There is an enormous amount of myth and folklore surrounding black cats. In medieval times it was commonly believed that if you deliberately killed a black cat you would forfeit your soul to the devil; while in Scandinavia the Norse goddess of love and fertility Freya travelled in a chariot pulled by two black cats. Let’s hope she was a wee slip of a thing or they were huge black panthers! In the UK some people believe it is good luck when a black cat crosses your path but in the US it is considered bad luck. In Japan a single lady owning a black cat is said to have an increased number of suitors and some black cats are enshrined in maritime history, like Tiddles who travelled thousands of miles on British Navy vessels keeping them free of mice. Fancy being named Tiddles, it’s a little embarrassing for a tough guy! None of it makes sense to me and its superstitious hooey, as we all know that colour is only fur deep. An excessive amount of melanin is what causes fur to be black; it’s the opposite of albinism and gives our eyes that golden hue. Black fur turns reddish brown with exposure to the sun and goes grey with age like humans do. My black cat friend Tiffin is about to turn 9 and wasn’t happy when I mentioned she was getting a white beard!
My message to you at this time is that black cats are in danger and should be kept indoors on Halloween night or weekend and the days leading up to it because we are targets for abuse by thoughtless individuals who associate us with witchcraft. In fact throughout the Middle Ages and the so-called Age of Enlightenment black cats were actively persecuted as part of the measures taken by Christian cultures to eliminate any links to paganism. All this because our coats are the colour of night and night was associated with evil doings. This Halloween night make your celebrations fun and light-hearted and be sure to dress up in comical costumes and eat ghoulish treats. I don’t mind wearing a scarf or a funny hat for a few minutes to entertain John but many other cats would find it stressful. The coming and going of trick-or-treaters can make it easy for cats and kittens to slip out through the door especially if they’re trying to escape the noise and naked flames on candles could be a hazard. Now I’ve done my bit for black cat-kind, take care and have fun and enjoy the photos of all these lovely black cats. Can you pick out which ones are me?
John went up to Felbridge Showground in East Grinstead the other day for a commercial shoot of some brand new Equihunter horse boxes. Look how shiny! These luxury horseboxes are nothing short of the best in the field of horseboxes, and I should know having been to Felbridge to test them out. This involved some strenuous activities such as sitting and laying for prolonged periods in different positions in the splendid lounge/kitchenette area behind the driving cabin, as well as interviewing the horses for their opinions on comfort and safety levels. I was tempted to go back to Felbridge to see my horsey friend who nudged me with his soft bristly nose on my last visit, but I had other plans.
While John was in Felbridge earning his pennies, I went to a music shop to spend them! I’ve always had a musical ear which I’m sure John will confirm as he has heard me meow many a song while listening to the Saga-louts perform their rockin’ tunes. So he offered to buy me a special item for my new hobby, a keyboard which I can learn to play and hopefully one day entertain him with in appreciation of the gift. I came home with a great Roland V-Combo which has more buttons on it than the Kennedy Space Centre! So watch this space because all I need is a few weeks to practice my arpeggios and then I’ll learn to play a proper song. It will be so much fun. I remember playing as a little kitten, leaping across the keys from middle C, hitting a G major scale and finishing with a basic blues. So I’m hoping that this practice in my early years will help me have another go this time round. Wish me luck! I’ll keep you posted.
Just like a finely tuned luxury sports car, I need an inspection and regular maintenance to keep my body in tip-top condition. So the other day when John said it was time for my annual check-ups and vaccinations, I hopped happily into my basket for the trip. Unlike the average cat, I don’t mind travelling in my box (providing my blanket is in there) and watching the world go by from the back seat of a family saloon. I’m even partial to bit of the old Bublé serenading on the radio while John warbles merrily in the background.
We arrived on time (I do like to be punctual) and sat in the waiting room which I had to share with a hamster and a pooch. The sandy-brown hamster’s nose wriggled as I went past, narrowing its beady eyes and huffing disapprovingly at me. Honestly, the assumptions people make, just because I have claws and a feline instinct! I happen to like all furry things with whiskers, so I gave it one of my ‘Excuse me but I have evolved you know’ looks and sniggered when his owner stood up after the vet called out “Munchkin”. I suppose you can’t really call a small fuzzy nearsighted rodent “Rambo”!
The pooch in the room looked like a Samoyed or Samoyed-cross, a playful and gentle breed of dog that I know about because one of my buddies from the fostering pen was adopted by a lady who had a white fluffy one. I’ve heard some stories about irresponsible dog-owners who encourage their canines to chase cats so I tend to be quite wary of them, plus I once met a mixed breed hound who bothered me. But I must admit this guy seemed good natured and my mate Jasper who was re-homed to the house with a Samoyed reckons it takes no notice of him and they’re gradually becoming pals. My personal opinion is that pets learn their manners from their owners, which is why being a conscientious owner is so important, particularly when an animal is young and learning all its behaviours. Goodness knows where I get my suave and unconventional personality traits from!
You’ll be pleased to hear that my experience with the vet went reasonably well, considering I was jabbed, squeezed and poked in all sorts of areas! But I know it’s for my own good and it was all forgotten when she started cooing over my fetching facial features and admiring my oh-so-silky black coat. All cats (and dogs for that matter) benefit from regular yearly exams to check for gum disease, bladder stones, signs of chronic illness like diabetes or more life-threatening conditions. I’m happy to report that I wasn’t diagnosed with anything horrible, although John got a disparaging look from the vet about my waist-line! What can I say, nobody’s perfect!!
Thursday 31st October is National Black Cat Day. It’s a tribute to black domestic cats and perhaps some of my wild feline cousins too. It’s intended to help dispel age-old superstitions about black cats that have led to people being less inclined to take one of these dark creatures home. There are hundreds of homeless black cats in Cat Protection’s care and an apparent reluctance to adopt them. This has led the charity to organise an annual event to raise awareness of their plight. So if you want to celebrate black and black-and-white cats, you can download a free black cat pack which includes posters and masks and fun ideas.
Here are a few fascinating facts to peak your interest! Black fur is a result of melanism which is the development of the dark coloured pigment called melanin in the skin and is the opposite of albinism. It is linked to the process of adaptation in the animal kingdom because it allows the animal to be better camouflaged. Dark individuals are therefore better adapted to survive and reproduce in their environments. I can vouch for that! My sleek dark coat allows me to crouch in corners hidden from view while I practice my stalking techniques on my toy mouse and John’s feet.
Melanism is most prevalent in male cats and is seen in 11 of the 36 wild cat species. It produces yellow irises, as demonstrated by my sparkling golden eyes, and can make some species less noticeable to predators, while other species such as the majestic black jaguars or leopards use it to their advantage during night hunting. There is also evidence to show that having a black coat is associated with resistance to some viral infections.
So there are lots of reasons to appreciate black cats. Here are a few photos of some of my black and black-and-white cat friends and cousins. They come in all shapes and sizes, and all characters and temperaments, from amicable and affectionate to petulant and proud. You will also see a few exclusive images of me, looking rather buff, showing off my glossy and gleaming silky black coat. Go on, give black cats the love!