(CNN)Black cats get a bad rap, especially during Halloween season, when they're associated with witches and other scary things that go bump in the night.
It's National Black Cat Day! Here are five facts to know about our black feline friends
It sounds like spooky fun, but their reputation as an omen of bad luck has real consequences. Experts say black cats are less likely to be adopted and some people even harm them.
National Black Cat Day aims to eliminate the stigma by celebrating black cats for the cute, loveable, furry friends they are.
Here are five things everyone should know about black cats:
In the United States, many people believe black cats bring bad luck or are altogether evil. But it's not a belief shared across all cultures.
In Britain, Japan and Ireland, a black cat crossing your path is considered a sign of good luck.
And in ancient Egypt, cats were considered an embodiment of the gods and worshiped. In fact, the cat goddess Bastet was part black cat and part woman, illustrating just how much black cats meant to that society.
Many animal shelters struggle to find good homes for black cats.
"Black cats are adopted at a slower rate than regular cats," Diana Nelson, a senior volunteer at The Lange Foundation in Los Angeles, California, told CNN. "They're so sweet and they're so beautiful, we can't tell you why except that people have weird, old superstitions."
Samantha Shelton, president and CEO of Furkids in Georgia, said black cats at her shelter are constantly being overlooked for the same reasons. "There is definitely misinformation associated with black cats and they are overlooked because of the long-standing stigma that surrounds them," she told CNN.
Because so many people associate black cats with evil, they're often harmed.
Halloween season is an especially dangerous time for black cats, says Furkids, the largest no-kill shelter in Georgia. "Black cats often suffer cruelty and harm during Halloween season," the organization's website says. "We recommend keeping all cats indoors to protect them from weather, wild animals and cruelty."
Stephanie Bell, senior director at PETA, shared similar concern: "The lead-up to Halloween can be a dangerous time for black cats, who are at higher risk of being abducted and injured or killed by cruel people using them as 'decorations,' trick-or-treat 'pranks,' or even grisly animal sacrifices."