Today (17th August) is Black Cat Appreciation Day. Black cats are underappreciated – they are less likely than cats of other colours to be adopted from American shelters.
In medieval Europe, cats, and especially black cats, became associated with evil and witchcraft, and many were killed as a result. These beliefs spread to North America. This is probably the reason they are now seen as bad luck in America and most of Europe, which is a possible explanation for their poor adoption chances. In Britain, black cats are traditionally seen as good luck, but in Britain too they are unpopular with adopters. Black cats are also seen as good luck in Japan.
A few months ago my family adopted a black cat who I’ll refer to as D. His fur is beautiful and fascinating to me. In low light it looks pure black and shines silver, but in the sunlight parts of it light up golden brown. And sometimes you can see faint tabby stripes along his sides. His fur isn’t plain once you get to know it.
[Image description: The head and shoulders of D, a black cat with yellow eyes, seen from the side. He is gazing upwards and is lit by dappled sunlight. His fur shines with a mixture of silver and gold, with stripes visible around his neck. He’s wearing a silver collar.]
It’s hard to see where D is in the dark. This is the only disadvantage of his colour, and he wears a reflective collar with a bell, which helps a bit. In photos of him, pale things in the background tend to be overexposed, but I see this as a challenge to my photography skills rather than a problem. I think I’ve taken lots of nice photos of him with my compact digital camera.
D is one of the gentlest cats I’ve ever met. I used to think having a cat meant getting scratched occasionally, but he hasn’t scratched me once. I even let him use my hands as pretend prey, because he’s gentle when he catches and bites them. He’s very sweet towards me. When I open my bedroom door each morning he’s usually there waiting for me, and he gives my hands a good rub. When I touch him while he’s washing he’ll give my hand a little lick too.
He’s also incredibly cooperative for a cat. When we put flea treatment on him he just sits there and puts up with it. He loves being outside, but when it’s time to come inside in the evening he rarely protests.
But he’s an explorer too. He’s always sniffing things outside, and prowling around his territory, and sticking his head into dusty corners of the house. He loves to climb the apple tree in the garden. He was wobbly at first but now he’s confident and agile up there and has been exploring higher up in the branches. But he still gets into precarious-looking situations sometimes. (Luckily the tree’s not too high – he’s fallen from it before and landed on his paws with no problem and we could rescue him with a stepladder if he got stuck.)
[Image description: D in a tree in summer. Most of his body is supported by various small branches and one front leg is reaching towards a thicker, almost-vertical branch. His expression is alert and slightly worried.]
I don’t believe the colour of his fur affects anything other than his appearance and his visibility. But things have got better for me since we adopted D. Having him around helped with the sadness and loneliness I felt after our previous cat died. Stroking him or playing with him cheers me up when my mood is low. I feel very lucky that we were looking for a cat at the same time as he was looking for a home, and I’m really glad we weren’t put off by his blackness.