Black cats have a spooky reputation (and if you’re looking for a witchy companion, we’re not judging), but these not-so-scary cats have a rich history. Here are some of our favorite black cat facts!
#1: There are 22 Breeds of Black Cat
There isn’t just one type of black cat! The Cat Fanciers’ Association recognizes 22 different breeds that can have a solid black coat. They range in appearance from the majestic Norwegian Forest cat to the charming Japanese Bobtail. Most of these breeds can have other fur colors—the Bombay is the only breed which always has a pure black coat.
The Bombay breed was born in the 1950s when cat lover Nikki Horner crossed an American Shorthair with a Sable Burmese in an effort to create a house cat that looked like a miniature panther. With that, a new breed and a whole new legion of black felines entered the history books!
#2: A Black Cat’s Genes Are Powerful!
When you look at feline genetics, black is the most dominant fur color. That means if a pair of mating cats have even one recessive gene for black fur between them, they’re destined to have babies with black fur. That’s why it’s the most common fur color in cats!
Thankfully all those black coats come with some powerful benefits. The black color of their fur helps cats camouflage when hunting at night and makes them even better at soaking up warmth when they bask in the sun. Even wilder, the genes for black fur seem to come with genetic resistance to a whole host of diseases!
#3: Black Cats Are More Likely to Have Yellow Eyes
The same genes that give black cats all the melanin in their fur also gives their eyes their signature amber hue. While yellow eyes are by far the most common for black kitties, there are exceptions to the rule! Some cat breeds which are more likely to have lighter fur may also have lighter eyes, producing unusual black cats with green or even blue eyes.
#4: Black Cats’ Fur Can Change Color
If your black kitty sunbathes like it’s an Olympic sport, you might actually see their fur color change over time! Although they might look solid black, some black cats are hiding a black-on-black tabby coat. Sunshine breaks down the pigment in their fur, revealing rusty orange tabby stripes.
You might also see senior black cats get distinguished highlights of white or gray in their fur as they age—a true badge of honor!
#5: Their Unlucky Reputation Comes From the Middle Ages
These cats weren’t always considered bad luck! On the contrary, many cultures thought they were powerful, including the ancient Egyptians who adored them as pets and gods.
In ancient Greece, Hecate was known as the goddess of witchcraft (and many other things). She was served by a black cat in some myths—the OG witch’s familiar. The association between witches and black cats was in full swing by 1233 C.E. when Pope Gregory IX declared that black cats were “satanic” and could even be demons in disguise. (His loss, obviously.)
#6: Many Cultures Believe Black Cats Are Lucky
A large part of the world has thankfully moved past the superstitions of the past and instead believe that black cats bring good luck! Germany, Scotland, and France all regard them as omens of good fortune. British sailors used to bring black cats along on their voyages to ensure a safe return home (and to catch the mice).
They’re also said to make people lucky in love. In parts of England, a black cat is a traditional wedding gift said to bring happiness and good luck to the bride. In Japan, many single women adopt black cats because they’re said to bring love and good suitors to their door! Consider hitting the animal shelters early so you’re ready for next Valentine’s Day…
Today, these cats are getting more love than ever before. They have two holidays all their own: National Black Cat Appreciation Day on August 17th and National Black Cat Day on October 27th. They have starring roles in TV and movies and a LOT of merch made for them every Halloween.
Best of all, they add a wealth of late-night cuddle sessions and wild games of chase-the-string to our lives. In honor of all the wonderful black kitties out there, go ahead and scoop a little extra dinner into your black cat’s bowl tonight—we won’t judge.