So it is little wonder, perhaps, that the sudden disappearance of up to seven black cats from two neighbouring leafy villages in North Yorkshire, has been linked to the fast approaching Halloween.
The cats, all black and all highly unlikely to roam far from home, vanished one by one from their homes in Croft-on-Tees and Dalton-on-Tees just a mile or so down the road.
So bizarre is the spate of disappearances that the police are investigating amid fears that they have been snatched in a targeted campaign.
The much-loved pets, most of them microchipped, all disappeared during August and September and there have been no reports of cats of any other colour being lost or stolen.
In Croft, Harriet Boyd’s two black cats, brothers Austin and Arthur, both disappeared within weeks of each other.
Mrs Boyd, 39, a Teesside University lecturer said: “We’ve come to the inevitable conclusion that someone is taking the cats and we’re trying to imagine why.
“All the missing cats are black, none of any other colour we know of are missing, which is very strange and odd.
“I have been thinking in terms of witchcraft or perhaps the closeness to Halloween. It’s a disturbing thought but it’s still there.”
She said neither of the cats, who they got as kittens from a rescue shelter two years ago, had ever ventured away from home for longer than 24 hours. Both were incredibly friendly and well-known locally.
Mrs Boyd said her three children aged 10, eight and five were devastated.
She added: “I’ve put posters up everywhere, mail shotted the whole village, put it in local newsletters, on social media, but no one has seen anything.
“After Arthur disappeared, Austen barely left the house. I think he was grieving. But I let him out one day in the morning and we haven’t seen him since.
“When Tom, the black cat belonging to my neighbour, went missing a week later, we thought we should call the police.
“There has been no sighting of any of them but if they’d have been hit, someone would have alerted us.
“It all just seems very odd. I can’t help but wonder if it’s something very sordid and strange.”
Jackie Schmidt, the owner of Tom, said the disappearances were “a complete mystery.”
“It is as if they have just vanished into thin air,” she said,
“There are loads of cats in our village but it is only the black ones which have disappeared.”
Jane Parlour, a farmer living down the road in Dalton-on-Tees, saw one of Mrs Boyd’s posters and contacted her to say two of her black cats had also uncharacteristically disappeared.
Both reappeared several days later but Mrs Parlour, who has several other cats but only two who are black, said they did not appear to have been injured or sleeping rough and she was baffled as to where they had been.
Mrs Parlour said she knew of two other black cats from Dalton which were also missing.
“It is very strange, they are all particularly well looked after and from good homes.”
North Yorkshire Police confirmed they were investigating.
A spokeswoman said: “Police have received reports of a number of black cats going missing from Croft and Dalton.
“Officers are working to establish the full circumstances.”
In the mid 14th Century, black cats became linked with the devil and many were killed during the Black Death pandemic.
In the 16th century they became associated with witches because many of the women who were tortured to death for practicing witchcraft kept cats as companions.
In UK folklore, black cats symbolise good luck but charities say they are much harder to house that any other cats.