Black Cats & Superstitions

Black Cats, Beliefs & Superstitions.

Black cats are more likely to be overlooked by potential owners, and the least likely to be adopted from a shelter compared to their more colorful feline counterparts. Could this have something to do with various beliefs that have arisen over the centuries with regards to the ebony moggy?

In American culture, black cats have become inextricably associated with witches and Halloween. However, the idea that black cats are bad luck isn’t universal; some cultures believe that they bring good fortune. For example, unlike much of the western world, Japanese culture sees a black cat crossing your path as a good omen. In fact, these dusky felines are seen as a sign of wealth, prosperity & symbols of good blessings to come. For single women especially, they are cherished for attracting fine, potential suitors. For stage directors, seeing a black cat in opening night in your theatre means your play will have a long & successful run.

So, the ebony monochrome moggy is generally considered as a good omen in Asia. 

Black Cats, Beliefs & Superstitions

Egyptian Goddess Bastet.

In cultures such as ancient Egypt, black cats were respected not only due to their usefulness as pest controllers, but also the fact that they were thought to bring good fortune to those who owned them. Perhaps the best known of the ancient Egyptian Goddesses is Bastet, who is depicted with the body of a woman and the head of a black domestic cat. She is the protector & nurturer of the family, fertility & childbirth. So, in ancient Egypt black cats were revered as representative of a divine deity.

Goddess Bastet

Witches & Broomsticks.

In the middle Ages in Europe, black cats were often associated with witches, a belief that has spread to the USA with the first. Where did it all start?

Well, the Catholic Church linked cats to Satan as early as the 13th century. No one knows exactly why, but this association between Satan and felines eventually became narrowed down to dark cats specifically. In medieval Europe they believed that the devil and witches were capable of taking the form of black cats. Today, the dusky feline is portrayed on all sorts of decorative items at Halloween, usually accompanied by witches. Given this commonly held belief, it’s not surprising that a superstition arose that crossing paths with a dark cat was a bad omen: it might well be on a mission from a witch – or even the devil in disguise!

One source of income for the church came from fearful peasants who would pay a priest to bless them and rid them of any potential curse after having crossed paths with an ebony moggy. This fear would have been a nice little earner for the church, and therefore the lowly God-fearing peasant would hardly have been disabused of their fears by the clergy!

Sìth – Celtic Myth.

A legend existed in Celtic mythology about a creature called the Cat Sìth. This creature was said to resemble a large black cat with a white spot on its chest. According to legend, by passing over a corpse before the burial the Cat Sìth could steal a person’s soul before the gods could claim it. Therefore, watches were organized to keep the mythical creature away from the corpses.

Good Or Bad?

One of the oldest and most enduring of superstitions surrounding the dusky feline is the myth that crossing paths with one will bring bad fortune. Well, it’s not black or white. What you believe depends on where you’re from.

Crossing paths with a black cat is good luck if you live in:

  • Germany: When a black cat crosses from left to right it means good luck is coming your way.
  • Italy: A sneezing black cat signals good luck to those living in Italy.
  • Japan
  • Latvia: If black kittens are found in the silo they believe that they will have a good harvest courtesy of a spirit called Rungis.
  • Scotland: A black cat sitting on your porch means that riches will be coming to you.
  • United Kingdom

Crossing paths with a black cat is bad luck if you live in:

  • China: A black cat symbolizes famine and poverty to come.
  • Czech Republic
  • Germany: When a black cat crosses from left to right it means good luck is coming your way.
  • Italy: If a black cat sits on the bed of a sick person death will shortly follow.
  • India
  • Ireland: If a black cat crosses your path in the moonlight it means there is going to be an epidemic of sickness.
  • Romania

Black Cats Protect Fishermen At Sea.

Black Cats & Superstitions

Sailors are known to be very superstitious. British and Irish sailors believe that to have a black cat on board is lucky, since they were believed to have magical powers that would protect ships from unfavorable weather conditions. Their wives often kept black cats at home, trusting they would use their powers to protect their spouses and bring them safely back home to them.

Final Thought.

Celebrate the beautiful monochrome moggy, and show some extra love on National Black Cat Day on 27 October every year. I don’t view the black cat as an evil supernatural force, more so as Bastet, a deity worthy of worship!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.