Appreciating Black Cats

 

Cat, Domestic, Black, Animal, Pet, Cute, Cat Eyes, Eyes

“This was a remarkably large and beautiful animal, entirely black, and sagacious to an astonishing degree.”
― Edgar Allan Poe, The Black Cat

Have you hugged your black cat today? If not, you should. Today, August 17, is National Black Cat Appreciation Day!

And why (you may ask) do we need an appreciation day for black cats?

Well, they deserve it!  Look at the bad rap they have gotten over the ages. Lots of superstition has grown around them and left a dent in the collective consciousness. Some people are afraid of them to this day. People may, for example, avoid getting in the way of a black cat, believing them to be bad luck if they cross your path.

Black cats, however, were not always considered bad. In fact, in some cultures they were quite revered.

Spirits of Ancient Egypt

The Ancient Egyptians loved and worshiped black cats. This love came from a belief that black cats were associated with the gods. The Egyptian goddess Bast was known as the “cat goddess” and used black cats as symbols to represent her. She was often depicted as a goddess with a human body and the head of a cat.

Early Egyptians also prized cats because of  their great ability to eliminate rats, mice, and other unhealthy pests.  Having a cat meant a cleaner house, cleaner food, and all around better health. The Egyptians took their love of black cats seriously.  Killing a black cat in Ancient Egypt was a capital offense and the murderer would be put to death! (Sounds like a good law to me. Maybe we should bring it back..)

Egyptians were obsessed with the afterlife, but they also believed their cats would come with them. When the Egyptian family cat died, he would be mummified and buried within the family tomb. The family would also take time to mourn his death.

Ah but this veneration of the black cat would not last! Egyptian civilization fell and so did the status of the beloved kitties. By the Middle Ages, our feline friends were acquiring their evil reputation. Many myths and legends contributed to this.

Black Magic Woman

One story that circulated around Europe told of a black cat running into the house of a witch. According to this legend, a father and son were walking across the road when they noticed the cat. Apparently, the two were not animal lovers, because they began pelting stones at the cat. Scared and defenseless, the kitty ran into a house that — according to the local gossips — was the home of a woman who did spell casting.

I’d say the cat was pretty smart, running away from two attackers.

According to the legend, the next day the father and son encountered the woman who lived in the house, and she was limping. Thus it was assumed that the witch had shape shifted to a black cat and received an injury from the rocks that were thrown at her.

The story spread and the long association of black cats and witchcraft became ingrained in folklore. Black cats were believed to be witches in disguise, witches’ pets, or even demons sent by witches to spy on humans.

This folklore actually took on a legal ramifications when the Catholic Church took issue with cats!

In 1233, Pope Gregory IX drew up a decree to condemn black cats as evil, satanic creatures. This led to a widespread extermination of black cats. They were killed in droves, drowned, burnt, fed poison and hung.

A Plague Upon Their Houses

Exterminating black cats was a really dumb thing to do, as later realized, because cats were a major force in killing off diseased rats that brought in the Black Plague. The great outbreak of the Black Death in the 14th century may have been in part due to this mass extermination of back cats. The Pope would have done much better to just leave the kitties to their work of killing vermin!

Because they were considered to be witches’ familiars, black cats  were often burned at the stake or hung, along with an accused witch. This practice remained in effect between the 13th-17th centuries when witch hunts were rampant.

Luckily, as witches, women and animals earned more rights, these superstitions faded as well. Most witchcraft laws were repealed by the 20th century, and animal rights groups have come to the rescue of cats.

To this day, black cats remain associated with Halloween, which can be a particular time of cruelty for them.  For this reason, many shelters prohibit the adoption of black cats in the month of October. (Please note, they are available all other months and make excellent pets!)

Lucky Charms

Black cats are known to be among the most affectionate and entertaining of felines. Besides that, there are plenty of good superstitions about black cats.

  • In England a black cat on a ship was considered lucky. Many sailors believed that a black cat could ensure a safe voyage and keep the ship from storms.

  • Pirates believed black cats could portend the future of their ship. For example, if the cat walked on and stayed on the ship, it meant good luck. But if the cat walked on and then off again, this was a bad sign that the ship would sink. (Hopefully the pirates baited the kitties with some tasty treats, like fresh fish, to make them stay!)

  • Wives of fishermen often kept black cats, as they were considered good luck charms to help the fishermen make a safe return home.
  • In Japan, black cats were symbols of financial fortune and prosperity.
  • In Scotland it was believed that women who owned black cats would have lots of male suitors.

So, you see, these clever felines really do deserve a day all to themselves, to help their human friends realize how great they are.

Jasper says, “Have a lovely Black Cat Appreciation Day! And be kind to a black cat.”

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Which Cat Breed is Your Spirit Animal?

 

Today, April 11, we celebrate National Pet Day!  Of course, every day is a great day to celebrate our furry, winged, webbed and scaled friends.  I love all animals! And, as you might know, I am partial to cats.  In honor of Pet Day, I thought it might be fun to offer this quiz.

Cats come in all shapes, sizes, temperments and personalities.  Which breed of cat would best represent your soul?  Is your spirit cat the slick, refined Siamese? The wild and untamed Bengal? The tail-less Manx, the hairless Peterbald, or perhaps the exotic Scottish Fold?

