Black Cat Superstitions and Their Origins

black-cat-superstitions

 

Black cats have played a major role in superstitions, folklore and mythology for centuries. In the Middle Ages, black cats were believed to be witches’ familiars, and many even believed that black cats were reincarnated witches or messengers of witches or demons. The association of black cats with witches has become so ingrained in our culture that they’ve become synonymous with Halloween.

The cat wasn’t associated with witchcraft until sometime in the 16th century. A popular British legend claims that in the 1560’s, a father and son were frightened by a small creature darting across their path on a moonless night. After throwing stones after the creature, they saw that it was an injured black cat dart out of a crawl space and into the home of a woman suspected to be a witch. When the father and son saw the woman on the street the next day, the woman walked with a limp and had a bruised and bandaged face and arm. From that day on, all black cats were suspected of being witches, and apparently, the legend held. This notion of witches transforming themselves into black cats became a mainstay of belief during the Salem witch hunts in America.

Interestingly, the folklore surrounding black cats varies from culture to culture. In Britain and Japan, having a black cat cross your path is considered good luck; in the United States and several European countries, having a black cat walk by is considered bad luck. It even seems to matter from which direction the black cat comes from: In Germany, some believe that black cats crossing a person’s path from right to left is a bad omen, but from left to right brings good luck.

Black cats are said to bring good luck to sailors, whereas most gamblers believe that when a black cat crosses a player’s path, they should not go to the casino.

Other black cat superstitions include the belief that having a black cat turn his back on your brings bad luck, while having a black cat greet you at the door brings good luck. Meeting a black cat early in the morning is said to bring bad luck, but meeting three black cats in succession is said to bring good fortune.

Thankfully, despite all of these superstitions, black cats have a large, loyal following of people who appreciate these sleek, gorgeous creatures in all their beauty.

If you are owned by one of these black beauties, we’d love it if you would share your pictures on our Facebook page.

This article was first published on Answers.com and is republished with permission.

16 Comments on Black Cat Superstitions and Their Origins

  1. kunucats
    November 16, 2016 at 6:21 am (3 years ago)

    Black cats are wonderful. I’ve had many during my life.

    Reply
  2. Lauren
    August 19, 2015 at 12:44 pm (4 years ago)

    Aloha Ingrid! I hope you’re doing well! While I’ve never had a black cat before, my one Persian, Tai’s fur was black on his back and tail and most of his face, with his tummy and paws being white. I’ve always loved black cats! I’ve never believed those superstitions about them. My favorite fictional ones are Binx from Hocus Pocus and Salem from Sabrina! Then there’s Bagheera from Disney’s Jungle Book! I love that panther! Throughout my life, I’ve always found black cats to be loving, adorable and outgoing kitties. I almost adopted one so Rajah could have a playmate, but another Ohana came and took him home. He was such a cutie! He was all black with the most beautiful bright blue eyes. If I had had adopted him, I would have named him Kenai after Brother Bear. But I’m glad he found a good home. I have Rajah and I wouldn’t trade him for anything. When I get a bigger place, I might try adopting one more. Are bombays cuddle bugs?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 19, 2015 at 1:15 pm (4 years ago)

      Bombays do have a reputation for being very affectionate, Lauren.

      Reply
  3. monica ackerman
    August 18, 2015 at 2:28 pm (4 years ago)

    My black Chelsea is the most affectionate and intelligent cats I know. I keep telling her she could have been a circus cat if I had the energy and time to train her. As it is she follows hand signals and verbal signals for “down, get off of there, up, go away I’m eating, and (most importantly) come here.” I would like to know how all those superstitions really started and why black cats and not black dogs or tabby cats got the bad reputation. Anyone?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 18, 2015 at 4:06 pm (4 years ago)

      That’s an interesting question, Monica! I did not come across a specific answer in my research for this article, but I’m guessing it goes back to black cats being associated with witches and black magic.

      Reply
  4. Gail Nadeau
    August 17, 2015 at 11:59 pm (4 years ago)

    I have two black cats that look almost identical except that one is a “stealth” torti with lots of “tude” and was labelled by the vet as “stray cat with short fuse.” Misha is very loving, but always on her own terms, and she will not hesitate to chomp on you if you don’t abide by her rules.

    Willow, on the other hand is very mellow and gentle.

    Since these two girls absolutely hate each other, I make sure that Willow wears a “Beastie Band” in order to distinguish her from Misha. If they ever get into a conflict, I can tell right away which cat is safe to pick up and remove from the battleground without my needing to worry that I’ll end up in worse shape than either of them.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 18, 2015 at 6:14 am (4 years ago)

      “Stray cat with short fuse” – I love it.

      Reply
  5. Rudolph.A.Furtado
    August 17, 2015 at 10:29 pm (4 years ago)

    Why do the armed forces or elite private “Bodyguard companies” name themselves “BLACK CATS” if black cats are considered unlucky by some cultures ? I personally find the “PURE BLACK” and “PURE WHITE” cats the most beautiful among the cat species.

    Reply
  6. cindar
    August 17, 2015 at 5:35 pm (4 years ago)

    i prefer to have black cat than other colors. Black cat look much stronger and active, besides i can get black cat cheaply in pet shop since not all people like this color very much. however, i also have white cat, but he was very lazy

    Reply
  7. Elaine Faber
    August 17, 2015 at 11:00 am (4 years ago)

    Black cats are wonderful. I’ve had many during my life. Currently, Boots, my black and white tuxedo cat is the muse for the cat in my cat mystery novels. Thanks for promoting beautiful black cats.

    Reply
  8. Sue Brandes
    August 17, 2015 at 9:48 am (4 years ago)

    I’ve had 2 black cats and they were the most friendly and loving cats.

    Reply
  9. Marilia
    August 17, 2015 at 9:19 am (4 years ago)

    My black cat is so much special and cute. Ebano have only three legs, and is a super fast boy, like others four-legged cats.
    Happy Black Cat Appreciation Day for all black cats!

    Reply
  10. Laura & her 7 cats
    August 17, 2015 at 8:25 am (4 years ago)

    I have 7 cats, 2 are solid black and 1 is a tuxedo. I’ve always found our black cats to be super smart! As a shelter volunteer & feline enrichment behavior volunteer, we can generally peg personalities by color traits and black cats are smart, affectionate, loving, playful–not to mention gorgeous!

    Reply
  11. Steven Howard
    August 17, 2015 at 8:19 am (4 years ago)

    I’ve had black or tuxedo cats for most of my life. They tend to be loving, goofy, and really really weird. They all share goofiness.

    Reply
  12. Fur Everywhere
    August 17, 2015 at 7:19 am (4 years ago)

    All of the superstitions surrounding black cats are interesting. I’m thankful that black cats have loyal fans. I do wish more people would see their beauty, though. Black kitties, just like any other colored kitties, have unique personalities, are beautiful, and make wonderful companions.

    Reply
  13. NB
    August 17, 2015 at 7:16 am (4 years ago)

    It’s so sad, I volunteer for a rescue, and I have many black cats that I had fosters as kittens, but they haven’t been adopted, and now they are adults, even harder to adopt out. I love them, and have several of my own.

    Reply

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