It’s time to throw out the tired cliché of a black cat as the harbinger of bad luck and join the savvy cat lovers who celebrate the beauty and good fortune of coal-black kitties. You’re probably most familiar with the domestic shorthair that’s all black, but black cats actually rule the purebred kingdom, too. For some black cat breed 411, we checked in with Jacqui Bennett, all breed judge for the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) and Jodell Raymond, the CFA’s director of marketing communications. Here are eight notable black beauties:
Fun cat fact: the Bombay is one singular feline sensation. “While there are many domestic (mix breed) black cats, as well as black cats as representatives in 22 of CFA’s 41 breeds, only one comes in black exclusively,” says Bennett.
Nicknamed the “panther for your parlor,” the Bombay — a hybrid of a black American Shorthair and a Sable Burmese — originated in 1953 and achieved acceptance into the CFA’s championship class in 1976. These cats have bright copper-colored eyes, coats that rival patent leather and sweetly expressive faces. Bombay’s are easily leash-trained and possess an easy-going temperament, making them great companions for humans and other pets.
One of the CFA’s two most popular breeds (the Exotic is the other), the black coats of Persian cats are sleek and shiny. Shapely, short-legged, striking and sweet, the Persian always commands attention, but the black-coated version is as irresistible as a cuddly teddy bear. “My cat Dust’s coat is so long it drags the floor,” says Raymond of her black Persian, whose jet black ruff contrasts with subtle color variations.
Another breed with representatives in little black dresses (or tuxedos, if you prefer) is the Exotic, the CFA’s other most popular cat, according to Bennett. Known as the Persian for busy people who love that breed but lack the time for the required daily grooming, the CFA calls Exotics the best-kept secret of the cat world.
“My Exotic cat Salem’s coat is short, thick, dense and very, very dark,” says Raymond, who adds that both her black Exotic and Persian play fetch and seek lots of attention. Mellow and affectionate, the Exotic is rarely vocal, intelligent and loyal.
With large expressive eyes and a coat as soft as a bunny’s, the show-stopping Ragamuffin is a calm, patient kitty who’s eager to please. Heavily-boned, medium-sized cats with medium-long coats that do not mat, black Ragamuffins are standouts with the look and feel of a plush toy. Whether they’re companions to active children or the buddy of a resident cat or dog, Ragamuffins are known for listening actively and commenting on what you’re telling them. Their temperament makes them easily trainable — Ragamuffins do well on harnesses and in learning games — and their sweet personalities mean they’re natural companions for those seeking company and support.
Scottish Fold (long and short haired)
Their impish ears give the Scottish Fold a look of mischief and his adorably-tiny voice is a contrast to his sturdy, rounded body. A hardy breed that originated in barnyards, Scottish Folds — which come both long and short haired — are born with straight ears that usually begin ‘folding’ at three to four weeks of age (although not all Scottish Fold kittens’ ears fold). With sweet dispositions that mesh with their comically owlish looks, Scottish Folds are friends to dogs, other cats and especially their own favorite humans, adapting well to busy families as well as single companions.
Seeing a black Selkirk Rex is a bit like looking at a very busy, dark-hued dust mop. These cats have naturally curly coats that can look as if they’ve had a bad case of static electricity, but their patient, loving temperament endears them to fans of the breed. Sturdy, healthy and heavy-boned, with a round head and soft coat, the Selkirk Rex originated from the breeding of a rescued shelter cat and a black Persian.
American Bobtail (long and short haired)
This breed has the appearance of a wild animal, but his affectionate nature and intelligence will instantly put you at ease. American Bobtails are active and interactive, devoted to their humans with a strong, loyal bond. Their tails are highly expressive, and no two are alike; they may be kinked or show a bump or be slightly curved. The American Bobtail’s voice is amusing, as he will chirp or trill or even make a clicking sound when happy. Easily trained to walk on a leash, they love to play and entertain their humans and their wild streak sometimes shows as they demonstrate their hunting technique by catching flying insects in mid-air or even stalking, capturing and carrying their toys as if they are a fresh kill.
The American Curl (long and short haired)
The earls of the American Curl swoop back in a graceful arc that gives the American Curl a perpetually surprised expression (fun fact: the Curl’s ears are in a tight rosebud when kittens are born, unfurling gradually at about four months of age to give them their joyful expressions). If you’ve seen a Curl, you may have been reminded of a Lynx, with their long tufts of fur accenting that swept-back look. The Curl personality is truly unique, as they are not only devoted to their humans, but they’re constantly busy trying to figure out every new situation and space. They’re also eager to be with you and share your space and your adventures.
Kathy Blumenstock is owned by cats, loved by dogs, writes about both, and still longs for a horse.