Take the quiz to find out! Let me know your results.

CLICK HERE to take the quiz.

 

My spirit cat is, apparently, the Maine Coon. Yeah, I can see that… totally.  Who wouldn’t want him for a soul-guide? 🙂

Main Coon: As a Maine Coon cat, you are the most noble and majestic of beasts. You know how to behave in front of people, you always know what to say and when to say it, and you can adapt yourself easily in new environments. You are polite, laid back, respect traditions, and love the people around you.

Happy National Pet’s Day! Always be kind to your pets 🙂

National Cat Day, Plus Horror

 

Of course, in my book, every day is National Cat Day, but here in the US, with just two days until Halloween, we are celebrating the OFFICIAL National Cat Day.

I love cats!

And I am not the only one. Cats are a big influence on horror. Here are a few horror writers and actors that have been guided and inspired by their feline friends:

  1. Neil Gaimon

“‘No,’ said the cat. ‘Now, you people have names. That’s because you don’t know who you are. We know who we are, so we don’t need names.'”

—Neil Gaiman, Coraline

2. Ray Bradbury

“That’s the great secret of creativity. You treat ideas like cats: you make them follow you.”

—Ray Bradbury

 

3. Sylvia Plath

“Like the cat, I have nine times to die.” — Sylvia Plath

(Although she is not officially a horror writer, Sylvia did have a horrific life, finally committing  suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning on February 11, 1963.)

4. Vincent Price

The face that launched a thousand haunted houses had a particular penchant for black cats. I’m with Vincent!

5. Anne Rice

The famous Mother of Vampires has been known to dote over her cat babies, Prince Oberon and Sugarplum. (Cool names! 🙂 )

6. Edgar Allan Poe

Poe at work under Catalina's eye (litho), Sheldon, Charles Mills (1866-1928) / Private Collection / © Look and Learn / The Bridgeman Art Library

“I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.”

—Edgar Allan Poe

Well Mr. Poe, I think you nailed it!

Jasper says:

“Have a fantastic cat day!”

Jasper at home

 

 

 

 

Appreciating Black Cats

 

Black-Cat-Day1

Today, August 17, is Black Cat Appreciation Day!

Black cats are often feared, mistrusted and misunderstood.  For centuries they have taken on a soiled reputation and are often thought to bring bad luck. This theory seems most prominent in the United States. Perhaps because of Puritanical roots, or perhaps because of the color black itself — these cats have long been associated with all kinds of willy-nilly superstition.

It is time to dispel these myths! In truth, black cats are loyal, affectionate, funny and fantastic pets.  Historically,  black cats have been celebrated and revered in many cultures. In fact, these ebony beauties were thought to bring good luck in many parts of Great Britain and Asia. Consider the following:

 Seafaring Cats:

In Yorkshire,  it was believed that a black cat kept in a fisherman’s home would ensure his ship’s safe return from sea.  It was also believed that a black cat aboard ship would bring a bounty of fish.  If the cat was banished from the ship, the supply of fish would run out as well.  Cat ahoy!

black cat boat 2

Doctor Cats:

In Cornwall,  it was believed that passing a black cat’s tail over one’s eyes would cure soreness and headaches.  In Wales, it was believed that  a black cat could ensure good health.  Modern day scientists have proven that  keeping a cat can actually lower one’s blood pressure, so there may be some truth to these theories.

black cat doctor

Wealth and Love:

“Whenever the cat of the house is black, the lasses of lovers will have no lack”  — Scottish Folk Saying

In Scotland, it was believed that a bride seeing a black cat on her wedding day would ensure a happy marriage.  Scottish folklore also states that a black cat found on your porch will bring financial prosperity. In Japan, a black cat was considered an all around good luck charm.

In Ancient Egypt, black cats were worshiped and revered because of their association with the goddess Bast.  Many pharaohs and queens owned black cats.

wiccan-woman-purple-eyes- pd

21st Century Cats

In modern times,  the engineer and professor of animal science Temple Grandin has spoken praises of black cats.  Grandin claims that there is a relationship between fur color and animals’ behavior.  Black cats, she says, are known to be more sociable and adaptable. A stray black cat is often more likely to make friends with strangers. In groups of cats, the black ones will often be more affectionate.

If a black cat has graced your life, you already know they are smart, with a great sense of humor!

black cat humor

Despite all of this, black cats are still the last to be adopted out of animal shelters. If you are in the market for a pet, please consider one of these dark lovelies.

Famous black cat owners include Frank Zappa, Marlon Brando, Joey Ramone, Morgan Freeman, Brigitte Bardot, Vincent Price and John Lennon.  (And maybe even smart guy Groucho Marx…)

“A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.” — Groucho Marx

Take time to appreciate a black cat today!

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Love for BenBen

 

benben2

A few days ago I came across an amazing story of a remarkable cat named BenBen. I immediately fell in love with this little kitty. Because so many of my followers are cat lovers, I thought I would share his story. (Be warned, you might cry. Tears of joy!)

