We explore why black cats are associated with Halloween and address a few other superstitions about cats.
Black cats are associated with Halloween for a few reasons. Being black they have long be linked to witches and witchcraft. They were believed to be the companions of witches, their “Familiars”, their friends and helpers, and something the witch could turn into to avoid being caught in a human form. As such, during the witch trials many black cats were often burnt by fearful Christians, in fact likely more cats were killed than people. The Christians also had good reason to hate cats, they were often viewed as sacred beings to many earlier and pagan religions.
Witches, and so forth, never did torture, kill, sacrifice, or otherwise harm their black cats, as we are now frequently told. As their companions, why would they?
According to legend, in Lincolnshire, Great Britain, in the 1560’s a father and son were scared one dark night by a small creature running across their path. They threw stones at the animal and noticed an injured cat limp into the house of a woman who had been suspected of being a witch. The following day the woman was seen limping and with bruises about her. As such the idea that witches could take the shape of black cats took hold.
During the Salem witch hunts in America thousands of black cats were killed due to a suspected link to witches.
Paranoia had set in and many women, and cats, were burned at the stake, cats often being shut into baskets and thrown into the fire. In France thousands of cats were killed in this way until the 1630’s when King Louis XIII finally condemned the practice and put and end to it.
Now, because of their association with witches, black cats are commonly associated with Halloween. Often cut outs and pictures of them are put on peoples windows, often arched backs and glowing eyes.
Black cats are a bit more mysterious, they can sneak around in the shadows almost undetected. This makes them all the more spooky.
In many places black cats are held in superstition as bad luck. Particularly if it should cross ones path. These superstitions are common in North America and some European nations.
The tragic thing is that in our modern times people, whom you would think would be smart enough to hold superstitions as pure nonsense, still somehow see these cats as brining bad luck or misfortune.
There are always stories of concern about people torturing and sacrificing cats during October and particularly around Halloween. In all likelihood most of these are just urban legends, or of misguided individuals doing something because they ‘think’ it’s the cool thing do to, because it is well known that most people of alternative culture adore black cats and would not harm them.
Some Superstitions about Cats
- Chasing a black cat out of a home is bad luck, as the cat takes the good luck with it.
- In many places of the United Kingdom, seeing a white cat, particularly at night, or having a white cat cross your path, is considered bad luck.
- A cat who washes behind its ears will bring rain.
- If a cat washes its face in the front room, company is coming.
- If you kick a cat you will get rheumatism
Cats who are Good Luck
- On the Yorkshire coast of Britain, black cats kept in fishermen’s home will bring his safe return.
- A cat at a wedding brings good luck.
- A cat sneezing is good luck.
- In Japan a cat with its left paw raised is considered lucky, and is the shape of many piggy banks as the result.
- Polydactly cats, those cats will extra toes, are considered lucky.
Published in: Pets