They follow me, you know, those four-legged shadows. From kitchen to bedroom to bathroom, there is no sanctity. I’m the gravity well to those furry little black holes, from whom only the light of their golden eyes can escape.
And yet they hide, too. In a dark room, they’re a tripping hazard. On the black couch, they’re a lump of the cushion. And corners? Boxes? Under a bed? They lurk, smirking all the while I’m searching.
Visually, they are the most stunning of cats. Their glossy black fur lends them an air of solemn sophistication greater than others of their species, even luxurious purebreds. They don’t clash with anything, but offer an elegant neutral accent to any room.
I’ve always been an unabashed ailurophile, and black cats have been my favorites for decades. They’ve made up the vast majority of cats I’ve shared a home with. It’s not just their looks that draw me, though that is certainly an excellent starting point; their collective history, as well as their unique traits within the cat kingdom, also bear consideration.
For example, they don’t usually stay glossy black. As they age, their coats often take on a deeper red or orange sheen—a fascinating change unnoticeable on any other type of cat. Sometimes it’s an early warning of health concerns, leading some to wonder if black cats often live longer naturally, or simply receive more timely care. Usually though, it’s the sun’s fault: All those sunbaths rust them!
But their history is perhaps one of the most unique things about them. Throughout the centuries, cats as a species have embodied the mystique, but black cats even more so.
Some cultures, particularly Asian ones, revered the black cat above all; others, including areas of Medieval Europe, reviled or even tried to eliminate them. Few other black animals, especially domesticated ones, evoke such strong feelings.
Whether the fallout from those superstitions remains a reality today is a matter of debate. Some studies indicate that the Western stigma is slight but ongoing, while others note both higher surrenders and adoptions. And, the color is genetically dominant, meaning there are simply more black cats than there are other types, which may skew study numbers.
But what I can tell you for fact (true, unadulterated fact!): If once you befriend a black cat, it will forever after be supreme in your heart. My journey began when I was ten, with an 8-week-old kitten I named Midnight Pantherina. She walked right to me when all the other kittens of her litter literally fled, plopped herself down at my feet, looked up, and mewed.
The rest is history. I still have black cats thirty years later, and it’s hard to imagine life without them. For many years, I had three at once, and friends constantly asked how I could tell them apart.
Thus would I plunge into a discussion on coat texture, body type, face type, eye tint or shape, and personality. Every cat was unique, and I could tell at a glance. Or a touch. Or even just a meow.
Midnight purred and drooled and said ‘hello’ when she was looking for me. Ebony mewled sweetly or hissed, depending on who you were. Choko sat in the loudly echoing hallway and yowled his heart out late at night.
Graham’s meow is raspy but polite, used only as needed, while his littermate Stevie chatters nonstop in the kitten mews his ten-year-old self has never outgrown.
I’ve had and loved cats of many colors and patterns, but my heart will always be most captive to the black ones: To their elegance, to their uniqueness within the seeming uniformity, and to the memories they evoke of those now gone. In history and in the now, black cats reign supreme.
Looking for more? Check out these other favorite things and cat things at the MockingOwl Roost.
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- My Favorite Things: The Tiger
- My Favorite Things: Quokkas
- Book Series Review: Cat Who Books
Tandy Malinak was engrossed in visual art, stage performance, and storytelling before she knew what the words meant. A second-generation homeschooler with a BA in Elementary Ed, she also knows kids and homelife; set her down with a cup of tea, and she’ll go until you stop her. She loves fantasy, sci-fi, Nintendo, board games, studying the Word, the smell of a campfire, the sound of ocean waves, and all things feline—to name a few! Originally from Seattle, Tandy now lives in Chicago’s northside with her husband, 2 dragon-loving kids, and 4 cats.
Tandy recently perched herself on Twitter’s branch. She’s still figuring it out, but will make noise there eventually.