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ShebaIt seems black cats are the ones left behind when it comes to adopting a furry friend.  Even today, as stupid as it sounds, these dusky beauties are associated with superstition, black magic and pagan celebrations. It probably stems from the Middle Ages when they were labelled agents of the Devil and the familiars of witches.  From the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries, women and cats were persecuted for their so-called involvement in witchcraft.English folklore held that witches could shape shift into black cats and roam the nights, spying on people and wreaking havoc.A solitary female, who believed in natural remedies and whose sole companion was an amiable coal black puss, would be denounced by suspicious neighbours and hauled before a court. There are even stories of the felines being put on trial, too.Feline phobia reigned.

Even today, the association between witches and black cats can be seen at Halloween in many of the decorations sold in shops everywhere.

And yet, belief in their supernatural powers was often considered positively. Sailors in search of a ‘ship’s cat’ would opt for a black one to bring them good luck. Going back 3000 years to Egyptian times, black cats were held in high esteem. To harm one was considered a capital crime. Here in the UK, if a black cat walks towards you, she is bringing you good fortune. If she walks away, she takes that good fortune away with her.         

For me they are black beauties, affectionate, good natured and playful, if my dear Sheba is anything to go by.  There are many reasons why you should go for black. Here are some of them:It’s like having a miniature panther at home. In Scotland, they hold the belief that having one at home brings good luck and if we find a black cat in our doorway, it is a sign of prosperity. In Italy, if a cat sneezes close by is considered good luck.Japanese think they bring positive things and they even recommend them to young women to find a partner.

But perhaps things have not changed to such a large degree when I think of my cat lady friend, Maria, whose neighbours spited her in every way they could and gossiped about her strangeness just because of her love of cats.

On the subject of the sometimes-mocked women who care for a number of cats, it certainly seems true there is a strong bond between the two. We go back a long way and have a lot in common, but perhaps the biggest thing we share is our history of being persecuted by the Church. After all we’ve been through, we have every reason to stick by each other.

So let’s put an end to mistaken traditions and beliefs that do nothing but fuel the flames and leave many a black feline abandoned in a shelter. Put a black cat in your life and luck will be on your side for sure. I dare you.

Jennifer Pulling runs Catsnip for the neutering and treatment of feral cats in Sicily. She is the author of The Great Sicilian Cat Rescue (John Blake)  

Jennifer has a website on writing:

http://www.jenniferpulling.co.uk

A Cats Purr

"Cats make one of the most satisfying sounds in the world: they purr ...

A purring cat is a form of high praise, like a gold star on a test paper. It is reinforcement of something we would all like to believe about ourselves - that we are nice."

Roger A Caras