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Black cat out of the bag: Once marginalised due to superstition, now popular pets among Delhi youngsters

Synonymous with Halloween, felines with black fur that were once marginalised due to superstition are now popular pets among the city’s youngsters

Published: 31st October 2021 07:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st October 2021 07:36 AM   |  A+A-

black cat

Kaalchi

Long considered harbingers of bad luck, black cats have been marginalised and often regarded as a bad omen for centuries. Consistently playing an important role in folklore and superstition throughout history, the belief that black cats are associated with Satan or even witchcraft, feature in myths in both European countries as well as in India. Swati Singh (26) who runs The Wet Nose, an adoption centre and boarding for cats in Mayur Vihar, says how they have to be extra careful during Diwali: “Many people perform strange practises during this time. Last year, we received reports of two dead black cats on Diwali morning. It was really disheartening.”

A number of people are wary of adopting black cats. Singh adds, “I know a person who abandoned her cat at my boarding since her family wasn’t accepting them. Another boy who had previously shown an interest in adopting a black cat said he would ask his parents about it, and then backed out at the last minute.” However, over the past few years, there has been a change in the attitude towards these cats. Often inspired by fictional characters including Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch, the urban young in Delhi-NCR have embraced this monochromatic feline as pets.

Merlin

Shattering the superstition
Nakul Chauhan (36) from Noida points out, “Superstitions based on colours in cats is no different than racism between people based on colour of skin. We must not give any importance to it.” Taking this thought forward, It has been noticed that a number of millennials and Gen Zs have recently started actively adopting these black furry beings. Nakul along with wife Pragya Rathore, are proud parents to Kaalchi (9) and Bat (2.5). They say that the colour of their fur coats never bothered them during adoption.

“Bat was abandoned. We decided to adopt him since we had an affinity towards black cats,” Nakul adds. In comparison, Kanika Amera from Gurugram points out how she had been brought up with stories and superstitions about black cats. However, that did not stop her from adopting them. Doda, who she adopted in 2020, is her third black cat. “Adopting cats was one of the most important decisions in my life. It made me realise how misunderstood they have been for ages. People need to understand that they are as affectionate as dogs,” says Kanika. She adds that while her parents were wary in the beginning, after meeting her cats and understanding how friendly they are, they have become fond of them. 

A happy revelation
Tanusha Barik (23) from East of Kailash, says that while adopting Merlin, her black cat, was merely incidental, it only occurred to her later that had she not rescued him, he would have had far less chances at finding a home unlike other stray kittens. “While my friends had been enchanted by him, the grown-ups were a little slow to take a liking to him. The help who would come to clean our house was suspicious of Merlin at first. But, after a day or two, they became best friends.” She also points out that a lot of her prejudices shattered with Merlin’s arrival, “I have been a dog person for the longest time. It’s only after Merlin came into my life that I have changed a lot of my beliefs about cats.”  As many make black cats their preferred choice for pets, these age-old superstitions are being shattered one kitten at  a time.

MONOCHROME FELINES
Although they have a bad reputation in some cultures, black cats were not always signs of bad omen. Instead, they were worshipped by many ancient cultures such as the Egyptians, whose cat goddess Bast was often depicted as a black cat. In Japan, too, black cats are known to bring good luck. It is believed that a woman with a black cat would be accosted by many suitors. They have also been revered by sailors. Many sailor’s wives would own black cats in the hope that it would bring good luck to their husbands.


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