Black Cats and Superstitions

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?

The Black Cat by certified su.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/certified_su/3620391225/

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.

Scary Cat by terren in Virginia.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8136496@N05/2979304933/

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.

The vet calls him Satan...I wonder why? by *~Dawn~*.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturesdawn/1278242661/

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.

Suggested Reading

Black Cats and Society

Unique Cat Breeds

Curious Cats

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  1. Enjoyed this. I’m not superstitious but I like reading about it. I have a black cat. He’s the only other male in a household with seven females. He’s my buddy. We’re drowning in a sea of estogen.

  2. Interesting article. I used to have a black cat. His had a very bad temper, but he was my favorite.

  3. I don’t know if it is still true today, but when I was growing up people were advised to keep their black cats in on Devil’s night, as they were often tortured or kill on the night before Halloween.

    My mother use to go out around the neighborhood and warn neighbors to make sure the cats were safe, and if she did not know who owned a cat and she came across a black one she would bring it home for the night.

    I remember two or three times, when we had several black cats as temporary house guests for that evening.

  4. Martie – I know many shelters do not adopt cats, particularly black ones right before Halloween..although its unknown how many sacrafices of kitties actually take place, probably more urban legend than fact, but i can see where people might want to acquire a cat just for having it at a party…

  5. Still, people are living in a stone age I guess… Those who are superstitious I don’t rate them as educated people. I liked your article. And I love Cats!

  6. I always thought that whether or not you consider a black cat lucky simply reflects whether or not you like cats as a rule. Although I knew some of this already, there were some stories in here I hadn’t heard before. Interesting piece, as always.,

  7. Ugh just thinking about black cats freaks me out. Great article though

  8. interesting article. It reminded me of what my father once told us “Never bring home a black cat”. It will bring bad luck. so through the years, whenever we have a cat, we see to it that it isn’t black.

  9. If you have to have a cat….make it a black one!! Nice article, B!!

  10. I love reading about all the old superstition. It’s fun to think about.

  11. I love black cats, their hair does not show on my black clothing. Of course the closest we have now is one black and white one and one orange and black one.

  12. You know a black cat is just a cat with black fur. Loved this article. Superstitions are strange and how they start even stranger. Good write.

  13. I not superstitious. I don’t have cats only dogs but I love your article.

  14. I enjoyed your article. Anytime I see a black cat, I hope that it doesn’t come near me. LOL!

  15. all these people who are superstitous about the Black Cat being bringing bad luck, are the ones who bring ON the bad luck. Silly people.
    Damn those who brought the superstition into practise.

    Nice article nevertheless :) I quite like it when a black cat crosses my path :)

  16. All these people who are superstitous about the Black Cat being bringing bad luck, are the ones who bring ON the bad luck. Silly people!
    Damn those who brought the superstition into practise.

    Nice article nevertheless :) I quite like it when a black cat crosses my path :)

  17. I have a lovely black kitten of eight months old and so I am into reading about black cats at the moment. Thank you for all the fascinating facts in the article.

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