Posted on Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Hartz Explores the Classic Role of Black Cats in Halloween Lore


A quick Google search of black cats and Halloween is sure to usher up a web browser full of superstition, myth and eerie tales. Bearers of bad luck, familiars to witches, cursed and creepy, black cats have gotten a bit of a bad reputation in the Western world. But rather than a black cat crossing your path bringing bad luck, some cultures have found midnight tabbies to be nothing short of sacred.

Ancient Egyptians loved their cats, and prized the black ones over all others. The same goes for modern Japan, where folks consider black cats to be symbols of good luck. Even the British have their own positive spin on the legend! If you’re looking to trace back America’s distrust of black cats, you won’t have to look much further than Salem, Massachusetts, in the late 17th century. As Puritan colonials persecuted local women as witches, superstitions spread until the witch-hunting craze had become endemic throughout New England. Alongside the supposed witches, plenty of innocent black cats met untimely deaths thanks to close-minded and paranoid pilgrims. Want to go back further? According to PetSide.com, the Roman Catholic Church in Europe made its feelings on dark-furred kitties known in the 13th century, when Pope Gregory IX intoned that the Devil liked to take up the guise of a black cat. As a result, a number of cats were killed outright, leading some historians to theorize that the profluence of the Black Plague, which followed soon after and was carried by the same rats the cats would have hunted, is directly related.

The source also points out that many black dogs got the raw end of the deal as well, frequently cited as bad omens or hellhounds. The scourge of this is still alive today in the form of Black Dog Syndrome – the belief that black-furred shelter dogs are less likely to be adopted than their fluffy, white sheltermates. In fact, there may be no better time to adopt a black cat or dog than this Halloween.

Websites such as PetsUnlimited.org are offering up a lucky 13 great reasons to bring a black kitty into your home. Number five may just be the best – “Your cat doesn’t care what color YOUR hair is!” So before you run out to stock up on Halloween candy for the trick-or-treaters, be sure to grab some extra cat treats as well. If you don’t already have a special pet at home, now’s the perfect time to bring one there with you. This content post is provided by the pet experts at Hartz.