BLACK CATS: Black cats are thought to be bad luck if they cross your path. They hold prominent roles in various Halloween-themed scary movies, and Thackery Banks lives as one in one very notable magic-themed flick (although some may consider that Hocus Pocus).

One of the origins of the negative association with black cats began in the Middle Ages, when society found that single women who fed stray cats were guilty of witchcraft. Due to that connection, the cats were considered the “familiars” of witches and were targeted for death.

Sadly, the killing of so many cats was a factor in the spread of the Black Death, also known as the Plague, because rats carried the Plague and there were fewer cats to deal with the rising rat population.

In Scotland, the belief is that a stray black cat will bring you prosperity. Ireland is another story, as anyone who sees a black cat cross their path in the moonlight in that country prepares for a terrible death during an epidemic. For Germans, the cat’s direction factors in, as cats traveling from right to left across your path bring you bad luck, while those traveling from left to right in front of you leave good luck in their wake.

For pirates, a cat walking toward them was a good sign but any walking away was an omen of bad to come. In the United Kingdom, a cat walking toward a person is a bad omen, while walking away is a welcome sight. However, in England, a black cat is a wedding gift that brings good luck for the marriage.

Studies show that all cats are genetically either red or black or variations thereof. Two melanins account for the color. Eumelanin produces the blacks and browns, and Pheomelanine provides the reds to creams. Both cat parents must carry the black color gene in order to produce a black kitten. The all-time dominant cat coat pattern is agouti, or tabby. Some black cats carry the agouti gene and therefore can be seen to have tabby patterns if they are in the sunlight.

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