Saturday, September 5, 2015

Back in Black

Patterns of black and white captivated the runways during Fall/Winter 2015-2016 Fashion Week.  It appears these are the new “in” colors and combinations for the hottest fall/winter clothing lines.  If you walk through the cat adoption area at the Tehama County Animal Care Center it appears that most of the kitties present were bred specifically for this stunning fall/winter fashion season.  Unfortunately, when it comes to cat adoption, “black is not back”. 

Not long ago, PetFinder conducted a survey.  The results were that most pets had postings up for an average  period of 12.5 weeks.  However, less-adoptable pets’ postings, such as black, senior, and special needs pets, were up almost four times longer.  In addition, a 2013 study published by The Open Veterinary Science Journal concluded that black cats, regardless of age or sex, required the longest time to adopt.  Next-longest to adopt were primarily black cats, mixed with other colors.  It would seem even in this age of enlightenment that many myths and superstitions still surround these black beauties.  It is time to dispel the beliefs that black cats are the harbingers of evil or bring bad luck. 

While there are 22 cat breeds that can have solid black coats, the most common, and famous, of them is the Bombay. It is a shorthaired breed developed to resemble a miniature black panther.  They are known for their black coat, black nose, and yellow eyes.  Intelligent, outgoing, playful, attention seekers, they do well with children and other pets, including dogs.  Those acquainted with the movie “Hocus Pocus” and the cat Binx, and Homer, the fearless, blind feline of Gwen Cooper’s book “Homer’s Odyssey”, are already familiar with two fine examples of this breed.

In ancient Egypt, black cats were treated like royalty.  In fact, the penalty for killing a black cat was death.  If an Egyptian family’s cat died, all the inhabitants of the house shaved their eyebrows as a sign of deep mourning.  When everyone’s eyebrows grew back the period of mourning was over.  In addition, the deceased cat was embalmed and buried in a sacred vessel.  

In most parts of the world, the belief is that if a black cat walks towards you, good luck is definitely coming your way.  In the United Kingdom and Japan, if a black cat crosses your path it is considered fortuitous.  In Scotland, the belief is that if you find a black kitten sitting on your porch, riches and happiness will come to you.  In Germany, some believe that when a black cat crosses a person's path from left to right, the cat is granting a favorable period.  In Latvia, farmers will dance with joy upon finding a black kitty in their grain silo.  They believe the feline is the spirit of Rungis, a god of harvests.  One French myth states that if someone has a black cat with even one white hair, Lady Luck will smile upon him or her.

British and Irish sailors believed adopting a black cat for their ship ensured the safety of all the sailors on board.  Additionally, if the ship’s cat fell or was thrown overboard, it was thought that it would conjure up a terrible storm to sink the ship.  If, by some miracle, the ship survived, it would be cursed with nine years of bad luck.  Even with the risk of losing the cat, they were brought aboard due to the belief that their miraculous powers would protect the ship from dangerous weather. 

King Charles I of England owned a black cat.  Because he believed it to be lucky and did not wish to lose it, he had it guarded day and night.  Supposedly, the day the cat died, Charles proclaimed, "Alas, my luck has run out."  Coincidentally, the day after the cat died Oliver Cromwell's troops came and arrested the king for high treason.  It does appear that there was some truth in King Charles having better fortune while the cat lived.

Black cats are no different from any other cat.  If we choose to believe in the superstitious myths, then why not believe in the good ones and bring a black cat into your home (or on your ship)?  In deference to the fashion industry, remember their fur will not show on any perfect little black number you own.  Perhaps best of all, black cats never go out of style and go with EVERYTHING!  In fact if you truly want a little luck and be in style to boot, then black really is the way to go!  


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