A Halloween Message from Shad

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?

Shad gives black cats the love

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.

http://www.cats.org.uk/black-cats

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!