Today, August 17, is Black Cat Appreciation Day. Woo hoo, let those of us with black cats celebrate! Actually, those of us who don’t have black cats can celebrate also, because, well, why not?
In the U.S., Black Cat Appreciation Day was launched to demonstrate that it is possible for a black cat to be a good companion, an admirable animal pal. The day was also established to help raise awareness about the plight of black cats.
Why Raise Awareness For Black Cats?
With a quick perusal at Days of the Year I discovered there are other days of cat celebration:
- Hug Your Cat Day – June 4
- International Cat Day – August 8
- Feral Cat Day – Oct 16
- Cat Herder’s Day – December 15
But I couldn’t find a celebration for any other cat color – no White Cat Day or a Calico Cat Day listed.
So what did black cats do to deserve this day?
Unfortunately, it has more to do with protecting the cats from unenlightened, uneducated and fearful humans than celebrating these grandiose and charming beings for themselves.
Cats, including black cats, had a pretty good life throughout history until the Middle Ages. In Egypt they were treated as goddesses and they lived the life of luxury in Rome. By 1233, their luck had run out.
Pope Gregory IX, the same Pope who instigated the Papal Inquisition, issued a papal bull in 1233 saying that Satan could take the form of a cat, toad or a very hairy man so he could participate in orgies and heretical rituals. With this bull, the Pope put the fear of God or the Devil (depending on what perspective you prefer) into the people. Because people feared Satan entering their homes through cats and the inherent accusations of witchcraft, folks began killing cats.
(I have not been able to find the basis for why the Pope declared the Devil would take the form of a cat. If anyone knows, please leave a comment, thanks.)
These superstitions still linger, associating black cats with bad luck, and compelling some, if not all, humane societies and shelters to prohibit the adopting of black cats at Halloween time because of the possibilities of torture and death. I experienced this when I adopted my black cat Raven. Even though I had previously adopted 3 other animals from the same shelter and the staff knew me personally, I had to wait until the beginning of November to adopt Rave.
Because of these either conscious or unconscious superstitions and prejudices on the part of people, black cats are often not adopted but left in shelters. The way our society is structured now, this, of course, can mean a death sentence for an innocent being.
Pardon My Naiveté, But……
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a good celebration, and how wonderful to celebrate other sentient souls! BTW, if you would like to share a pic of your beautiful black cat, you can do so on my Facebook page.
It seems to me as if we need more than a yearly Black Cat Appreciation Day. What about the other 364 days of the year?
- People enrolled their kids in programs that promote humane education? More than just how to be safe around cats and how to safely handle them, but also helped children develop empathy, compassion and respect for others, regardless of species
- People who are afraid of cats or don’t understand them took the time, and yes, the effort, to educate themselves about these beautiful creatures?
- People looked at commonalities instead of differences? For instance “This black cat gets hungry, just as I do” or “This black cat can feel pain, just as I do”
It’s a step at a time that we break down these unfounded prejudices and superstitions. Today we celebrate Black Cat Appreciation Day. What do we do tomorrow, August 18? Remember, We All Do Better When ALL Creatures Do Better.
Here’s To New Beginnings,