myths black cats

Black cat superstition

The history behind the folklore surrounding these beautiful cats.

Black cats have had a bad rap for centuries, with many myths and legends painting them in a negative light that have stuck with them to this day.

Superstitions like a black cat crossing your path means bad luck are well known. But just where did this all come from?

Black cats and witches

Cats have a long history with humans and, up until the Middle Ages in Europe, this relationship remained mostly positive. 

This all changed with the hysteria surrounding witches. Often, cats were cared for by single women who were then accused of witchcraft. These cats, being stray, were often black cats. People believed that these felines were witches that had been reincarnated or, indeed, were helping witches with their evil deeds. 

Unfortunately, this sometimes meant that black cats suffered the same fate as their owners who were accused of witchery, which often led to mass killings of these beautiful creatures.

Another theory is that, because of the cat’s black fur, they were seen as a sign of death and bad luck - much like the way people viewed black birds, such as ravens.

To this day, the superstition surrounding black cats remains.

Switching the superstition

Not every culture thinks badly of black cats though – some believe they bring good fortune.

In Japan, it is thought to be good luck if a black cat crosses your path and, in Germany it depends which direction a black cat walks in front of you. To those believing the myth, left to right means good times ahead, but right to left means the opposite.

Meanwhile, if a black cat appears on your doorstep in Scotland, tradition suggests you could be coming into money.

One thing is certain, sadly, unwanted and abandoned black cats are notoriously difficult to rehome thanks to superstition and myth so it seems they are the unlucky ones. In reality, the only supernatural powers black cats possess are ones of unconditional love and affection, just like any other cat.

— Page last updated 09/09/2020

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