I would like to discuss some cat related myths and find the truths behind them. I have 2 black cats, Hocus and Pocus, and my neighbors have warned me not to let them outside because others have been known to try to hurt black cats. Finding these actions to be absurd, I wanted to investigate why cats have such a stigma surrounding them.
Black Cat Fear
The idea that black cats specifically are evil comes from the Middle Ages when older single women were accused of being witches. Often these women would search for companionship and found solace in the overpopulation of cats; word quickly spread of the association between “witches” and cats.
Since cats are mostly nocturnal animals (sleeping during the day and roaming the night), and humans are diurnal ( active during the day and sleeping at night), another connection was made. If the normal women were out and about during the day, the witches must turn into the black cats seen around at night! It didn’t help that there was a natural overgrowth population of black cats. To make it worse, most cats look black at night – with the exception of white cats – which were considered good luck.
On top of that staggering evidence, have you ever noticed cats eyes glow at night? No doubt this is due to their magical witch powers hidden within the cat right? Nope. This biological function comes down to the anatomy of the eye and has no magical associations. Light entering the cats eye is reflected off an enlarged (compared to humans) retina and tapetum lucidum, a part of a cat’s eye located in the very back that acts as a mirror. This allows cats to see near perfectly at night as well have the appearance of a glow.
Cats & Weather
Another mystery about cats is their uncanny sense of predicting weather. When your cat is restless, prepare for a storm – or so they say. Instead of believing that cats have psychic powers, it is more believable if you understand how storms work.
As I understand, when a warm front of air meets a cold front, a storm is produced. This is all done by nature moving air and energy which can be felt by sensitive animals such as cats. Also, if you ask any human with arthritis or a recent bone surgery, they can feel an increase in pressure as a barometer would show right before a storm. Your cat being restless comes from their early days as a wild cat when they would have to find shelter before an impending storm.
Cats can also predict earthquakes and will seem frightened, irritated, and poof their fur to appear larger. This “prediction” method is very similar to the storm theory; when you understand the mechanics behind an earthquake it is easy to understand why cats can sense what may be coming.
An earthquake occurs when tectonic plates in the center of the Earth shift and either collide together or pull apart. When this happens, it is literally like pulling a rug out from someone standing on it. The ground we stand on shakes and moves. These movements can be felt from the very first movement of the plates, but we are not always aware of the seismic vibrations. We walk in shoes, live in houses and are distracted by our daily lives. However a cat that walks on bare pads all day and requires balance and sensitivity for every movement will often sense a vibration in the ground before we do. Of course having the ground move below your feet is a scary thing and your cat will react as such!