The Detroit Post
Wednesday, 08 December, 2021

Why Do They Say Black Cats Are Bad Luck

Ellen Grant
• Thursday, 08 October, 2020
• 9 min read

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.

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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. In many of the European countries where the felines are still seen as bad luck, it’s an awful omen when a black cat actually crosses your path.

It's not all bad luck In some legends, black cats are actually good luck, as is the case in Great Britain (though not Yorkshire!). 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.

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.

Thursday is Black Cat Appreciation Day, which is aimed at correcting the centuries-long string of bad publicity that black cats have had to endure, as well as celebrating them for the fantastic felines they truly are. Other people point to the Norse legend of Freya, the goddess of love and fertility, whose chariot was pulled by two black cats.

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Purportedly after serving Freya for seven years (a recurring number in luck / bad luck superstitions), the cats were rewarded for their service by being turned into witches. It is possible to trace at least one historical cat-hater: Pope Gregory IX, whose 1232 AD papal bull Vox in Rama was the “first official church document that condemns the black cat as an incarnation of Satan.” Things got worse for black cats from there.

There was one royal exception, though: King Charles I of England (1600-1649) owned a black cat he loved dearly, which he considered good luck. Cat-hating carried over with the Puritans into America, and the Salem Witch Trials cemented it as an everlasting part of witchcraft and cat lore.

So armed with your new knowledge, adopt away and rest easy knowing you’re doing your part to combat hundreds of years of nonsense superstition. “It’s completely culturally constructed and has no basis in anything,” says Dr. James Spell, director of the Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

In one of the stories, Zeus’s wife Hera transformed a servant named Carinthia into a black cat as punishment for interfering with her plan to delay the birth of Heracles. “There’s a long tradition in European witchcraft of associations between witches and animals, and that was very often a cat,” Spell says.

As fear and superstition spread throughout Europe, mass killings of black cats occurred. As far back as the Romans, people also interpreted chance encounters with animals as indicators of future events, Spell adds.

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Out of fear of abuse, some animal shelters will not adopt out black cats in the weeks leading up to the holiday, Spell says. Rather than feeding this myth and depriving black cats of the chance to find a new forever home, many shelters are simply extra cautious during the month of October.

Historically, in the UK and United States, black cats were believed to be evil and associated with witchcraft. Black cats aren’t only associated with bad luck and evil though, in some cultures they are celebrated and seen as a sign of good luck.

Pirates thought that if a black cat was walking in their direction, it was a sign of the bad luck that was to come. Superstition says that a woman with a black cat can expect to have many suitors, which means many a man keen to marry them.

It is also believed that a bride will have a happy married life if a black cat sneezes near her on her wedding day. I have personally had the good fortune to know two beautiful black cats, who crossed my path multiple times each day and brought nothing but joy and happiness.

They have no special ability to curse someone to have a bad day, and in a lot of cultures the black cat is actually good luck. In Babylonian and Hebrew folklore cats are compared to serpents coiled on your hearth.

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In the folklore of most European countries (except Ireland and Great Britain), a black cat crossing your path is considered to be an omen of bad luck. This ultimately was a primary cause of the wide spread of the Black Death or Plague (Bubonic Plague) in Europe because the rodent population boomed due to the natural predators of the rodents having been killed.

In Ireland some believe that if a black cat crosses your path in the moonlight it means that there will be an epidemic. However, in Scotland's folklore a strange black cat showing up on your doorstep is actually a sign of an unexpected windfall or upcoming prosperity.

In Indian and Romanian society the superstition that if a black cat crosses your path it means bad luck will occur to you is still a popular myth. The extensive witch-hunts of the past were not a part of these regions so it is unknown why this superstition developed there.

In America, having a black cat's bones is considered by some to give the bearer magical powers and good luck. Above all the black cat seems to be much maligned above all other animals as being a bearer of ill omen, even though some cultures consider them to be good luck or even sacred.

In any case black is not the most popular of colors for adoption at Humane Societies and Cat Rescues in the United States, whether it is due to this superstition or not. After all, some of our favorite characters have been black cats, such as Felix the Cat, Snowball II of The Simpsons, and Sylvester the tuxedo kitty.

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Black cat superstition has been a real phenomenon throughout history, and this has led to many misguided notions about them, especially in Medieval Europe. Although it’s speculation, the origin of black cat superstitions may stem from our prehistoric human ancestors.

Supposedly, the devil sent the black cat to assist in the witch’s evil deeds. Additionally, witches were able to turn themselves into black cats so that they could slink around in the shadows casting spells on unsuspecting people.

The mice spread a disease called the Bubonic Plague, and more than 25 million people died over the course of 5 years ( Still, very enmeshed in some unscientific beliefs, many people within these groups believed that witches and the devil lived among them.

Horrifically, black cats also suffered mass killings on Strove Tuesdays before Lent. Black cat superstitions had become cemented in American history, and the unfortunate mistreatment of black cats ensued.

Both witches and black cats are commonly used today to enhance the fear factor of Halloween. When the domestication of cats occurred in the Middle East and Egypt thousands of years ago, felines took on a very special meaning.

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Because cats provided a life-saving service of keeping royal food stocks safe from rats, mice, and other critters that caused diseases, felines earned a very high status among the Egyptians. As one of the most important Egyptian gods, Basket granted good fortune for people who housed and protected cats.

In fact, Egyptians’ love and respect for their cats were so strong, that owners would often mummify them after death. Some cultures in Europe also believed that if a black cat walked toward you, it was bringing good luck.

The Mani Nero cat statue sits inside almost all businesses with one paw up, waving in the good fortune. Many young, single women in Japan own black cats, because they believe it will bring in many suitors.

For example, early Christians at one time believed that statues of Roman gods were embodied with evil spirits. According to the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, Romans, like the Egyptians, had very high regard for cats and may have even revered them.

Fortunately, science has replaced superstition in most places around the world, and people now understand that there is no basis in any negative attitudes about black cats. Yet, even in our modern society, some people fear the black cat, and sadly, black cats still have a higher risk of mistreatment, especially around Halloween.

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From the medieval belief that they were all the pets of witches to a modern day fear that deems them unlucky to walk by, they ’ve been stuck with superstition for a long time. It’s true, in Japan black cats are considered hugely lucky, especially for the single ladies, who they supposedly bring many good suitors.

This myth also has roots in here in England; there’s lore stemming from the Midlands that says giving a bride a black cat on her wedding day will promise a lucky marriage. Having them on board was believed to ensure a safe journey and return, and the families of those at sea would often also keep them at home as a good omen for their loved ones.

Scotland has the right idea with a long-standing belief that a black cat suddenly appearing on your doorway is a sign of future prosperity. There are also rumors of the Norse goddess Freya being very much a cat person, and blessing farmers with good harvest if they fed the giant black cats who pulled her chariot.

Tyson fires 7 after probe into betting on virus tests Finally, someone is bringing light to the whole animal racism thing.

The raven which is a black bird takes Cherokee souls to heaven. My superstition is they're around you and such as you, they are going to handle you marvelous in any different case they are going to pass loopy and hiss at you.

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Angel food cake (white) is good, devil food cake (black) is bad, black for funerals white for weddings, a white lie is ok, the definition of white is holy, the definition of black is evil and unholy, the list goes on and on and on, the people that owned slaves controlled everything, why are people surprised. You're just as bad as that moron who said that black hole” is a racial slur.

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