For many of us, October 27 doesn’t suggest any special occasion or holiday. For others, the date October 27 is only significant because it marks just four days until Halloween, one of the world’s most cherished holidays. But did you know that October 27 is National Black Cat Day—a day where cat lovers everywhere celebrate their cuddly, dark-furred friends?
Over the past several years, Cats Protection, a United Kingdom-based charity dedicated to finding homes for unwanted and homeless cats, has designated October 27 as National Black Cat Day. Although similar in nature, the United States has coined August 17 as Black Cat Appreciation Day, which is meant to counter the superstitions surrounding black cats.
Do you want to find out more about black cats and why it’s so important we celebrate National Black Cat Day? In this article, we go in-depth to explore everything there is to know about this little-known national day.
Everything About Black Cats
Black cats are “solid” cats, meaning they have a single color of fur throughout their bodies. A solid back cat will either have a jet black, coal black, semi-gray or dark brown coat. In most cases, black cats will have inherited a recessive gene that prevents a second color of fur from being expressed in their phenotype.
Like dark-skinned humans, black cats have a high amount of melanin pigment in their skin, which causes dark or black-colored skin under their fur. In total, there are 22 distinct breeds of black cats recognized around the world.
Most black cat breeds lighten due to sun exposure. In other words, their dark fur will become noticeably less dark if they lounge in the sunshine for long period of time. Even if their fur “rusts” so that it appears brown, they are still considered black cats as their fur will return to normal during less sunny seasons.
Black Cat Breeds
According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CSA), a US organization dedicated to registering cat pedigrees, the definition of a black cat is one with a coat that is “dense coal black, sound from roots to tip of fur” with a black leather nose and black or brown paw pads.
There are 22 breeds that match the definition of black cat set by the CSA. However, the Bombay cat is by far the most common breed. The Bombay cat is short-haired cat of Asian descent that features panther-like fur. They have a sleek, muscular build and weigh up to thirteen pounds, which has led to their reputation as a “mini black panther”.
Although the Bombay cat is the breed you are most likely to find as pets in homes around the world, there are several other common black cat breeds as well. Other black cat breeds include:
Occasionally, you can find black cats of the Ragamuffin, Oriental, and Sphynx variety. However, these black cats need to be specifically bred to not express any white or grey in their fur.
Why Celebrate National Black Cat Day
Now that we know what black cats are, that question remains: why should we celebrate National Black Cat Day? The answer is simple. Black cats, due to social prejudice caused by superstitious folklore, are less desirable than other cat breeds in certain cultures. Consequently, black cats are adopted in numbers far less than others.
The Royal Society for the Prevent of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) states that as many as 70 percent of unadopted and homeless cats are black. While several explanations have been offered, such as the fact that they are commonly considered “non-photogenic”, it may also be due to long-lasting superstitions.
In the United States, reports indicate that black cats are the least likely to be adopted. Consequently, black cats are most likely to live in shelters or roam the streets where they will have to fend off predators and flee from cars and other dangerous objects. To curb their bad rep, National Black Cat Day casts a positive light on black cats every year on October 27.
The Origin of the Black Cat Superstition
Unfortunately, old folklore surrounding black cats have caused a stigma to be attached to our dark-furred friends. In fact, the vilification of the black cat begins all the way back in the early 13the century in Medieval Europe when Pope Gregory IX condemned black cats for their supposed link to devil worship.
As outlandish as Pope Gregory’s edict may seem now, it was highly influential to the ordinary citizens of the time. During this era in European history, people were devoutly religious and were terrified by the threat of heresy. When the Pope declared that black cats were associated with heresy, demons, and the devil, the public started to shun them.
Legend has it that, during this time, Pope Gregory ordered a statue of a black cat with its tail stiff and pointed upward. To everyone’s surprise, the black cat statue came to life one day and terrorized the townspeople. Subsequently, strange religious sects that deviated from the Catholic faith started worshipping the black cat.
Modern Day Black Cat Superstitions
Despite first being condemned nearly 800 years ago, the stigma surrounding black cats has stuck around. Even today, many people still hold onto unfounded beliefs that black cats are associated with witchcraft, death, or bad luck. Therefore superstitious people avoid contacting black cats, and do not approach them when they are near one.
Association with Halloween
It is probably no coincidence that National Black Cat Day falls only four days before Halloween, everybody’s favorite spooky holiday. The original Plymouth Pilgrims in the early United States were extremely wary toward anything associated with witchcraft, such as black cats, which they reportedly captured and burned to cast them away from the world.
When Halloween gained popularity in the United States in the 19th century, the legends and old wives’ tales passed down from the Pilgrims resurfaced. These stories held that black cats were symbols of the devil, evil spirits, or ghosts. These associations caused black cats to become a symbol of Halloween itself.
Every October 31st, it is common to find adults and children alike dressed as black cats when they trick-or-treat or attend Halloween-themed office parties. Thankfully, this trend is now all in the spirit of good fun and does not involved any harm of cruelty toward black cats.
Where to Adopt Black Cats
This National Black Cat Day, consider adopting a black cat. If you think your home would make a good fit for a black-furred feline, reach out to your local animal shelter and ask if they have any black cats up for adoption. Chances are they will have plenty to choose from, since black cats are the least-adopted variety of domestic cat in the world.
If you live in the United States, consider contacting the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). On their website, you can find out all the information you need to adopt a black cat of your own. As America’s largest animal shelter foundations, adopting from your local ASPCA chapter is one of the best and most ethical ways to adopt a pet.
The Best Time To Adopt a Black Cat
If you are serious about adopting a black cat for National Black Cat Day, you should investigate whether your local adoption center or animal shelter offers special promotions or deals. In some cases, black cats are free to adopt or heavily discounted during Black Friday (the Friday after American Thanksgiving).
In Toronto, Canada, the adoption fee is waived for black cats during Black Friday. This one-day-only sale is part of a global campaign to end the stigma around black cats and encourage their adoption and integration in households around the world.
Black Cat Facts
Think you know everything about black cats? We bet you don’t! This National Black Cat Day, surprise your friends and family with some of these black cat trivia items and black cat facts.
Good Luck Charms
In some cultures, such as Japan, many people consider black cats to be a symbol of good luck. This is surprising, because many Western cultures think the opposite of black cats.
The Cat of the Sea
In England, black cats were brought on board ships and vessels to hunt mice and bring good luck for a safe return to port. The British Navy welcomed black cats onto their ships for many decades for this reason.
The blockbuster 2018 superhero film Black Panther caused a surge in the adoption rate for black cats. Since black cats resemble the on-screen hero, many cat lovers turned to black cats instead of their fairer-furred friends.