The Detroit Post
Friday, 03 December, 2021

Why Are Black Cats Feared

Danielle Fletcher
• Friday, 23 October, 2020
• 11 min read

Although our logical brain may scoff at superstitions in public they can be ingrained in our culture. When the Egyptians began practicing agriculture, they welcomed the hunting abilities of cats.

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After all, no one else could catch as many mice and rats as cats could; so people claimed these small predators had supernatural powers. After all, if you hurt a cat and faced the death penalty for doing so, fear would be a reasonable reaction.

As time passed and mythologies evolved, she became associated with witches, witchcraft, magic, and ghosts. Although well domesticated by the medieval era, because cats were associated with witches (not just in Greece but by then throughout Europe) they had become a sign of bad luck; especially black cats.

While many of these stories seem funny today, long ago they were the cause of many a black cat’s execution. In Italy centuries ago, if a black cat jumped on the bed of a sick person, it was considered to be a death omen.

In Scotland, a black cat observed at a wake or funeral meant someone attending would soon die. In America, seeing a black cat in your dreams also meant death, but this time of a family member.

In many cultures, a black cat walking across your path means bad luck; even today people believe this. In more recent times, in England and Scotland, a black cat appearing porch meant good luck was in your future.

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Today, the owners of black cats will attest to their feline companions’ wonderful, affectionate natures. Liz shares her home with three English Shepherds: Bones, Hero, and Seven, as well as one confident and bossy orange tabby cat, Kirk.

Every year when people begin putting out their Halloween decorations, and start dressing their homes for Samoan, inevitably the image of the black cat comes up. Two goddesses in the Egyptian pantheon were even portrayed as cat-like- Bast and Mehmet, and were worshiped as long ago as 3000 b.c.e.

Many spooky Southern folktales like the Black Cat’s Message and Wait Until Emmett Comes feature supernatural black cats who are thought to be witches or demons in disguise. Most people are far less superstitious today than they were in the Middle Ages, but the black cat remains part of our late October decor.

2 In Colonial America, Scottish immigrants believed that a black cat entering a wake was bad luck, and could indicate the death of a family member. 6 If you find a single white hair on your otherwise- black cat, it’s a good omen.

7 In England’s border countries and southern Scotland, a strange black cat on the front porch brings good fortune. In the United States, it seems that black cats have been synonymous with bad luck for a great number of years.

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In the Middle Ages before the Black Death of 1348 CE, the main purpose of cats was to kill mice. It was a relationship built on mutual understanding that the cats kept rodents away so their presence was generally accepted.

But as death spread rampantly in Europe due to the Bubonic Plague, cats became intensely feared and almost all were exterminated. The thought was that these cats were somehow related to the devil, and many religious people of this time feared them with passion.

Italians during this time believed that if a person fell in and a black cat were to lay on their bed, surely they would die. In colonial Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693, the Salem witch trials instilled fear in the hearts of many.

Due to this intense terror and speculation of the God-fearing Puritans, many black cats were executed during the Salem witch trials. And because of this reason, many shelters will withhold adopting out black cats that come into their care until after the Halloween season ends.

And some simply view it as a sign of bad luck and will not move forward to the path which has been crossed by the black cat. It is true that black cats can sometimes be difficult to photograph, so this can affect their likeliness of being adopted strictly in terms of that.

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So, perhaps, their stigma of bad luck helps them to instantly win the hearts of potential adopters. Across the globe, these mini panthers are symbols of good luck Forget everything negative that you’ve heard surrounding black cats.

Black cats pop up frighteningly frequently in all sorts of culturally based bits of folklore, and though much of their mythos is actually of the positive variety, Western tradition has so maligned the critters that black cats as bad luck have become something of a given in various circles (at least, that’s what it looks like once Halloween decorations start popping up, “scaredy-cats and all). It’s not known exactly how and why cats became associated with the Devil in the Middle Ages, but the belief was so persistent that they were all but exterminated during the Black Death pandemic around 1348 CE.

Scottish Folklore includes a fairy known as the Cat With, a giant black cat (with a small white spot on his chest) who was believed to have the ability to steal a dead person’s soul before the gods could claim it. That belief led to the creation of night-and-day watches called the “Late Wake” to guard bodies just before burial.

The Scottish also employed such tried and true methods as “using catnip” and “jumping around a lot” to scare off potential Cat With soul-stealers. It didn’t help matters that the Puritan pilgrims who helped populate Salem, Massachusetts were devout Bible believers, and the combination of a major fear of anything Devil-related (dating back to the Middle Ages) and the lingering belief that black cats were a classic part of witch lifestyles was a lethal one.

Most black cats also come with golden yellow eyes, thanks to the high melanin pigment content in their bodies. The belief in the power of black cats is so strong that they’re still given as gifts to brides in the English Midlands in order to help bless new nuptials.

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The Japanese also honor black cats as symbols of good luck, and they are viewed as particularly important to single women, as having a black cat is believed to lure in many fine suitors. Spread the good word of inky felines and their more positive associations during the autumn holiday, you can also honor the animals come summer, celebrating Black Cat Appreciation Day” every August 17th.

