin.
Another reason for people’s prejudice toward black cats is due to a perceived association with the occult, particularly witchcraft. But even there, it’s no reason for hate. Wiccans, who practice a peaceful, alternative form of spirituality and who respect and cherish nature and life, do indeed often use cats as familiars (spirit guides of sorts, which can assist in matters of magic). But black cats are so chosen because Wiccans believe they have the ability to empathize with humans. The cats are thought to provide emotional and spiritual healing. They are loved and treated as lifelong companions.
Furthermore, an adopted black cat might itself be lucky! According to National Geographic, melanism, the condition that produces yellow eyes and black fur, is believed to hold immunological benefits for cats, especially resistance to certain pathogens, which would make them less likely to become sick. Your cat might also be better protected; melanism arose from a need for members of the cat family (Felidae) to hide more easily from predators, and to ambush prey.
Above all, there are simply many cats out there, black or otherwise, that need a home and a loving family.
Photo: Free cat wallpaper site