BLACK CATS ARE THE UNOFFICIAL MASCOTS OF HALLOWEEN, AND WHETHER YOU CELEBRATE IT ALL YEAR ’ROUND OR JUST ONE DAY, IT’S HIGH TIME TO PAY TRIBUTE TO THESE SPOOKY SWEETHEARTS.
Cats in general have gotten a bad reputation over the long haul, for a variety of utterly silly reasons. Sure, they’re furry little tyrants who shed on our clothes with glee and sharpen their claws on expensive objects with abandon. And who hasn’t wondered what exactly our cats are staring at off in the distance, or why they insist on knocking the citrine off our carefully arranged altars? Logically, we know that these adorable freeloaders aren’t actually minions of Satan.
That hasn’t always been the case. Over the centuries, cats have had a wildly varied place among humans; they’ve gone from being worshipped à la Bast to murdered en masse as scape-kitties for causing the Black Plague. There are all sorts of gruesome myths about cats of all stripes, but black cats have borne the brunt of our historical ambivalence.
In the 17th Century, cats were associated with witchcraft in both Britain and the new-fangled colonies across the ocean, which culminated with the grotesque Salem witch trials of 1692. Sure, a witch could technically claim any cat as her familiar in the eyes of the hysterical anti-witchcraft brigade, but black cats seemed especially suspect.
On the other hand, black cats have their defenders. Sailors were huge fans of having black cats on board their ships for luck. Cats in general have gathered plenty of high-profile fans over the years, from Queen Victoria to Mark Twain and Hemingway. The black cat has been adopted as a symbol of counterculturalism, from “Sabo-Tabby” of the Industrial Workers of the World and anarcho-syndicalists to traditional American tattoo motifs.
Plus, black cats go with everything!
1. Loewe ‘Cat Face’ necklace
2. total look from fall/winter Chloé 2016
3. Debbie Harry with a black cat
4. Stella McCartney ‘Falabella’ cat crossbody bag
5. “Cats”, the musical, 1982 poster
6. Julie Newmar as CatWoman
7. total look from fall/winter Carven 2016
8. “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allan Poe illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley
9. Yazbukey cat clutch
10. Linda Farrow cat eye sunglasses
11. Hollywood Audition for Black Cats 1961 featured in LIFE magazine
12. The Kitten Covers – “Purr Division” – Unknown Whiskers by Alfra Martini
1. total look from fall/winter Isabel Marant 2016
2. MSGM cat cross body bag
3. total look from fall/winter Simone Rocha 2016
4. Brigitte Bardot with a black cat
5. woodblock prints by Kiyoshi Saito
6. advertisement for Lanvin’s “My Sin” perfume, 1920
7. Leonard Nimoy as Mr Spock in Star Trek “the black cat” episode