Feline Feelgood Factor Italians Fight for the Right to Love Black Cats

Black cats get a bad rap, particularly in Italy where they are popularly associated with evil. Now in an effort to disassociate these maligned felines from superstition and stop an estimated 60,000 annual cat killings, Italy is to hold its first national Black Cat Day.

An Italian animal protection organization estimates that Italians kill 60,000 black cats every year.

An Italian animal protection organization estimates that Italians kill 60,000 black cats every year.

Black cats symbolize different things in different cultures and countries, but in Italy the black cat is all bad, all the time. Traffic is wont to stop suddenly while motorists wait for a black cat to finish crossing the road, and Italian men have been known to make the sign of the cross with one hand and cover their private parts with the other to ward off the supposed evil of a passing cat.

As part of a feline image makeover, an Italian animal protection group has organized a celebration to be held Saturday in large Italian cities including Milan and Rome. The events are aimed at countering this societal prejudice and will include art exhibitions celebrating black cats, outdoor bring-your-own-black-cat gatherings and picnics, and award ceremonies for people who have protected black cats.

"Our primary objective is to markedly reduce the number of animals that are kidnapped or abandoned," Lorenzo Croce, head of the Italian Association in Defense of Animals and the Environment (AIDAA), told ANSA, an Italian news agency.

"However, our aim is also to create a day to fight superstitions and help relaunch the image of the beautiful black cats," he added.

Croce's organization believes that each year 60,000 black cats in Italy are kidnapped, abandoned or killed "in esoteric or satanic rituals."

The organization also estimates that reports of black cats -- associated with witchcraft since the Middle Ages -- being sacrificed in black magic rituals peak around Halloween.

"Black cats are those most targeted by the superstitious, as well as delinquents, who delight in killing them," Croce told ANSA.



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