Op-Ed: Where Do Black Cats Get Their Bad Reputation?

It’s National Cat Day, a great time to explore why black cats are a sign of bad lack and black magic, especially around Halloween.

Humans’ general suspicions of cats may have stemmed from myths like the Greek myth of Galathia, who was turned into a black cat by the goddess Hera; Galatia went on to serve Hecate, the goddess of black magic. Thus, the black cat became the witch’s sidekick.  

From that point onward, as the story goes, black cats were grouped along with black magic. This relationship was magnified during the early modern period, when practicing black magic, an evil art, was punishable by death.

Black cats have become a stigma related to unlocking evil. This aversion is referred to as Black Cat Syndrome.

People generally don’t like to own black cats, or even see them, and they are often the target of physical danger. As more families stop adopting black cats, more are euthanized in shelters.

According to the National Library of Medicine, in fact, 74 percent of black cats are euthanized in shelters, compared to 63 percent of white cats. Some shelters don’t even take black cats around Halloween, people temporarily adopt them before returning them after the holiday.

Tatyana Souza P’26 says she had two black cats, now deceased, who were rescues.

“One from a shelter and one who was abandoned in a dumpster,” Souza said. 

Others don’t adopt black cats because they don’t photograph well. This is problematic, as people try to go Internet viral with cute cat photos. According to popular belief, black cats are less likely to become famous. 

Most shelters will tell you black cats are the last to get adopted if they get adopted at all—all because of silly superstitions based on false myths from centuries ago.  

“Like all cats, black cats are loving like all other cats,” Souza said. “My two cats were both were smart, playful, and loving beings.”   

If you or a friend are considering adopting a cat, make sure to consider all cats, regardless of color. Instead, take into consideration personality and playfulness.

If you are a black cat owner, ensure you keep your cat safe during during Halloween season.