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Everyone is familiar with black cats. They are one of the commonest cat colours, and almost every cat lover has owned one at some time. In fact, they are often considered to be ordinary. But this is not the case. There is more to a black cat than at first meets the eye, and here are some interesting facts about them which you may not be aware of.
A black cat is not a specific breed, but simply a colour. Black cats come in many breeds and all types, from long haired Persians to short haired British cats, and in all shapes and sizes too. And of course there are always plenty of black moggies needing homes. So if you want a black cat you should have plenty of choice.
There are a large number of breeds of cat which can be black, and several sources put the number of breeds at 22. Of course, this could change as new breeds of cat come along. Some of the best known of these are Persians, British Shorthairs, Maine Coons, and all the Rex breeds. But there are also many more.
There is just one breed of cat which is always black. This is the sleek, elegant Bombay, which was developed in the 1960s in the USA. The idea was to create a domestic cat which resembled a black panther, and this was done by crossing a black American Shorthair with a sable Burmese. However, some confusion later arose, as in the UK the name Bombay is also used for the black self colour within the Asian breed group!
Black cats can be either male or female, but for some reason more of them are male. This has been proved statistically, but there is no obvious genetic reason why it should be the case.
Many owners of black cats notice that their cat's fur fades in the sun, going brown or appearing to 'rust'. This is because the pigment which is responsible for the black fur is somewhat fragile and can break down under the influence of strong sunlight. It tends to happen more as cats age. So if you show your black cat, you might want to stop her sunbathing too often!
Although it is not always the case, yellow eyes are most usual in black cats. This is due to the same pigment which causes the black fur, and in he eyes it tends to make them an attractive dark yellow.
Many people have heard of the lucky black cat. But in some countries black cats are considered unlucky! They are thought to be lucky in most of Northern Europe and most of Asia, and particularly in France, Italy, and Japan. In England it is considered to be a good omen if a black cat crosses your path, and in some areas a wedding present of a black cat is thought to bring the bride good luck. In Scotland a black cat appearing on your doorstep is thought to bring prosperity. However, in much of Southern Europe a black cat crossing your path signifies bad luck, and in Germany it depends which way the cat is crossing your path – left to right is good, right to left bad. It is not clear where all these black cat beliefs originated.
Starting in the Middle Ages, black cats became associated in some people's minds with witchcraft and satanism. It was believed that a witch could transform herself into a black cat and back again at will. This is probably why black cats are still associated with events such as Halloween, and some people suggest that if you own a black cat, you make sure she is safely indoors on Halloween, not because she is a witch, but in case some superstitious folk think of harming her.
It is well known in all rescue organisations and adoption centres that black cats are harder to re-home than other colours. This may be due to a preference for more exotic and unusual colours or may be because of some of the bad luck superstitions which still surround black cats. It could also simply be due to the fact that black cats are harder to photograph well, so not as easy to publicise on social media. No-one really knows, but organisations such as Cats Protection find that black cats on average stay in their adoption centres much longer than cats of other colours. This is a pity as a black cat is just like any other cat, and can be just as lovable.
One little known fact about black cats is that they may be healthier than other cats. Fairly recent research shows that black fur has evolved separately in several species of wild cat, indicating that it seems to have a survival benefit. It has been postulated that black cats may be more resistant to some diseases, and this could be due to the mutations which originally caused the fur to become black. But the black coat provides excellent camouflage for the cat when hunting, so this could be the reason too. Either way, black cats do tend to be very healthy.
Black cats are just like any other cats, but there are some interesting facts which apply to this colour of cat. So if this has attracted you to the idea of owning a black cat, this could be a good thing, particularly if you are considering adopting a rescue cat. The rescue organisations will be delighted to help you find the perfect cat among their difficult-to-rehome black moggies, and you are sure to find the purrfect companion to take home.
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