What is it about Black Cats?

I was reminded of this by yet another animal shelter here in the UK putting out a plea on social media for people to consider providing a home to black cats to save them from being euthanised.

Many years ago, my much loved black cat was shot by an air rifle. I was shocked, yet assumed it had been an accident. Sadly, the vet was quick to put me straight. Unsurprisingly, I was distraught, but my cat did recover, and lived – if with arthritis – until the ripe old age of 17. But it shook me…

I remember learning about superstitions when I first moved to the UK. Don’t walk under a ladder, it’s bad luck to let a black cat cross your path (although, confusingly, some believed the opposite), when you spill salt you have to toss a pinch over your shoulder to ward off the devil etc. My grandparents were terribly superstitious – my grandfather was an ardent follower of horoscopes and absolutely adamant that the number 7 was lucky for him, while my grandmother refused to have peacock feathers in the house or any green interior decor (due to bad luck), on top of all those I’ve previously mentioned. I thought they were old and odd… and paid no attention.

Not walking under ladders in case of spillages from above at least made sense to me, but I’ve never walked around them if it meant serious effort, especially when there was nothing up there to spill. I don’t believe I’ll have 7 years of bad luck if I break or crack a mirror. If I did, I’d have given up on life by now. But the fact that there are still those who believe black cats are bad luck, worse that they’re witches’ familiars, is simply mind boggling. Yet, it appears those beliefs do still persist.

What surprised me even more, was hearing that this problem also extends to black dogs. The only negative connotation I’ve ever heard in relation to black dogs is it’s one of the euphemisms used for depression. Winston Churchill used to refer to the depressive periods he famously suffered from as his black dog. So, is that the reason? Or is there something negative about the colour black?

For me, black is my go-to colour. It’s classic, suits my hair and skin colour, is easy to accessorise, and is the perfect colour for that special occasion dress. Even the doyenne of fashion Coco Chanel once said “Black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony.” So what is it about black cats & dogs?

There have been a fair number of black cats in my life. I’ve adored them all. Each and every one has been friendly, character-full, fun-loving, affectionate, and they really like people. I’ve also lived with and loved a black-and-white, a ginger, a Siamese and a black Oriental. All were lovely and loved, but the black cats still remain my favourite – whether pedigree or not. When I can have cats again, they’ll be black. I love a ginger cat too, but I feel it’s important to go with my first love what with public opinion being so against them. Black cats are devilishly difficult to photograph, but I really cannot think of a single other negative.

If you were to have a dog or a cat, would you avoid black? What do you think of these superstitions?

© Debra Carey, 2021

13 thoughts on “What is it about Black Cats?

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  1. Here’s what I think about superstitions, they’re fascinating to know about and research and contemplate, BUT I don’t take them seriously. I like black cats and dogs. No problem. I don’t wear black around my face anymore, it’s too harsh for old me. But as a basic for skirts and pants and shoes I’m cool with it.

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  2. I just fall in love with a pet. Color doesn’t matter. In fact when we were leaving Kong to get a new pup I was drawn to a black one…we got Betty cause she’s just so loving

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  3. I’m a believer in making one’s own luck (or lack thereof) from prior actions and habits, and realizing opportunities when they happen. I’ve never cared about a pet’s coat colour, only their personality being a good fit with mine. Sad to read that so many do still consider this…but to the point of shooting at black cats??? That is truly terrible.


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  4. Ally, I totally get what you say about superstitions – they’re interesting to examine and learn about, but in a way that is never going to impact on my own daily life. I know that navy is a slightly better option for me that black, but have you ever tried matching shades of navy? It’s a horror. I don’t wear navy separates for this reason, but I do love my navy dresses.

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  5. LA, that’s exactly how we should all select pets. I had my first black cat as that’s what was left in the litter after my daughter chose her tabby kitten. That black kitten grew up to be the most wonderful cat who was loved by all who met him. He set the standard for all subsequent selections and it was a high one 🙂

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  6. Deb, I’m absolutely with you on luck (or the lack of it). I hear talk about people being lucky, but I suspect behind the luck is someone who worked hard, took risks others might veer away from, and grabbed the chances when they came. I take my hat off to them, but know I’m relatively risk-averse and do to what they do would scare the pants off me. I’m trying to dare more this year, but so far it’s only been with baby steps 😀

    I was absolutely shocked to consider my cat had been shot intentionally. It put me in a real funk for quite a while. I generally think the best of people but this really rocked my world – and not in a good way.

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  7. No Jane, neither did I. Even though I got my first black cat because he was the only remaining option in the litter, it never occurred to me for one moment to think there was anything untoward in the colour of his coat. People eh?

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  8. Your mentioning of your grandparents’ superstitions made me laugh. I can still remember the look on my grandmother’s face when I opened an umbrella in the house once. I thought she would burst a vein in her face! Only later did my mother explain that it was bad luck to do so. I had no idea, of course. – Marty

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  9. Marty, your comment made me think. I wonder if the current generation have superstitions and, if so, what they are. My daughter is too old to ask, but the students she teaches are the perfect age. I must ask if she’s noticed anything.

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  10. Hmm. We recently watched a show where a character left a cell phone in the house after closing and locking the door. He was about to re-enter and fetch it, but his girlfriend implored him not to do so. She said it was bad luck. I figured it was made up for the show, but maybe not?

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  11. Crikey Marty, that is an odd one. I’m with you on assuming it was made up, but I’ll be sure to ask around about that one.


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