Black Cats - Myths and Facts

Black cats have been the subject of much debate, fear and superstition for centuries.

Depending on the part of the world you lived in, and the time in history in which you lived, they could be associated with evil, demons, illness, prosperity, luck... even a storm at sea.



Today, superstitions about these cats still remain, and unfortunately they sometimes become the objects of fear, or even abuse, as a result. On this page I'll tell you about some of the myths and superstitions, past and present.

If you have any fears or misgivings about these cats, I hope I can dispel them and persuade you they are just as loving and adorable as any other color cat.


Witches

The color black was (and still is, to an extent) associated with mystery, darkness and evil. Cats that were totally or mainly black were therefore often associated with witches. As a result, many a poor woman was burnt at the stake or drowned in the local river in the Middle Ages in Britain, her pet cat along with her.

Some people believed these cats were demons - or a form of the devil - in disguise, so the woman who owned the cat must therefore be a witch.

Other people believed that the cats aided witches in performing black magic. Some thought they were actually witches in disguise, and even believed they could fly on a broom!

As ludicrous as this now sounds, black kitties still suffer today in some parts of the world - especially around Halloween - because of hangovers from these ancient superstitions that unfortunately haven't quite managed to die.

In some countries, rescue shelters won't re-home cats that are black (or mostly black) a few weeks before or after Halloween, as some people will get them just to harm them.


Other Beliefs and Superstitions

In addition to the witch association, the black cat is the subject of many more curious beliefs, which are sometimes completely different depending which part of the world you're in...

In ancient times, Druids believed these cats were humans, reincarnated as cats as a punishment for evil deeds they'd committed in a past life.

In the Middle Ages in Germany it was believed that if a black cat jumped on the bed of a sick person, then the person would die. In Finland, they were believed to carry the souls of the dead to the afterlife.

In 18th and 19th century England, fishermen's wives kept these cats because they believed this helped to keep their husbands safe at sea. If one ran in front of a sailor as he walked up a pier, this would bring him good luck. However, if it crossed his path, it meant bad luck.

At this time, cats were carried on ships to keep rats and mice at bay. If a black cat was thrown, or accidentally fell overboard, this was believed to bring bad luck in the form of a terrible storm.

Interestingly, in England, Scotland and Australia today, a black cat crossing your path is supposed to be lucky. But if you live in Ireland, most of the rest of Europe, India or America it's meant to be bad luck!


Finally - the Facts!

photo of halloween lantern with black cat silhouette

The history of these cats is fascinating but unfortunately also often tragic. The truth about these kitties is that they are no different to any other cats, and they make just as good pets.

For what it's worth, I've dealt with so many black cats in my lifetime that if they brought bad luck I reckon I'd be totally destitute by now!

I hope I've illustrated, through the huge disparity in opinion across the world today and the irrational beliefs of the past, that there's no evidence to back up any of the superstitions that have surrounded these cats for so long.

Unfortunately, black kitties find it harder than others to be re-homed from animal shelters in many countries because of their old associations with evil and bad luck.

If you can find it in your heart to give one of these cats a loving home, you'll be doing him a massive favor and helping to bring the world's thinking on this subject into the 21st century where it belongs.



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