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The Black Cat

It is often said "What's in a name?" the object, whatever it is, by any
other would be the same, and yet there is much in a name; but this is
not the question at issue, which is that of colour. Why should a black
cat be thought so widely different from all others by the foolish,
unthinking, and ignorant? Why, simply on account of its colour being
black, should it have ascribed to it a numberless variety of bad omens,
besides having certain necromantic power? In Germany, for instance,
black cats are kept away from children as omens of evil, and if a black
cat appeared in the room of one lying ill it was said to portend death.
To meet a black cat in the twilight was held unlucky. In the "good old
times" a black cat was generally the only colour that was favoured by
men reported to be wizards, and also were said to be the constant
companions of reputed witches, and in such horror and detestation were
they then held that when the unfortunate creatures were ill-treated,
drowned, or even burned, very frequently we are told that their cats
suffered martyrdom at the same time. It is possible that one of the
reasons for such wild, savage superstition may have arisen from the fact
of the larger amount of electricity to be found by friction in the coat
of the black cat to any other; experiments prove there is but very
little either in that of the white or the red tabby cat. Be this as it
may, still the fact remains that, for some reason or other, the black
cat is held by the prejudiced ignorant as an animal most foul and
detestable, and wonderful stories are related of their actions in the
dead of the night during thunder-storms and windy nights. Yet, as far as
I can discover, there appears little difference either of temper or
habit in the black cat distinct from that of any other colour, though it
is maintained by many even to this day that black cats are far more
vicious and spiteful and of higher courage, and this last I admit.
Still, when a black cat is enraged and its coat and tail are well "set
up," its form swollen, its round, bright, orange-yellow eye distended
and all aglow with anger, it certainly presents to even the most
impartial observer, to say the least of it, a most "uncanny" appearance.
But, for all this, their admirers are by no means few; and, to my
thinking, a jet-black cat, fine and glossy in fur and elegantly formed,
certainly has its attractions; but I will refer to the superstitions
connected with the black cat further on.

A black cat for show purposes should be of a uniform, intense black; a
brown-black is richer than a blue-black. I mean by this that when the
hair is parted it should show in the division a dark brown-black in
preference to any tint of blue whatever. The coat or fur should be
short, velvety, and very glossy. The eyes round and full, and of a deep
orange colour; nose black, and also the pads of the feet; tail long,
wide at the base, and tapering gradually towards the end. A long thin
tail is a great fault, and detracts much from the merits it may
otherwise possess. A good, deep, rich-coloured black cat is not so
common as many may at first suppose, as often those that are said to be
black show tabby markings under certain conditions of light; and, again,
others want depth and richness of colour, some being only a very dark
gray. In form it is the same as other short-haired cats, such as I have
described in the white, and this brings me to the variety called

Next: The Blue Cat

Previous: The Short-haired White Cat

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