If primary school history taught us anything it was that the Egyptians adored cats. Their adoration was so much in fact that cats were considered gods. They were the little, four-legged, furry rock stars of the age.
Whilst one could argue this still remains the case – with half of the internet seemingly dedicated to videos of funny felines (we won’t mention what the other half of videos are) when we think of the general consensus around cats, they’re not quite as worshipped as they once were.
Selfish, fickle, disloyal. These are all words that have come to be associated with the once pedestalled pets.
But the ones that have it worst of all are the black cats. Sneaky, dangerous, bringers of bad luck. There are endless myths surrounding the black cat that have caused them to become the least loved of all the moggies.
Research by Cats Protection suggests that black cats spend, on average, 13% longer waiting to be adopted than any other coloured cat. Furthermore, they’re more likely to be let go too it seems, with an RSPCA report detailing that of the more than 1000 cats taken in, 70% are black or black and white in colour.
But, the really scary fact is, black cats are also more likely to be neglected, abused and even killed. And why? Nothing more than silly superstition.
Now, I’m not saying all superstitions should be dropped. We all have our quirks – for instance, I refuse to walk over three consecutive drains as my cousin once told me it was bad luck – but this brings no harm to anyone. I have a Russian friend who believes that before drinking you must make a toast. Again, not harmful and actually, quite enjoyable for all.
But some superstitions should have been forgotten centuries ago.
So where did this superstition come from?
The ‘crazy cat lady’ isn’t a new phenomenon. Lonely women have been caring for cats for centuries (proof, I think, that they are wonderful pets) but, during the mass hysteria that was the witch trials, women weren’t the only ones set for a terrible time.
Legend has it that when two men tried to scare away a black cat by throwing rocks it became injured, fleeing into a near-by house. This house, however, just so happened to be the home of an old woman accused of witchcraft. Later that day the old lady was seen limping around town and thus the myth was born that witches could transform into black cats. From here the rumours spread and distorted and eventually black cats were considered an omen of ill fate, the familiars of witches and friends of the devil. They were often killed along with the ‘witches’ that cared for them.
But hold on, we now know that there’s no such thing as ‘witches’ and the persecution of them has long been over, so why do black cats still have this reputation?
It took a long time for the hysteria to die down and slowly the PR for women recovered (well, in regards to witchcraft anyway). But no one exercised crisis management for black cats. They still have superstition and myth attached to them and this has long been causing them misery, abuse and serious harm.
So, I’m here to ask, do black cats need some long required crisis management? I believe so. And, if any black cat happens to be reading this blog post, know that we here at theblueballroom welcome you to come to our all new ‘Crisis communications workshop’.
To find out more click here to read about our crisis PR workshop (although you might need to get a human to help you, what with the paws and all).