It’s Halloween week, and I’m seeing black cat decorations all around me. Black cats have gotten a bad rap for centuries — many cultures have perpetuated myths about them. They have been maligned and even tortured because of their alleged association with evil and witchcraft. Chinese believed a black cat was an omen for poverty, and German folklore says that a black cat jumping on a sick bed signals that death is near.
We cat lovers know the truth about black cats. They make very loving, playful companions. And so as I wait for the coming of Trick-or-Treaters and The Great Pumpkin, I would like to take a moment to thank all the black cats who have crossed my path over the years. They weren’t bad luck at all, but a source of joy and wisdom. There are far too many to mention, but a few stand out.
Thanks to Maya, who opened a friend’s heart, and continues to watch over the stepchild he has lost. Thanks to Puyi, named for a boy emperor, who as a tiny kitten had the courage to leap into my sister’s hands from the roof of an apartment building. He continues his journey by comforting my recently widowed mother.
And many kudos to Mabel, who came into my cousin’s life just in time to help him through difficult surgeries, rehabilitation and his final transition. Soon after arriving, Mabel began staring at him and wouldn’t let him out of her sight, as if she was trying to tell him something. It soon made sense as the familiar numbness radiated down his arm, telling him the tumor was back. She now watches over his parents.
And finally, thanks to Lovey, who visits us almost everyday, and who most certainly lives up to his name. I can’t sit down for more than three seconds before he jumps into my lap. And on a cold fall day, there’s nothing like a purring cat to warm you up.
I’d also like us all to remember the feral black cats who don’t have laps to sit in, and who risk injury and cruel pranks this Halloween season. They remind us of the violence that haunts humanity far worse than any horror movie character could. I know that once we rid ourselves of the underlying causes like poverty and ignorance, all creatures will be safe.
We can’t face the ills of society, however, by hating those who hurt black cats. We can only evolve by taking responsibility for doing our own work. It’s about having Puyi courage, and seeing where anger and judgment live in our own hearts. It’s about having Mabel persistence, and staring adversity right in the face. And it’s about living life as Lovey and Maya would — by being kind to a stranger and being patient with those around us.
Have you experienced the wisdom of a black cat? Please share below.
This Halloween, make a black cat proud!
Dr. Susan Wagner is a board certified veterinary neurologist whose pioneering work acknowledges the bioenergetic interaction between people and animals. She is an advocate for change in the area of interpersonal violence and animal cruelty, and works toward a greater understanding surrounding the health implications of the human-animal bond.