How the Black Cat Got Its Spots

Bad Luck

Bad luck can come from anywhere. We all have bouts of it from time to time, and sometimes it feels like the universe is just out to get you.
Some of us may go as far as not opening an umbrella indoors, walking underneath a ladder, breaking a mirror, or crossing paths with a black cat.
As for the latter, there’s the reason the black cat got its spots.

Cats have always had a symbiotic relationship with humans. In fact, house cats haven’t really been fully domesticated. They are natural predators, and usually at the top of their food chains, so they have sort of found a way to beat the system by living alongside humans. And they have been very important to human civilizations in history–mostly because they keep disease-carrying pests to a minimum. So, how did the black cat get its spots?

Witchcraft and cats

Well, when the Church took a crusade against witchcraft in the Middle Ages, the superstition of black cats was bad news for cats and their owners.
The church went willy-nilly snatching black cats and burning them alive, much like people accused of witchcraft.

But that was only the beginning of the black cat’s bad luck. When the superstition of witchcraft died down, a new one popped up.
Black cats were great to cure disease, especially when you killed one and burnt it. But only if it was completely black.

How the Black Cat Got Its Spots

In response to the persecution of black kitties, people who needed their pet cats began to breed them.
Many black cats have a white spot, sometimes around their nose, a bow-tie on their chest, or the white feet that win the name “Mittens.” Those who owned black cats during the middle ages were also persecuted for witchcraft, so for the best interest of cat owners who had black cats, they began to breed them to have white. One white spot meant a saving grace for cat owners, and the cats.
In fact, breeding black cats has become a real practice. It depends on where you want the spot, but “low grade white spotting” to high grade have been practiced for centuries. In fact, those cats with “mittens” are just part of the colloquial breeding.

Turns out the black cats are a little magical, because colloquial breeding lessens the variety of eye colors. A mostly black cat can have a wide range of colors, a cat saved from persecution has been bred to have not only a white spot (or two) but a smaller gene pool.

Next time you look at your black cat, even if they have a white underbelly or feet, think of how they got to it.


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