Superstition blamed for killing thousands of black cats in Italy
A leading animal rights group has estimated that 60,000 black cats are killed every year by Italians who believe that they bring bad luck.
The Italian Association for the Protection of Animals and the Environment claims that some are also killed as part of black magic rituals.
advertisementWhile black cats are seen as being lucky in the UK, many people in Italy believe that if a black cat crosses their path it indicates the devil is present. The association calculated its figure from observations of the stray cat population and from monitoring of animal ownership registers. The group said it had evidence that thousands of black cats vanished or were found dead each year.
Across large parts of Europe, black cats have been associated with witchcraft since the Middle Ages and were said to be the favourite companions for witches.
Lorenzo Croce, the association's president, blamed the Church for spreading myths about the animals.
"The Catholic Church has perpetuated this idea for centuries and it is now deeply implanted in people's minds," he said.
"For centuries black cats were massacred at the order of priests."
Mr Croce said Italians were very superstitious and more needed to be done to educate people.
"It is mostly uneducated people who would harm a black cat just because of its colour or would abandon a cat like this in the street to fall victim to other superstitious people," he said.
Mr Croce added that many of the cats disappeared around Hallowe'en. He blamed "strange rituals for worshipping evil", and said the perpetrators "need to sacrifice black cats while performing their rituals".
The association wants to hold a Black Cat Day every year on November 17, because the number 17 also holds negative connotations for Italians, who consider it to be as unlucky as the number 13.
It has been suggested that the superstition is related to the Roman numerals for the number 17, XVII, and an anagram of them, VIXI, which in Latin is the past tense of the verb to live.
Mr Croce said: "Our appeal for help to organise Black Cat Day has received a tremendously enthusiastic response from people who love the black cats just as much as all the others.
"We are planning to organise conferences and exhibitions in all major Italian cities, including Rome and Milan.
"The peak of it will be a big public concert in Rome that will celebrate these great, but tragically victimised, felines."
Last Mod: 26 Ağustos 2007, 13:56