© 2024 University of Missouri - KBIA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

More Than A Witch’s Best Friend — Clearing Misconceptions About Black Cats

Every year, Aug. 17 is National Black Cat Appreciation Day. These felines have become the poster cats for superstition, but they’re so much more than the age-old myths stacked against them.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, we learned about how the myths surrounding black cats impact their adoption rates. Humane Society of Missouri’s Becky Krueger joined to talk about the center’s black cats up for adoption and to give an update on its curbside adoption program.

One of the origin stories about black cats dates back to Greek mythology. Hera, the goddess of marriage and family, is believed to have turned a servant named Galinthias into a black cat out of anger. Galinthias was then sent to the underworld to serve Hecate, the Greek Goddess of death, witchcraft and ghosts.

But Krueger explained that genetic mutations are the cause of a cat’s black fur.

“They tend to be more resistant to diseases like feline immunodeficiency virus, and the mutation that causes the cats to be black is in the same genetic family as genes known to give humans resistance to diseases like HIV,” she said.

It is also believed that during the Middle Ages, Pope Gregory VI claimed that Satan could take the form of a black cat when walking the Earth. And in the U.S., black cats became associated with evil and witchcraft among the Separatist Pilgrims.

The stigma makes them less likely to get adopted than other cats to this day.

“Cat lovers know that the black cats are not bad luck at all. They're wonderful, sweet, loving cats. … [That’s why] we love Black Cat Appreciation Day, because it gives us a chance to really let people know that these are wonderful cats that are very deserving,” Krueger said.

The Humane Society of Missouri currently has 19 black cats and kittens available for adoption, only offered via its curbside adoption program. As of Monday, the center has conducted 1,848 curbside adoptions.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

Copyright 2021 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.