I own a black cat. Love her. I can’t ever see her as devilish or evil. And yet, black cats are in the United States considered bad luck if one crosses your path. Plus they are associated with witches around Halloween. What started this for our furry black felines?
These obsidian felines were not always feared or a part of superstitious lore. Dating back as far as 3000 BC in Egypt, cats of all colors, including black ones, were held in high esteem. To kill one was considered a capital crime. One of their goddesses had a cat head, Bast.
The Nordic goddess, Freya was also a fierce warrior as shared with us by Ethan S. One of the many names by which she was known was the Mistress of the Cats, and it was said that the chariot in which she sat was drawn by a pairs of great cats with fur blacker than the midnight sky.
Then around medieval times, cats taken care of by old women who practiced healing and lived alone were considered familiars if the old woman (and sometimes man) were accused of witchcraft and convicted, burned at the stake. As for why particularly black cats, it seem to superstitious people, once the cat went out into the dark of night they appeared to disappear, except for their yellow or green eyes. The same would go for black dogs too. Of course, we know that the animal having black fur and the night being pitch black, well, yeah, they seemed to vanish. Plus black cats born in May seemed to be strongly associated with witchcraft and were often drowned. It is bad luck to discuss family matters when a black cat is present, lest it be a witch in disguise.
Evil omens and harboring the ability to change into human shape to act as a spy or messenger for witches or demons are some of the mostly widely known legends of black cats (in the US). When settlers arrived in the Americas, they already had a deepening suspicion of anything associated with the devil. Due to the sisterhood of witch and black cat, anyone caught with a black cat was severely punished or even killed. Similar superstitions led people to kill black cats during the Middle Ages, increasing the rat population and the spread of the bubonic plague.
A legend in Wales tells about one black cat. When people arrived in this town that had been ravaged by the Black Plague, the only living creature they found was a single black cat. The black cat is now the traditional mascot of Kidwelly!
In Great Britain and in Ireland, black cats are considered good luck. One way this might be so, English monarch Charles I held a belief that when his treasured black cat passed, he claimed that his luck was gone and he was arrested the very next day and charged with high treason. Also, in the UK, a black cat crossing your patch is a sign of good luck.
Some bad luck a black cat might deliver:
If you are driving and a black cat crosses in front of you, you should turn your car around or receive bad luck.
The gambling world holds the belief that as you are driving to a casino, if a black cat runs across your road or path, you should not go to the casino. Most players believe that black cats bring bad luck.
Crossing paths of a person is considered an omen of misfortune and death—kind of like the banshee’s scream heralds death for the person who hears it. Things are a bit more complicated in Germany. In Germany though, if a black cat crosses a person’s path from right to left, that is a bad omen, and yet, if done from left to right, the cat is granting favorable times.
Pirates in the 19th Century believed that if a black cat walks towards someone, that person will have bad luck. But if it walks away from someone, that will bring good luck to that person. If a black cat walks onto a ship and then walks off it, the ship is doomed to sink on its next trip.
Sailors often sought out a black cat to become a ship’s cat, as it brought good luck. Fishermen’s wives kept black cats at home in the hope that they would be able to use their influence to protect their husbands while at sea.
In Japan, black manekineko (beckoning cats) are a wish for good health.
Dreaming of a black cat us considered lucky for the dreamer.
Black cats protect their human’s house from evil spirits, and it is said, take away the bad energy in the house.
From Scottish lore, a strange black cat on a porch brings prosperity to the owner.
It is believed that a lady who owns a black cat will have many suitors. So, for those looking for a boyfriend, get a black cat!
Not just black cats, but all:
Cats should never be bought with money. Doing so means they will be bad mousers. (Shelters looking to get their cats adopted, this might be a good ploy to use.)