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Black Cat Syndrome: Facts vs. Myths

Ed Malaker

By Ed Malaker

black cat lying on the floor

Black Cat Syndrome refers to the superstition and belief that black cats are associated with bad luck, misfortune, or even evil omens, leading to various myths and misconceptions about them. If you have heard that black cats are bad luck, keep reading as we separate fact from fiction to help you be better informed.

 

Black Cat Facts

1. Black Cats Are Adopted Less Frequently From Shelters

One of the biggest issues facing black cats is that they may not be adopted as frequently as other colors due to people’s fears and superstitions. Some studies suggest that people have a negative opinion of black cats and feel that orange cats are the friendliest, making them the most likely to be adopted.

However, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found that people tend to choose their cats based on behavior more frequently than color.1 Another study showed that while they are the second most common color to enter shelters, black cats are the second most common color to leave, and they are behind the brown tabby in both cases.2

Still, many adoption agencies take steps to convince potential owners to spend more time with black cats to increase adoption rates and combat stereotypes.


2. Black Cats Are Hard to Photograph

The color black absorbs light, making it hard for the autoexposure on many automatic cameras to work properly, which means many photos of these cats are blurry compared to similar pictures of light-colored cats. Manually adjusting the focus, exposure, and lighting and choosing a good background will enable you to take stunning and clear photos of black cats.

a black cat staring
Image Credit: ClaudiaWollesen, Pixabay

3. Black Cats Make Wonderful Pets

No matter the breed, their fur color is the only thing different about a black cat compared to other cats. They are frequently playful and curious and form strong bonds with their owners.


4. Black Cats Are Better Off Indoors

Cats of any color can do a great deal of environmental damage if you let them go outside. They often kill smaller animals for fun and can dramatically reduce populations of birds, insects, and other animals. They are also in danger from larger predators, such as dogs and coyotes, in many areas. There can be toxins in the food that they eat, and flea and tick bites risk their health. Felines are also quite promiscuous, and letting your unspayed or unneutered cat go outside can lead to many more cats.

Many people have superstitions about black cats and might try to harm them. Therefore, it’s better to keep your cats indoors if possible.

black cat looking out window
Image credit: Sean Corcoran, Pixabay

Black Cat Myths

1. Black Cats Are in Danger on Halloween

With so many people being afraid of black cats, believing that they could be in danger on Halloween isn’t unreasonable. People often try to destroy the things that they fear, and Halloween is supposed to be when witchcraft and the supernatural are at their strongest. In fact, many people report that their local animal shelters refuse to allow people to adopt black cats on Halloween out of fear of bad intentions.

However, the Alley Cat Allies reports that no data supports claims that black cats are in any more danger than cats of other colors on Halloween or any other night and that there is no real need for shelters to prevent adoptions. Doing so will only make it harder for these animals to find homes.


2. Black Cats Are Bad Luck

The superstition that encountering a black cat, especially if one crosses your path, brings bad luck is rooted in cultural beliefs. This belief likely gained prominence due to the color’s associations with darkness, death, and the unknown during the Middle Ages. People often believed that if the cat walked into the room or lay on the bed of a sick person, they would die. There are those who still believe that if they cross your path, you are in for bad luck.

Of course, attributing misfortune to a harmless animal based on their color lacks scientific credibility. In reality, black cats have no control over human events or luck.

black cat with glowing eyes in the dark
Image Credit: Angeles Balaguer, Pixabay

3. Black Cats Are Witches

People often associated black cats with witches and black magic in medieval times. They believed that the witches turned into cats at night to do their satanic work. It even caused people to kill cats with their owners during the Salem witch trials of the late 1600s. However, there is no evidence that people can turn into cats!


4. Black Cats Are Good Luck

In south France, there is a myth that black cats are good luck, making them a popular gift for brides. However, there is no evidence that cats of any color affect luck, for better or worse.

Black cat getting chin scratched
Image Credit: Helena Lopes, Pexels

5. Black Cats Are More Aggressive

No scientific evidence suggests that black cats are more aggressive than cats of other colors. In fact, black cats tend to have a reputation for being exceptionally sweet and laidback. Genetics, socialization, and environment impact temperament more than coat color, anyway. Their upbringing, experiences, and individual personality traits create their personality, and attributing it to color only helps the myth continue and overlooks the complex nature of feline behavior.

 

Summary

Unfortunately, many myths about black cats still exist in modern times despite the lack of evidence. Other than coat color, there is no difference between black cats and other cats of different colors. They are not a witch in disguise, they are not aggressive, and they don’t cause bad luck, whether they enter your room at night or cross your path.

It’s true, though, that it’s harder for an amateur photographer to get a good picture of a black cat, especially if they’re still learning about lighting and contrast. Also, black cats tend to be adopted less frequently, especially with many shelters preventing their adoption around Halloween. One final fact is that black cats make wonderful pets, and like cats of any color, they are better off indoors, where they are safe.


Featured Image Credit: Netti_Nu_Nu, Pixabay

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