There is no hard evidence to support the stories that a cat’s character can be determined by coat colour. Likewise there is nothing to support the idea that black cats are unlucky or, rarely, lucky. People like to stereotype animals and people of a certain colour. Is the “black cat syndrome” an extension of racism?
Is it good or clever to think that certain types of cat are lucky or unlucky? The answer depends on whether the question relates to the cat or the person. In the RSPCA rehoming center in Shropshire, England, in October 2011, 60% of the entire shelter population waiting for homes were black. I think that sums it up.
Although there are many pages on cat superstitions I haven’t seen anyone discuss the significance of it in relation to the cat except when discussing witchcraft and cat familiars. Obviously a belief in witchcraft was bad for the black cat. People still believe in witchcraft.
The number of examples of people believing cats are unlucky or lucky are too numerous to list. There is no logic to it. A black cat is normally considered unlucky but there are places where a black cat is considered lucky. Dan told me that the red tabby and white is considered lucky in Russia.
I’ll state right away that it is obviously not good for the cat or for that matter, us, to have superstitions about cats of a certain colour. This is because it affects negatively cats that have a coat colour which is considered unlucky and affects positively cats with a coat colour considered lucky (white and in Japan the tricolor – the calico bobtail). The is obviously unfair and plain wrong. It is unhelpful and frankly stupid to make decisions based on superstitions yet millions of people do just that.
I don’t mind so much if the superstitious decision maker is thinking about something other than animals but where animals are concerned decision making should be based on a sound thought process because the decision can affect the life of the animal.
Piles of posts on cat superstitions on PoC – I didn’t realise there were so many! – opens a new tab or window in your browser.
Following on from what Dan told me, here are some more superstitions regarding cats in Russia:
- When a cat is washing his face, you can expect guests. Comment: silly! I suppose the idea is that the cat is preparing himself for guests.
- It is bad luck if a black cat crosses your path. Comment: this is one of the universal cat superstitions.
It is by pure chance that a black cat is considered good luck under the culture of a specific region. Here, for example, is a comparison between regions:
|Country||Superstition regarding black cat||Source|
|Japan||Unlucky when crossing street.||japan-guide.com|
|Japan||Good luck||“Superstition Bash Black Cats”. Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. 2011|
|Yorkshire, UK||Unlucky if black cat crosses your path.||About.com|
|UK||Black cat walking towards you means good fortune….||RSPCA – UK|
|UK||If the cat turns away it means bad fortune||RSPCA – UK|
|UK||Black cat crossing your path from left to right means good luck.||RSPCA – UK|
|UK||Chase a black cat from your home and you’ll live in an unlucky home||RSPCA – UK|
|UK||Stroking a black cat brings health and wealth!||RSPCA – UK|
|Medieval Europe||Black cat with the tuxedo marking of a white patch fur on the chest, was called an “angels mark”. This saved the cat from being burnt alive.||domesticcatworld.com|
|North of England||Unmarried woman with a black cat would receive admirers.||domesticcatworld.com|
|South of France||Good luck if treated well.||kinrossfolds.com|
|France||Protected fishermen at sea if wife kept a black cat.||user.xmission.com|
|China||Bad luck – bringer of bad times. Hunger and poverty.||welovethisbook.com|
|Germany||Passing left to right means bad luck. The opposite direction means good luck||Wikipedia|
|USA||Bad luck if crosses your path||user.xmission.com|
As usual it is about education. More educated people are less likely to be superstitious and more likely to understand the relationship between cat coat color and personality.