In April, 2016, BenBen was brought to a shelter in Canada with multiple wounds – a broken spine, broken paws, several lacerations and a damaged ear – called a cauliflower ear.

benben

No one knew what had happened to him but veterinarians speculated he may have been attacked by a bigger animal.  He was given several surgeries, but with little hope for a complete recovery. Because of his severe injuries, veterinarians said he would never walk again.  If he remained alive he would need extreme care, and it was unlikely anyone would be prepared to help him.  He was in fact, eventually deemed ‘unadoptable’ and scheduled to be euthanized.

BenBen was depressed, but to make things worse, he has a condition of excess skin on his face, which gives him a permanent mournful expression. (Still, he is so cute!) BenBen was called the ‘saddest cat in the world’.

benben 2

As the days passed, BenBen grew more listless and sulky.  He refused to eat or drink. Shelter workers thought he was preparing to die. He was on death row and he knew there was no hope for him.

However, one kind-hearted soul met BenBen and could not allow his demise. Sandy Windover is an ER veterinarian who had assisted with BenBen’s care. She did not want to let him go, and just a few hours before BenBen’s scheduled euthanasia, arranged to adopt him.

BenBen went home to his ‘forever home’ with Sandy.  Even as a passenger riding in her car, he already began to perk up.

benben car

Once they were home, Sandy reports that he immediately (within one hour!) began to get better. He was moving, purring and snggling up to her.  Sandy got a special non-slip training mat to help assist BenBen’s recovery so he could strengthen his legs and learn to walk again.

Little by little, BenBen was rehabilitated. Now, not only can he walk, but he also plays and can fetch a toy! His appetite is great, and he is even known to sometimes snack  on pizza.

benben pizza

The resilience of animals never ceases to amaze me. The story of BenBen touched me so much because in part it reminds me of my own cat Jasper.

Jasper, like BenBen, had been taken into Chicago Animal Care & Control by a good Samaritan who found him in an alley. It was the dead of winter (and Chicago winters are brutal!) Jasper was half starved and suffering a respiratory infection that would have killed him if he had not gotten help. The veterinarians treated him, nursed him back to health, gave him all necessary shots, and within a few weeks Jasper was deemed ‘adoptable’.

Jasper adoption pic

However, no one wanted him. Jasper is a black cat and it is notoriously hard to get anyone to adopt black cats. Apparently, old superstitions die hard and many people still consider black cats to be ‘evil’ and bad luck.

black cat scary

Jasper had been sitting in his cage for six months when I walked in, specifically looking for a black cat. (My previous one had died a few weeks before.)  Needless to say, it was destiny!  The shelter workers were thrilled that I wanted him and confided to me that they would not have been able to keep him for much longer.

When I brought Jasper home his muscles were somewhat atrophied and he could not jump. I knew if I had to carry him around, or if he was less active than a normal cat, that would be okay.  However, within two days Jasper became Supercat, able to leap tall counters and kitchen sinks in a single bound!  He has a permanent soft voice due to his respiratory infection, and he rarely meows. We call him ‘the quiet man’ but in danger he has a mean hiss!

Although Jasper’s situation was in no way as severe as BenBen’s, both cats illustrate an important point – with a little love and care, animals can recover from horrendous situations and go on to lead happy, fantastic lives!

Jasper 1

If you are thinking of adding a pet to your family, please consider a shelter animal. They are very loving and loyal, easily trained and resilient. Having seen the worst and overcome great hardships, your shelter pet will be so happy to have you!

Many people were moved by BenBen’s story. Here is one video to celebrate his new life!

 

 

 

Black Cats

black cat luck 2

Black cats are beautiful and mysterious. Yet they are often hated! It is a shame that they are not recognized for the unique and loving creatures they are!

There are plenty of bad superstitions regarding black cats.  If one crosses your path it is bad luck, for example. But it’s not all bad.  Did you know that  historically black cats have been celebrated and revered in many cultures?  In certain parts of the world these ebony beauties were thought to be full of luck, love and supernatural magick.  Consider the following:

Scottish folklore states that a black cat found on your porch will bring financial prosperity.  It was also believed that a bride seeing a black cat on her wedding day would ensure a happy marriage.  In many Asian countries, particularly Japan, a black cat was considered an all around good luck charm.

In Ancient Egypt, the black cat was revered and represented by the goddess Bast.  Many pharaohs and queens owned black cats.

In Norse mythology, the goddess Freya is said to have often been accompanied by black cats, She also transformed herself into a black cat from time to time.

There may be something about the coat of a black cat that makes it more likely to have a good personality! Engineer and professor of animal science Temple Grandin claims that there is a relationship between fur color and animals’ behavior.  Black cats, she says, are known to be more sociable and therefore make great pets.

black cat 3

Aside from all this, black cats are beautiful!  Who could not love their playfulness, their loyalty and their mystery?  Yet due to their bad reputation and association with evil, black cats are reportedly the most overlooked animals in shelters.  If you are adopting a pet, please consider a black cat.  Guaranteed to bring health, prosperity, love and luck  🙂

“I am a swath of black velvet, a dark beauty, a companion, playmate, and a keeper of the castle. Do not overlook me.”

a Jasper 1