5 Interesting Facts About Black Cats

Black cat sitting on a gray couch looking away

Black cats have long been associated with Halloween, witchcraft, and good fortune. Despite their bad notoriety, they are one-of-a-kind felines who are said to bring good luck in several places and have a long history dating back to the Middle Ages.

If you're interested in learning more about these historical icons—read on for some fun facts!

  • 01 of 05

    The Background of Black Cats and Witches

    Fascinating Facts About Black Cats

    Black cats are iconic Halloween icons—and, strangely enough, the number one costume option for both elementary-aged children and women in their freshman year of college—but do you know why they have such a frightening reputation?

    Beginning in the Middle Ages, black cats were connected with Satan, witches, and witchcraft; some people even believed that black cats were witches' companions or even witches in disguise. This prevalent belief culminated in the heinous mass murder of black cats—and their owners in certain cases.

    Apart from continuing to symbolize all things scary, the dread of black cats continues to have some effect today. For fear of being used as a sacrifice, many animal shelters will not place black cats in homes during the month of October.

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  • 02 of 05

    Black Cats Can Help Your Love Life


    Forget the stereotypical depiction of the perpetually single cat lady. In some parts of the world, it’s believed that black cats can actually improve your love life.

    Single ladies with black cats, for example, are said to attract more suitors in Japan. A black cat is the best wedding present in Great Britain's English Midlands; they're said to offer the bride good luck and happiness.

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  • 03 of 05

    Black Cats Can Bring You Luck


    Not only may black cats boost your love life, but they can also increase your luck and wealth. Cats were often taken onboard ships to kill mice—and, presumably, for companionship—but British sailors believed that bringing a black cat aboard would bring the ship good luck and assure a safe return home.

    However, pirates had it a little more difficult. They thought a black cat strolling toward you was terrible luck, a black cat walking away from you was good luck, and if a cat boarded the ship and then leapt off was bad luck.

    For those of us who aren't in the marine industry, a black cat on your doorstep means wealth (a Scottish notion), and a black cat crossing your path means good luck (in England and Ireland).

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  • 04 of 05

    Black Cats Can Resist Disease


    The genetic abnormalities that allow cats to have black coats may provide some illness protection, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health. The mutations impact the same genes that provide human HIV resistance.

    Cats are ideal models for researching human disease since they may suffer from many of the same illnesses as humans—cancer, HIV, and Alzheimer's, to mention a few. Researchers may be able to understand how to avoid sickness in people by studying how cats have evolved to withstand diseases.

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  • 05 of 05

    Black Cats Can Change Color


    Your black cat's fur might become a rusty brown hue if he has the tabby stripe gene and spends his days sunbathing in the sun. Why? The pigment in their fur is broken away by the sun's rays, revealing the underlying tabby stripes.

  • How long do black cats live?

    The average lifespan of a house cat is about 15 years, give or take.

  • What breed are black cats?

    There are more than a dozen breeds of black cat, but the ones you'll encounter most often are mixed-breed American shorthair.

  • Why do black cats have bald spots?

    Although black cats are thought to have more bald patches than other cats, this is an optical illusion: we notice the spots more because the cat is black. Cats can have bald patches for a variety of causes, including fleas and parasites. Ask your vet why your black cat has a bald spot!