Black cats are nothing to fear

Illustration by Dominic Davies

From the star cat Salem of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” to Binx in “Hocus Pocus,” black cats have stolen the hearts of audiences far and wide.

These comedic and helpful kitties are portrayed in a lovable light, which is why it is so sad that many black cats in shelters are burdened by the centuries-old superstition of bad luck.

According to rescue group Kindness for Cats Inc., black cats are the least likely to be adopted and have the highest rate of euthanasia.

Fear of black cats is a superstition that has its roots in prehistoric times. With saber-toothed tigers roaming the Earth, mankind’s instinctual determination to stay alive led to a healthy dose of fear for felines.

Thousands of years later in the Middle Ages, the folklore surrounding black cats started to arise from a story that raced across Europe, according to Intown Animal Hospital, a veterinary organization that focuses on education and outreach for animal health.

The story goes that one day, a man and his son threw rocks at a black cat who happened to cross their path. The cat, injured from the cruel actions of the men, ran into the home of a woman, who many people suspected of practicing witchcraft.

The next day when the woman left her house bruised and limping, the townspeople leapt to the conclusion that the cat they had stoned the day before had magically transformed into the witch woman.

The story raged across the continent, and for centuries, black cats went hand in hand with witchcraft and bad luck.

In cartoons, spooky movies and decorations, a gnarly, old, mischievous witch is almost always depicted with a black cat on her broom or by her feet. The shadowy feline has been the star of spooky folklore and mysterious bedtime stories.

American comedian Groucho Marx even once said, “A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.” I’m inclined to agree that the notion of nefarious motives behind a cat walking is just laughable.

It’s October, so I think it’s time we all show a little love to our furry, beautiful and misunderstood feline friends.

With the Salem Witch Trials being a thing of the past, what I can’t understand is why witches’ dark-furred companions still face the oppression and stigma of an outdated superstition.

We’ve moved past the long-outdated tradition of burning women at the stake for being accused of witchcraft. There is no reason to abandon black cats to a life of loneliness with the ancient justification that they bring bad luck.

For me, ditching superstitions regarding black cats is a deeply personal issue.

When I was younger, I came home from school one day not knowing that my life would be changed forever.

I opened the front door, completely oblivious to the blessing that was about to crawl into my life. I vividly remember my dad stepping to the side and revealing a ball of fluffy, black fur. A little squeak of a meow met my ears, and my heart belonged to that kitten instantly.

He was tiny, all black and deserving of every ounce of love the world could pour onto him.

I named him Thor, completely overlooking a perfectly good opportunity to name a cat Loki.

In the unfairly short lifespan of a cat, Thor wiped away any lingering superstitions of bad luck I could have held onto.

He was my best friend — the biggest sweetheart — with an even greater personality. He greeted me with kisses, meows, cuddles and naps on sight and provided what can only be described as some of the happiest moments of my life.

If my black cat brought any luck into my life, it could only be classified as good.

I would take a Thor in my life over a million other animals. He was proof enough that the color of a cat’s fur does not betray the color they will add to your life.

Please pick up that black cat that has been overlooked in the corner of the shelter for years. Take a chance on the mysterious dark-furred kitten of the litter.

The superstitions of medieval people, who used to all bathe in the same bathwater and burn women to death, should be left far in the past where they belong.

The next stroke of good luck in your life could be in the form of a black kitty who has been misunderstood for far too long.