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Origins of Black Cat Superstitions! by Stephanie Brozo

Cats were domesticated over 10,000 years ago in the Middle East, and later became the center of Egyptian worship! Cats were worshipped by the Egyptians and honored with jewels and other treasures because of their…

  • Hunting abilities against snakes and other vermin
  • Poise
  • Grace
  • Beauty

For a few hundred years, black cats have become a kind of superstition. Some superstitions are bad, and some are good. In the spirit of Halloween, we ask, why have black cats become associated in peoples’ minds with witches, bad luck and evil spirits?

  • The fear of black cats first arose in Europe in the Middle Ages. As their numbers grew within the cities, they were seen as pests.
  • Cats are nocturnal and roam at night; thus, their agile movements and eyes that “glowed” at night became the image of darkness, mystery, and evil.
  • When a cat would find shelter with an older woman living alone, the cat became a source of comfort and companionship (as they do to us all!) If someone mistreated her cat, the woman might very well curse that person! If that person then became ill, the “witch” and her cat were blamed.
  • If a black cat walked into the room of an ill person, and the person later died, it was blamed on the cat’s powers.
  • If a black cat crossed a person’s path without harming them, this indicated that the person was then protected by the devil! To reverse the “bad luck,” it was said you should walk in a circle, then go backward across the spot where you crossed paths with the cat, and count to thirteen. Whew!
  • Freya, the goddess of love and fertility, rode a chariot that was pulled by two black cats. The cats were turned into swift black horses, possessed by the Devil. After serving Freya for seven years, the cats were rewarded by being turned into witches, disguised as black cats.

Superstitions around black cats have lasted over hundreds of years! Unfortunately, many black cats are given up to humane societies. As silly as it may seem, sometimes these beautiful animals are relinquished based upon these silly superstitions!

If you own a black cat, never fear! Some people find the presence of a black cat to be a positive superstition, too. Read on!

  • In Britain, wives of fishermen believe that their husbands will return safely if a black cat is kept in the house.
  • A black cat in the audience on opening night foretells a successful play.
  • According to local superstition in the south of France, black cats bring good luck to owners who feed them well and treat them with respect.
  • English sailors believed that keeping black cats happy would ensure fair weather when they went to sea.
  • To cure a stye on the eyelid, rub it with the tail of a black cat. (Or that might just result in an eyeful of cat hair and an angry cat…)

Consider adopting a black cat for life! Visit the Animal Humane Society for more information!

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