But over the centuries, these dark, handsome, and friendly felines have endured the stigma of cultural and historical myths, superstitions, and tales that make them either revered or feared. Luckily, recent data shows that it's a myth that black cats are adopted less frequently than cats of other colors, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

You could even decide it’s auspicious if you find one of these regal creatures crossing your path at any time during the day or night. If you're spooked when you see a black cat, it’s probably from medieval folklore that continues to shroud the reputation of these dignified kitties.

It's said that the story began when a black cat was seen running into a house thought to be inhabited by a witch. This fear of black cats appears to stem from medieval times when an animal with dark feathers or fur, including crows and ravens, signaled death.

Another family member is bound to die if you spot a black cat during a funeral procession. In Ancient Egypt, black cats were held in the highest esteem because they resembled Basket, the cat-headed Egyptian goddess of home, fertility, and protection from disease.

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In parts of England, a bride will have luck in her marriage if she receives a black cat as a gift. In Europe, sailors will have a safe journey if they bring along a black cat on the ship.

In other cultures around the world, it’s a sign of good luck if you dream about a black cat, see one walking towards you, or if you happen to find a stray white hair on its gleaming ebony fur. I step on cracks in the sidewalk, I walk under ladders without a thought, and as a child I had a black cat.

Somewhere down the line, black cats became a Halloween-favorite and a symbol of bad luck, as many people have come to believe that a black cat crossing your path is an omen of misfortune and even death! In the earliest days of history, cats were large, carnivorous creatures that evidence suggests humans often had to fend off in order to survive.

Unlike our wolf friends, humans did not attempt to domesticate these dangerous creatures until much later; and our fear is what kept us alive and away from them. A folklore spread about a man and his son who came across a black cat, which they began to toss rocks at.

Other theories suggest that during this time, people started to see black cats as a sign of death and bad luck simply because of their black fur, just like ravens and crows. Sadly, mass killings of black cats spread across Europe as people tried to rid the streets of these bad omens.

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In certain parts of 19th century Europe, black cat sightings were actually considered good omens. The Irish believed that a black cat on your porch was good luck, and in Japan black cats are similarly revered as symbols of prosperity.

Luckily for our feline friends, these bad superstitions have virtually vanished and black cats are now a part of many families across the world. Learn the history of black cats and how they became Halloween icons, where they are considered a symbol of good fortune, and how their genes may, one day, help prevent certain diseases in humans.

Juliaorige / Apixaban / CC0 Public Domain Forget the stereotypical depiction of the perpetually single cat lady. In Great Britain’s English Midlands, a black cat is the ideal wedding gift; they’re believed to bring good luck and happiness to the bride.

Premiere / Apixaban / CC0 Public Domain Not only can black cats better your love life, but they can amp up your good luck and improve your finances, too. Henrikveres / Apixaban / CC0 Public Domain Researchers at the National Institutes of Health discovered that the genetic mutations that cause cats to have black coats may offer them some protection from diseases.

Folks have become highly superstitious regarding these felines, and there is absolutely no truth behind this fear. These facts are absolutely fascinating, and go to show that they deserve our love, just like any other pet.


Let us know in the comments and please SHARE with your fellow cat loving friends on Facebook. Flickr / headed In the Middle Ages, they were associated with witchcraft, due to the fact that solitary, elderly women tended to care for cats.

Giphy In most parts of England and Ireland, a black cat crossing your path is actually considered to be good luck. Grace Eire Shelters will not re-home black cats in the weeks before Halloween, as these beautiful animals are in danger during this time.

Because of the false belief that black cats are associated with witchcraft and other evil things, they're at risk for harm around the holiday. Flickr / Martin Their black fur can turn white with age, much like when humans go gray.

Giphy According to some studies, researchers have found that black cats could be more resilient to diseases, such as feline HIV, and have a stronger immune system overall. Flickr / headed Black Cat Awareness Day is on August 17 of every year.

Many shelters and rescue organizations will lower the adoption fees for their all- black felines in the hopes that more families will bring them home. Flickr / headed They are full of love, and there is absolutely no reason to overlook a black cat when you're trying to take a new feline companion into your home.


Those superstitious rumors are total malarkey, and I can personally guarantee that your black cat will make you so, so happy. Over the centuries, black cats have undeservedly been given a bad reputation, it all began in the Middle Ages when they were associated with so-called witches and were deemed unlucky.

In some cultures, people believed that these ‘witches’ could transform themselves into black cats to prowl the streets unnoticed. Ridiculous as it sounds, even today superstition still plays a part because black cats are the least likely to be adopted from rescue shelters.

So, to dispel all superstition and bad luck, here are 13 (and I choose that number wisely!) In ancient times the Egyptians worshiped them like gods, killing them was punishable by death.

In Scotland and Ireland when a black cat appears at your door it is a sign of prosperity. Sailors believed that black cats bought good fortune on a long voyage.

His Italian owner left him $13 million when she died, giving him a place in the Guinness World Records. Many celebrities have black cats, including George Clooney, Audrey Hepburn, Cher, Norman Reeds and John Lennon.

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