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