Black Cats & Halloween

October is all about Halloween and what screams (pardon the pun) more about Halloween than black cats.  I wanted to give you some fun facts about the seemingly “unlucky” beautiful creatures known as black cats and the superstitions surrounding them.

The folklore surrounding black cats varies from country to country and culture to culture.  In Scotland, the arrival of a strange black cat to a home signifies prosperity.  In Celtic mythology, a fairy names the Cat Sith takes the form of a black cat.  In Asia and England, black cats are considered lucky and lady who owns a black cat will have many suitors.

However, the black cat superstitions began in Western history.  Black cats were looked at as evil omens and suspected of being witch familiars.  This brought about the belief that blacks were a symbol of bad luck.  If a black cat crosses your path, it was considered an omen of misfortune and even death.  Germany takes it a step farther in believing that if a black cat crosses your path from right to left,  this is a bad omen but if the black cat crosses from left to right, the cat is granting luck.

When the pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock, they brought (along with a devout faith in the Bible) a view that anything deemed of Satan was viewed as evil.  Unfortunately, the black cat fell under this suspicion.  Anyone caught with a black cat would be severely punished.  These same beliefs led to the killing of black cats in the Middle Ages.  Midsummer bonfires were held as a large scale massacre of “satanic” cats.

However, sometimes the supernatural powers of the Black Cat were viewed as something positive.  Sailors wanted a black cat as the “ship’s cat” in order to bring good luck.  Fisherman’s wives would keep black cats at home in order to use their power to protect their husbands at sea.

In ancient Egypt, all cats were worshiped and considered sacred.  Mainly, the black cat was found to be especially sacred, which was attributed to the Egyptian cat goddess “Bast”.  Household in Egypt believed that having a black cat would increase favor with goddess and bring good fortune to the home.

Unfortunately some of the negative beliefs still exist in modern times.  Black cats have been found to have the lowest adoption rate in American animal shelters.  Some shelters even suspend black cat adoption in the month of October due to the fear of the cats being tortured, killed, or used a “live” decorations.

Please remember that cats, no matter the color, are still cats.  Cats make wonderful pets and are independent enough that you have to “earn” their adoration and affection.  It seems that they have never forgotten that at one time they were worshiped.  After all, it’s not easy being King.  Just ask Four.  He has his loyal subjects and his own personal staff.  It’s tough but he makes it look easy.