Anyone with any sense knows that blacks cats are lucky.
A number of countries currently have a widespread believe of this – for example most of Great Britain, Scotland in particular and most of Asia, notably Japan.
Historically even more countries adhered to this belief, for example ancient Egypt worshipped a cat goddess Bast (also known as Bastet) who apparently had a preference for black cats and Norse mythology tells of Freye (a goddess linked to war, death and fertility) who has a chariot pulled by two black cats.
(photo from Pinterest)
The trouble seems to have started with Christianity, specifically there were a couple of Popes who had issues with cats (notably Pope Gregory IX (1147-1241), Pope Innocent VII (1339-1406) and Pope Innocent VIII (1432-1492)) which probably didn’t help.
Apparently nasty little Gregory IX felt it was ok in 1233 to issue a Papal Bull called Vox in Rama (a Papal Bull being a glorified memo to all believers) saying that black cats were evil and should be burnt. I really want to rename him Joffrey.
If it hadn’t been for the randomly cat-fearing Popes then the impact of the Black Death (bubonic plague) could well have been significantly less – based on the belief that the disease came from fleas from small mammals (including rats). Which arguably makes the Church culpable for the deaths of everyone in Europe who died of plague.
Modern American was founded by pilgrims and they brought their god with them, so by considering black cats to be bad luck America is hanging onto an outdated belief that Satan might be a cat – which is rather silly.
(Photo seems to be originally from National Geographic but it was on multiple sites – both with and without captions, so who really knows!)
In popular literature Mikhail Bulgakov’s satire ‘The Master and Margarita’ features a gigantic black cat called Behemoth who accompanies Satan in tormenting the Moscow literary elite. He is sarcastic and rude with a passion for guns, vodka and chess. I would have expected the gun-link alone to have won Behemoth’s black kitty brethren some friends from a significant section of the vocal US population.
The popularity of Salem from ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’ seems to suggest that a large proportion of non-gun-toting Americans should also like sarcastic black cats – all cats have a sarcastic streak as evidenced by the look of distain they can manage when their human does something stupid (like going to the cupboard and failing to get out the tuna).
Some people on the internet have traced America’s fear of black cats to the Salem Witch Trials and the belief that witches could turn into cats. A quick skim of the trials found me a couple of dogs but no cats; it is also worth mentioning that British folklore has a number of stories about witches turning into hares but we aren’t afraid of hares, we eat them…
Photo from random website via Pinterest
Bottom line: cats, regardless of colour, should be treated and respected as a living, breathing sentient beings. The last time that this was ignored on a mass scale the bubonic plague swept across Europe and killed millions, which is a pretty big hint to be especially nice to cats.
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