It’s apparently Cat Day today and time to celebrate the furry feline in your life or if you’re currently catless to go out and adopt one immediately. Since Halloween is fast approaching, I decided on an iconic black cat. This particular shade of kitty is often considered an omen in folklore, thought to bring bad luck, good luck and sometimes a mixture of the two. Some have said that it can morph into a human shape to be a spy or courier for witches. Pilgrims arriving in America for the first time were deeply suspicious of black cats, and well, just about everything really. But that’s why you’ll see them accompanying images of witches during Halloween here in the States. In Asia and the UK, however, black kitties are considered to bring good fortune. Unless you live in Yorkshire, then owning one is lucky, but having a strange black cat cross your path is still a major bummer.
When I was kid, I had heard the superstition the bad luck that comes by having a black cat cross your path, but didn’t really think much of it. Until, of course, it was Halloween night and we were going door to door in the ritual begging for treats. Then all the various superstitions came flooding back and for just one night, seemed like they might come true. When I was old enough to go door to door on my own, a group of friends and I came across a black cat. It was just sitting there and we froze immediately. Next, we slowly moved around it, all in a line, stepping slowly like we were walking on glass. Thankfully, it never moved to cross our path, but looking back it was probably just terrified of our bizarrely stupid behavior.
To this day, though, when I see a black cat cross the road, I still think back to that time. It’s funny how superstitions can take hold in a culture even if they aren’t actually believed anymore. It’s been years since I’ve heard anyone say, “step on a crack and break your mother’s back” but if I’m looking down to notice, I still find myself avoiding them. I’ll still walk around a ladder rather than walking under one, and don’t really attribute it to bad luck avoidance at all. It’s just a formed habit. I’ve never owned a cat of any color, but I think the black ones with their glossy fur are quite beautiful. In the end, I’ll always prefer dogs, so I’ll continue to enjoy black cats from afar. And sometimes, if the moon is full, walk gingerly around one. Just in case.
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Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Indian Yellow, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Deep. and Payne’s Grey. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon with black ink in a little red cloth hardbound l’aquarelle journal I found in a Paris shop.
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Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!