Like people, domestic cats are judged by their colour

Black cats are bad luck

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

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:

CountrySuperstition regarding black catSource
JapanUnlucky when crossing
JapanGood luck“Superstition Bash Black Cats”. Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. 2011
UKGood luck
Yorkshire, UKUnlucky if black cat crosses your path.
UKBlack cat walking towards you means good fortune….RSPCA – UK
UKIf the cat turns away it means bad fortuneRSPCA – UK
UKBlack cat crossing your path from left to right means good luck.RSPCA – UK
UKChase a black cat from your home and you’ll live in an unlucky homeRSPCA – UK
UKStroking a black cat brings health and wealth!RSPCA – UK
Medieval EuropeBlack 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
North of EnglandUnmarried woman with a black cat would receive admirers.
South of FranceGood luck if treated well.
FranceProtected fishermen at sea if wife kept a black
ChinaBad luck – bringer of bad times. Hunger and
SpainBad luck
GermanyPassing left to right means bad luck. The opposite direction means good luck Wikipedia
USABad luck if crosses your
RussiaBad luckWikipedia

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.

4 thoughts on “Like people, domestic cats are judged by their colour”

  1. Talking about superstition, we Indians are one of the most superstitious people in the World, irrespective of the different communities, religions and languages.Recently a prominent Rationalist Dr Narendra.Dhabholkar was murdered for his views on superstition practices in India.Read :- are very superstitious about cats and most of the common superstitious beliefs associated with cats in the Western World also exist in the Eastern World in India.Unlike dogs, cats are not a favourite as pets although in recent years they are gaining in popularity as they are easier than dogs to maintain in small confined flats.The very fact that there was not a single “CAT CLUB” in India until a year ago speaks volumes of the popularity of cats as pets in India.I have personally done my level best in creating an awareness of cats as pets and also for starting a “Cat Club” in India.Superstition is officially non-existant as a legislation but is very common in all walks of society in India including animals and pets.

  2. Im suprised no mention of Italy. It’s still pretty backwards in many places and you still find villages with old people and even younger ones who believe in all kinds of nonsense – I’m sure they have an angle on black cats, they must do. If it’s a bad view I have no doubt they kill and poison them if they feel the need. Many parts of Italy don’t exist in the modern world even though they seem to all have giant flat screen TVs and be the most overweight country in Europe. The poorer the village the bigger the TVs. I travelled through Calabria and I have never seen such big TVs. I was travelling with a girl and we had to tell them all we were married – it was that bad.

    Back on track: the ladies tend to wear black when their husbands die – for the rest of their lives – so black is obviously associated actively with death. I had a girlfriend once who’s granny was wearing black every day I saw her. That was in Canada. Often these old European cultures really flourish in the ‘new world’ – you have Quebec which is more French than France – in Toronto you had little Italy and little Portugal which are both so far up their own cultural a**h*l*s that in desperately trying to replicate their culture elsewhere, like Quebec, they have ended up more backwards than where they came from. That’s the trouble with the new world. When you ask somebody where they are from they start telling you where their grandparents are from. Nobody just says where they live and where they were born. Anyway, without going into the negative picture of multiculturalism as being a total failure in a necessarily cosmopolitan world I guess my point is that there are lots of freaky people with atittudes and opinions about things like black cats, even in places like the 3rd biggest city in north America, which is basically just a giant village.

  3. I wonder if one day there will be a law against cat colour prejudice like there is for people now?
    A person can be arrested for racial prejudice of another person who is a different colour, so why not for prejudice against black cats?
    Only joking ……or am I?
    😉 lol

    • lol – well it’s the same thing. But the cat’s would have to be the ones being racist I guess.

      Interestingly enough it seems to me that cats have absolutely no prejudice based on colour! Makes humans look like a bunch of boring idiots. Cats seem to have more important things to worry about than what colour the new cat in town is.


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