What is it?
National Black Cat Appreciation Day (August 17) is a holiday designed to celebrate the underappreciated black cat population in the U.S. The holiday was started by Wayne Morris in honor of his sister June and her black cat Sinbad.
Historically, black cats have carried many negative connotations due to myths and legends originating in the Middle Ages. Since the beginning of the holiday, people have sought to redeem the image associated with black cats, and appreciate them for the splendid and magnificent creatures they are. Don’t confuse this holiday with National Black Cat Day in October!
Black cats are one of the most overlooked animals in shelters, and one of the least adopted pet breeds– statistics that Black Cat Appreciation Day seeks to change. The holiday spreads awareness and encourages people to look beyond the stereotypes and instead accept black cats for the beautiful creatures they are.
Why Black Cats Are Overlooked
There are many reasons black cats are overlooked, beginning with their history rooted in myths and legends, and spanning to today’s modern world of social media and photography.
Black cats are more difficult to photograph, making them an unpopular choice for influencers and Instagrammers. This shouldn’t stop you from getting a black cat, though– because they’re a challenge to photograph, the reward is even greater. Additionally, once a photographer figures out how to photograph black cats well, the results are simply stunning.
History of Black Cats
As aforementioned, negative connotations about black cats began with the superstitions of the Middle Ages. People during this time– primarily the Catholic Church– believed “witches” to possess the ability to shapeshift into black cats. Since then, the connotation has stuck, especially during the Halloween-centered month of October, hence why October is the official Black Cat Awareness Month.
Before the rise of Christianity, cats in general carried the association of the moon, along with many goddesses. Goddesses such as Ceridwen (Celtic) and Freya (Norse) were attended to by white cats. Then, with Christianity’s increasing popularity, white cat imagery converted to black as a symbol of the sinful pagan ideas of gods and goddesses. Quite unfortunately, this shift in imagery drove extremist religious heads to drastic measures. “Witches” were not the only ones persecuted– cats, primarily black, were also treated cruelly and unjustly. Unspeakable horrors came to these poor creatures.
In many other cultures, however, black cats are celebrated and seen as a symbol of luck or prosperity. Moving forward, we should look to these cultures and the ways in which they celebrate black cats as a model for how we should reshape culture to appreciate them.
What can you do?
If you have a black cat, the easiest and most obvious thing to do to celebrate is to spoil your cat! Show them extra love and affection; perhaps even buy them a new toy or treat. If you don’t have a black cat, you could adopt one! However, if you’re not in a place to adopt, the best thing you can do is spread awareness about the holiday via social media. You can even share this blog post to your friends and followers!
Writing Specialist at Lilly Brush Co.