Black cats are often associated with all things evil. And while the superstition that black cats are bad luck has been dispelled at length, these little black fur balls with bright googly eyes can’t seem to shake the stigma, especially around Halloween.
October 27 is actually International Black Cat Day (yes, there’s a day for everything and there’s some contention about whether it’s today or August 17). And while the day is aimed at bringing attention to the fact these feline friends aren’t actually the devil incarnate, it serves as a PSA that black cats are disproportionately dumped in pounds. (As The Spruce Pets reports, some animal shelters won’t actually place black cats in homes during the month of October for fear of them being used sacrificially). This hurts.
The go-to for Hollywood is to give them a name synonymous with Satan, but there’s much more to these fur balls than the creepy stuff. To celebrate, here’s our favourite black cats in pop culture.
Salem Saberhagen (Sabrina The Teenage Witch)
It wouldn’t be right to not include (arguably) the most iconic talking black cat of 90s TV.
As per the Archie Comics comic series, Salem, from Sabrina The Teenage Witch, was sentenced to spend 100 years as a cat by the Witches Council as punishment for attempting to take over the world. His caretakers while in cat form are Sabrina’s aunts, Hilda, and by default, Zelda.
Salem’s name is obviously derived from Salem in Massachusetts, infamous for the Salem Witch Trials – a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in the late 1690s.
Although seeking world domination at every chance he can get, Salem becomes a pretty good pal for Sabrina.
You can watch Sabrina The Teenage Witch on Paramount+.
Thackery Binx (Hocus Pocus)
Thackery Binx is a short haired black cat who paid the ultimate price trying to protect his sister in the 1993 film Hocus Pocus.
Then human boy was transformed into an immortal black cat back in the 17th-Century after he insulted one of the witches and returned to his old home every Halloween to prevent the sisters from ever returning.
Binx joins forces with Max, Dani and Allison to help rid the world of the Sanderson sisters when they return to Salem on Halloween night after Max lights the black flame candle and accidentally brings the witches back from the dead.
We’re not sure Binx will make a return in Hocus Pocus 2 because of, you know, the way the first one ended.
You can watch Hocus Pocus on Disney+.
Snowball II (The Simpsons)
Snowball II was so very creatively named after the Simpson family’s first cat, Snowball. Though the OG Snowball had white fur, Snowball II had black fur and yellow eyes.
Snowball II made her appearance after the passing of Snowball, keeping the name despite having black fur is pure Simpsons chef’s kiss irony.
Snowball V is also due a mention here, with Lisa just pretending the family’s fifth cat is their second.
Some trivia I learned while compiling this list is that while Snowballs were mostly ‘voiced’ through stock cat sound effects, Dan Castellaneta and Frank Welker would often provide additional vocal effects.
How Lisa and Snowball V became best pals warms the heart:
You can catch The Simpsons on Disney+.
Felix The Cat
Felix first broke into pop culture in 1919 – making him the oldest kitty on our list.
He is a children’s comedy cartoon character created during the silent film era and is no doubt one of the most recognisable cats, ever. His name was partially derived from the Latin word for ‘happy’ which makes us happy he wasn’t treated as a typical, ‘evil’ black cat. Felix is known for wiggling his way out of any situation with his magic bag of tricks. He’s mischievous but has a heart of gold.
Felix has had many roles in his 100 years of service, including being the face of cat food, but here is some of his earlier work.
No streaming services in Australia appear to have Felix the Cat content, but there’s plenty of clips throughout the ages on the internet.
Luna (Sailor Moon)
Luna has a very important job of being an advisor to Sailor Moon and the rest of the Guardian Senshi through the anime series. When her crescent moon glows, the Sailor Senshi’s powers are reawoken.
This special feline friend can talk, although she has to hide it to pass as an average purple-black cat. Just don’t try and stick a bandaid over her moon.
Luna’s anime debut was the first of the original manga character, her wiki tells us.
You can catch one season of the original Sailor Moon on Funimation.
Black cats are associated with evil and we hate that. The Disney film Cinderella unfortunately leans into this trope, with Lucifer, the Tremaine family’s black cat, boasting a wicked and conniving personality.
Much like his masters, Lucifer is cruel to Cinderella. His plots typically involve sabotaging her bloodhound Bruno and pursuing the Château’s mice in attempts to devour them.
We like to think Lucifer just wasn’t given the opportunity to be a good guy.
You can catch Cinderella on, of course, Disney+.
Henry (Henri, Le Chat Noir)
An honourable mention goes to the internet’s favourite longhair tuxedo cat Henri, Le Chat Noir.
French for ‘Henry, the black cat’, this angsty little man starred in his very own web series of short films on the existential musings of the cat Henri. Henri and his human Will Braden (the ‘thieving filmmaker’) made 17 short films together, which have been viewed millions of times.
Although Henri has since left us, passing in December last year, his legacy continues for everyone who has ever lived with a cat to appreciate the sheer audacity of these creatures. His Facebook is also posthumously remembering him, mostly poking fun at the ‘L’imbecile Blanc’ (the white cat Henry shared a home with).
His retirement film hits even harder now, rest in peace, little cranky man.
Check out more of his short films via the Henri, Le Chat Noir YouTube channel.