The end of October is marked by a special celebration in many English-speaking countries: Halloween. This day comes with its share of cooky parties and elaborate costumes.
But Halloween is also synonymous with myths and beliefs, which usually include animals in the mix. And black cats are never far in those strange tales.
If such is the case, then from where does it come? Let’s delve back into the shadowy history of the black cat.
Because of the dark tone of their fur, life has been difficult for them. Black cats still have the lowest demand at animal shelters.
Legend says if you go past a black cat walking from right to left, you should prepare for a run of unfortunate events.
Yet, things weren’t always so grim for black critters. In ancient Egypt, all cats, regardless of the color of their coats, were shown the same respect.
This was because cats were revered as emblems of fertility and feared for their mice-killing ability. Besides, in Egyptian mythology, the popular goddess Bastet was represented by a feline headed-figure.
Over the years, things evolved in the western culture around the turn of the eighth century.
In the wake of the Catholic Church’s crusade against pre-Christian pagan rituals, during which the color black became synonymous with Satan, the black cat acquired a new reputation.
Black cats are vilified
The animal was represented as the corporeal incarnation of Satan on Earth in papal bulls, which led to the beginning of a backlash. And it went on for centuries.
Throughout the Middle Ages, there was a widespread belief that a witch’s familiar animal was a black cat. According to popular culture, witches could turn into black cats and spread evil.
Subsequently, black felines face endless persecution. They were sought out, pursued, and ultimately slain, often in heinous ways.
There were times when the life of the black cat was on the verge of being lost. According to some European schools of thought, once a black cat had a little tuft of white hair on its neck, the animal was no longer associated with the devil.
In Brittany, a single white hair pulled from a black moggy’s fur could save the poor creature from death. The black cat rejection lasted until modern times.
Thankfully, contemporary black cats nowadays also have their advocates, all of whom praise the virtues of living with a panther lookalike.
The apparition of black cats in popular shows such as Salem the cat in the Sabrina series has also improved the animal’s image. Furthermore, animal welfare associations created Black cat day to promote its adoption. It’s held on October 27th.