Pawsitively Fascinating Facts About Black Cats

Black cats are well known for their association with Halloween, witchcraft, and bad luck. However, despite their reputation, they are unique felines that are thought to bring good luck in some countries, and they have a rich history dating all the way back to the Middle Ages. Of course, other than the color of their fur, black cats are really no different from any other feline; the difference is in how people think about them.

If you’re interested in learning more about these fabulous felines, read on for some fun facts!

Black Cat Facts

Black cats are quintessential Halloween icons—and the number one costume choice for both elementary-aged children and women in their freshman year of college, oddly enough—but do you know how they got such a spooky rap?

Beginning in the Middle Ages, black cats became associated with Satan, witches, and witchcraft; some people went so far as to believe that black cats were cohorts to witches or even witches who had taken on another form. This widespread superstition resulted in the horrific mass killing of black cats—and sometimes even their owners.

Aside from continuing to represent all things eerie, the fear of black cats still has some influence today. Many animal shelters won’t place black cats in homes during the month of October for fear of them being used sacrificially.

2. Black Cats Can Help Your Love Life

black cat

Forget the stereotypical depiction of the perpetually single cat lady. In some parts of the world, it’s believed that black cats can actually improve your love life.

In Japan, for example, single women who own black cats are believed to attract more suitors. In Great Britain’s English Midlands, a black cat is the ideal wedding gift; they’re believed to bring good luck and happiness to the bride.

3. Black Cats Have a Sailing History

black cat

Ship’s cats were once a common thing; historically, sailors brought cats aboard ships to control rodents that could destroy food stores or damage the ship itself. But British sailors believed a black cat would bring the ship good luck and ensure a safe return home.

It was a little more complicated for pirates, though. They believed a black cat walking toward you was bad luck, a black cat walking away from you was good luck, and if a cat boarded the ship and then jumped off, the ship was going to sink.

4. Black Cats Can Resist Disease

black cat

In the early 2000’s, researchers at the National Institutes of Health discovered that the genetic mutations that cause cats to have black coats may offer them some protection from diseases. In fact, the mutations affect the same genes that offer HIV resistance to some humans.

Since cats can experience many of the same health issues as we do—cancer, HIV, and cognitive dysfunction similar to Alzheimer’s, to name a few—they make perfect models for studying human disease. By figuring out how cats have evolved to resist diseases, researchers can, potentially, learn how to prevent disease in humans as well.

5. Black Cats Can Change Color

black cat looking out of a window

If your black cat loves to lounge in the sun—and what feline doesn’t?—the UV rays can break down the black pigment in the cat’s fur, changing it to a rusty color. The affected fur will remain discolored, but once shed, will be replaced by fresh black fur once again.

6. In Some Places, Black Cats Mean Good Luck

Black cat walking in grass with tail up and exposed back legs closeup

While black cats are mostly associated with bad luck in North America, that’s not the case around the world. In Scotland, tradition holds that a black cat on the doorstep means money is on the way. The French have a similar association between black cats and financial riches. In Germany, a black cat crossing your path means good luck, not bad, is on the way.