In 2011, August 17 became known as Black Cat Appreciation Day. This was the result of a personal public-awareness campaign launched by Wayne H. Morris earlier that year on Facebook. He chose August 17 in memory of his sister’s passing and her 20-year-old black cat, Sinbad, who died two months before her.
Are you wondering why there needs to be a day for this? Well as it turns out the old stigma surrounding Black Cats, that they are bad luck or evil in some way, still continues and often makes it difficult for them to be adopted from shelters and even tend to be euthanized more often as a result. Some shelters even make it a point to not adopt out black cats around Halloween for fear that they are simply being used as living decorations or costume accessories for the holiday, or worse sacrificed in some “satanic” ritual. Snopes.com talks about this issue, but regards these myths as inconclusive or more urban myth than urban reality in a 2005 article.
Though the Catholic Church may not be the only root for this superstition, the fear for black cats does go as far back as 1233 where in the Church’s history Pope Gregory IX told believers that the devil routinely meets his worshippers disguised as a black cat which caused, or at least heavily contributed to, the black cat massacre that inadvertently allowed the Black Plague to become so widespread in Europe due to the number of rats that were no longer being hunted and killed because of the declining cat population.
Unfortunately, this myth surrounding black cats is still applied and perpetuated in our culture. Films and other forms of media play off this still prevalent superstition and people’s fear of the unknown. Black cats are nothing more than cats who are black in color and deserve the same love and attention that any pet, or would be pet, should have.
Ironically, in light of this day, late last night while Tara and I were leaving a friend’s house, a small female black cat walked up to me as I put some items in the trunk of the car. She was sweet, had no tags, and seemed to love me a whole lot as she constantly rubbed against my legs over and over! My first thought when I saw her was, “what are you doing out?” while my second thought was, “how are we going to leave with her hanging around the car?” I called Tara over to meet her and after some petting and watching her roll around on the street like the silly-head she apparently was, Tara got back into the car to start leaving, while I walked the cat away from the street. With the cat a safe distance from the car, Tara drove very slowly to end of the street with me between her and the cat who just followed me as I followed the car to the end of the block, which of course didn’t resolve the problem of how was I going to get into the car with the cat at a safe distance. In a final effort, I picked her up and placed her in a nearby yard so I could get in the car and we could safely depart. We both hated leaving her out there where she could get injured and at 12:15am what else could we have done? We assumed that she already had a home and that she had been let out for the night.
We have a rather large black cat named Henry Lee, who has been featured in the several pictures found in this post. Tara and I often jokingly refer to him as our rescue panther. He’ll be 3 years old in September, he has big expressive yellow eyes, and he is 99.94% all black as he has some random white hairs on him. At any time during the day or night, one can hear him talking on occasion as he is known to mumble to himself as he strolls up and down the hall. He even likes to have conversations with others when they speak to him or call his name and like many cats he has a creepy tendency to stare at things that aren’t there. Most of all, he is a great host because he will happily join our guests in the bathroom and take advantage of their momentary immobile state to beg for head scratches! He is very insistent.
Happy Black Cat Appreciation Day everyone!