Today is Black Cat Appreciation Day. Although we’ve been unable to track down the origin of this holiday, we’ve found that the ASPCA celebrates the occasion each year by discounting its adoption fees for black cats and kittens, which it states are less likely to be adopted because of superstition.
Black Cats weren’t always considered bad luck. In ancient Egypt, cats were so highly regarded that killing one was a crime. Their bad reputation began during Europe’s Middle Ages when stray cats became associated with the spinsters who fed them.
Unmarried women were ostracized; living without a man was considered unnatural. Ignorance and fear of female sexuality fueled accusations of witchcraft and the cats those women showed kindness to were labeled as familiars, demons who did their bidding.
Folklore in the 16th century made matters worse when a popular tale told of a witch shapeshifting into a black cat. The hysteria reached its nadir one hundred years later during the Salem witch trials in colonial Massachusetts. Some would say that the fear of feminine power continues to exert its corrosive influence around the globe.
So give your cat a big hug and a handful of treats, bring a rescue into your home or just show kindness to your neighbor. (That last one we should be doing all year.) Have a happy Black Cat Appreciation Day!