subject to more enlightened thinking? David’s cute and placid black cat Lola Surely we can appreciate the beauty of the black cat? But sadly no. So many of these beautiful felines languish in cat shelters while people prefer Vet The church began what turned out to be a one thousand year killing spree of cats and, of course, primarily of the black cat, which was associated with the forces of darkness. Indeed, a black cat only had to have a small fleck of white on it, to sometimes be offered mercy and spared its owner’s fate. Yet the same redeeming white flash on a black cat is associated with Sith in Scottish and Irish folklore, who steals souls before they could reach heaven. Just to show how pervasive imagery and mental association can be even nowadays, Sith lords are, of course, those of the “dark side” in Star Wars mythology, who of course wear all black costumes… Wherever in history, cats have been persecuted; black cats, with their dark, sleek looks, have somehow managed to be associated with an unfortunate conjunction of an association between blackness, the night and the devil himself. And of course, let’s face it, when do cats come out but at night. They are crepuscular, obligate carnivores, required to hunt at key times when their prey is available. They typically sleep for the greater part of the day, but come alive at the very time we humans are subject to other diurnal rhythms that call us to out beds. They are agile and fast and even their hunting habits can seem extreme and sometimes cruel. The resurgence of the Black Plague in the 1600’s was attributed to cats who were mercilessly slaughtered as a result, with the perverse irony that the rat population increased and thereby created more rodent vectors of the Yersinia Pestis bacterium. The plague then spread without restriction. Humanity always pays a high price for its uninformed strategies. In a modern world, surely cats and in particular black cats can be Pets Magazine tortoiseshells and other styles that somehow appear more appealing. One cannot help however thinking that there is a deep prejudice in the subconscious of some that relates to historical folklore. Conversely, the black cat can be seen as good luck. In Germany depending on which way a cat crosses your path left to right, right to left can mean good fortune, or otherwise. There are many examples of when black cats can bring good luck. The black cat is the emblem of Sunderland Football Club, for example. However, every good example can be counterbalanced by a not so good one; for example, the legend of the Ovinnik, a Slavic, a mischievous spirit that used to manifest itself as a black cat with flaming eyes.
Vet However you cut it, we live in modern times. We struggle now to believe in the existence of God in many cases in an increasingly secular society. And yet despite all of this, we still have this uneasy association with a black cat. Ironically, black cats lend themselves very well to graphic design. Many iconic images that are produced for the Web or elsewhere are typically those of a black cat because the image is clear and equivocal and distinctive as well as providing effective contrast and impact. The truth is that many black cats are not black. Comparatively few breeds are a pure black pigment. Many have other colours encompassed within them, which present themselves depending on the light. Many black cats for example are chocolate brown in sunlight and some black cats have been known to find the dark pigment recede and acquire a hue of “rust” in favour of their more long lasting brown pigmentation. The truth is I couldn’t go past a black cat. From the very time that my dear Lola came in to my life as a kitten, she was nicknamed “micro-panther” because of her sleek lines, her elegant gait and the pure aesthetics displayed as she moved. Another very practical thing is that black cat hair doesn’t show up on anything other than the lightest of fabrics and so if the odd hair should stray onto a suit or whatever, there is no sense of looking any less than pristine on arrival at the office! As a black cat owner and as somebody who knows many people who have black cats, one thing is clear is that the black cat is every bit as loyal, affectionate, fascinating, sensual and curious as any of the feline world. Modern design has seen black as more chic, sophisticated and frankly Bast: The mythical black cat upmarket than many other kitties. There is even a black cat’s calendar now and they all look great. The history of cats is fascinating. It was only with the creation of agrarian, (agricultural) societies, that their domesticity really got under way. The dog was domesticated a long time before that for defence and hunting. With humanity’s need for the maintenance of food stored supplies, the destruction of vermin and the avoidance of famine in organised societies, cats far exceed the merits that their canine counterparts offer us, even if they Pets Magazine don’t run for sticks without an O2 subscription! Our relationship with the cat is improving and strengthening with each generation. Our understanding is still limited. Fossils record has a huge “cat gap” millions of years, where a development of cats is simply absent, although there are some early indications that this is now slowly being filled due to new fossil finds. We need a contemporary modern relationship with the cats. In this, black cat offers it as something that requires you to think for yourself, not the superstitious past, and enjoy them for what they truly are. So next time you are thinking of adopting a cat, passing through a cat shelter or simply looking at a litter of kittens, do factor in the black cat. Put what might be subconscious cultural heritage to one side, born of misguided Christianity and other beliefs and look at these magnificent creatures for the beauty, aesthetics and sheer fun that they exude. Give them a good home and the rewards will be truly magical, without you having to burn at the stake for it! Dr David Cliff is MD of Gedanken, a company specialising in coachingbased support and personal development.
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