Superstitions and Myths About The Black Cat
Black Cats have been associated with deities, witches and magic
For centuries. Cats have been worshipped, condemned,
Persecuted, have been thought of as having powers,
As being the omens of bad luck and being also a good
Part of the "mystery" surrounding the black cat comes
From the traditional interpretation of the color black.
Black is the color of the night, and of "evil." Black
Can also be a color of elegance or class (such as a
Black-tie only event, and black evening gowns.) Black
Can also represent ideas such as power, sexuality,
Sophistication, formality, wealth, mystery, fear, evil,
Unhappiness, depth, style, sadness, remorse, anger, and
Black can also represent a lack of color or emptiness.
It can also mean sorrow or mourning, in the Christian
Tradition of wearing black to funerals. Used by itself,
Black can repre sent bad luck or misfortune. Black also
Is the color of black magic.
Here are some of the various superstitions, beliefs,
And historical (fact or not) info about black cats:
* If a black cat crosses your path, you will have GOOD luck.
* Variations to this belief say that you must politely
Greet the cat OR stroke the cat 3 times to bring the good luck.
* If a black cat crosses your path, you will have bad luck.
* You can ward off the adversity by reversing your trail
By 12 steps.
(All depends on your point of view and the country you live
In which you may happen to believe)
* King Charles the first of England owned a black cat.
He believed this cat to be lucky and was so afraid of losing
It he had it guarded day and night. Coincidentally the cat
Died the very day before Oliver Cromwell's parliamentary
Troops came and arrested the king. Shortly after, King Charles
Was taken to the scaffold and behea ded.
* Thought to have nine lives, so aligned with the symbolism
Of nine, a lucky number
* The witches in Shakespeare's Macbeth calls her cat
* Some believe black cats are witches in disguise.
* Others believe black cats are witches familiars.
(Beings that aid witches in performing their craft.)
* Fisherman's wives kept black cats while their husbands
Went away to sea. They believed that the black cats would
Prevent danger from occurring to their husbands. These
Black cats were considered so valuable that they were
* Some believe that black cats carried demons.
* Some believe that black cats have special powers
One humorous myth about cats of any color, not just a black cat, is that they will spread the family gossip.
This is an old wives' tale sometimes heard in the Netherlands.
Sometimes cats are not allowed in the room when gossip is going on.
* Stroking the tail of a black cat will cure a sty in the eye
* To meet a black cat at midnight is to meet Satan, himself.
* Thirteen cats in a theater are bad luck.
* The "blackberry" cats are often born at the end of the
Blackberry season, which according to legend is the time
Of the year in which Satan was thrown out of heaven,
Landing on a blackberry bush which he then defiled with
His urine and spittle.
* In the Ozark Mountains of Tennessee and Arkansas, a
Girl not knowing what to answer to a marriage proposal
Would take three hairs from a cat's tail and put them
In a folded piece of paper, which she placed under her
Doorstep. She would answer according to whether the
Hairs formed an "N" or a "Y".
* A cat on a grave meant that the buried person's soul
Was in the possession of the Devil, and if two cats
Were fighting on a grave, this signified the Devil and
The defunct person's Guard ian Angel fighting for his/her soul.
* In the early 16th century, a visitor to an English
Home would always kiss the family cat. In Ireland, however,
A black cat passing in front of you by moonlight foretells
Death by an epidemic.
In the Ozark Mountains of Tennessee and Arkansas, when a girl received a proposal of marriage and was uncertain whether to accept, she took three hairs from a cat's tail and folded them in a paper, which she placed under the doorstep. Next morning, she carefully unfolded the paper to see if the the three hairs had formed themselves into a Y or N and replied to her suitor accordingly.
* Black cats became a Halloween symbol as it was believed
Spirits could return in the body of an animal and black
Cats were certainly the one of the most ominous. Witches
Used the black cat for her spirit companion and the cat
went from there.
* Pope Gregory IX denounced black cats as Satanic in
his 1233 Papal Bull 'Vox i n Rama' and this launched the
extermination of many cats, and subsequently thousands
of cats were burned alive in the cause of searching out
the devil. Tales of these witches' cats turning into mice,
dogs, bats and all sorts of creatures flourished during
the Middle Ages.
(which incidentally lead to a plague of rats, which decimated
the food supplies, carried disease, and played a role in
The Great Plagues)
* In the late 19th Century, folklorist Charles G. Leland
wrote about groups of women around Italy, known as streghe
ie. witches, who still worshipped the goddess Diana,
deity of the moon, and in this Italian tradition Leland
was writing about, was known as 'the Queen of witches'.
Her brother, who in classical mythology was Apollo, is
here called Lucifer, which though not without
references to Christian concepts, means 'light-bearer'.
In trying to trick Lucifer to conceive a son with her,
Diana takes the shape of a cat.
* The Celts believed that cats were magically humans
once. To kill a cat brings complete misfortune, while
to tread upon its tail is also considerate unfortunate,
but in a less degree.
* If a black cat suddenly abandons the house of its
masters, there will be a great disaster in that house soon.
* Seeing a black cat in your dream could represents bad
luck or a warming of something unfavorable may take
place in your life.
(If you see a white cat in your dream means you feel
great affection for someone. Seeing several cats in your
dream means that your partner is unfaithful. Dreaming of
a two colored cat means your feelings are passionate).
* Norse mythology tells of Freya who had a
chariot pulled by black cats, who often transformed
themselves into black horses.
* Followers of the goddess Diana also considered the cat
sacred because she once assumed the form of a cat, and cats
were und er her special protection.
* Cats are traditionally associated with witches, and it is
generally assumed today that witches' familiars were (and are)
always cats. However, during the Burning Times any small
animal that was kept in the house was suspect.
* It was also firmly believed that witches could take
the shape of cats, and accusers sometimes claimed that
they were followed or tormented by witches in the shape
* In 1718 William Montgomery of Caithness alleged that
hordes of black (and other color) cats gathered outside
his house nightly and talked in human language; he
claimed to have killed two of them and wounded another
one night and awoken the next morning to hear that two old
women had been found dead in their beds and another badly
* In Britain and Australia black cats are considered
lucky, and in some places white cats are correspondingly
unlucky. In many parts of Europe and i n the United
States, however, it is the black cat who is ill-omened.
* An old saying about black cats is that 'Whenever the
cat of the house is black, the lasses of lovers shall
have no lack'.
In some parts of the old world, the cat was placed in an empty and waiting cradle of a newlywed couple in the belief that she would quickly grant their wish for a child. The pennsylvania Dutch still follow this tradition today.
In the eerie mountains of Transylvania and other Eastern European countries, it was common wisdom that if a cat jumped over a dead body, the unfortunate corpse was doomed to eternity as a vampire.
Immigrants from Eastern Europe surrounded the coffins of their dearly departed loved ones with hundreds of blazing candles to keep the curious cat from leaping over it and preventing the spirit from resting in peace.
Scottish immigrants believed a cat that entered a room where a body was awaiting burial had to be k illed at once. If she were not the next person the cat touched would be struck blind immediately.
Funeral processions were commonly rerouted on the way to the cemetary if the procession encountered a black cat. If such a precaution was not taken, some other member of the family would soon perish.
In the old world fear of the cat was so great that it was believed that evil consequences would befall anyone who harmed a cat.
A person who kicked a cat was certain to develop rheumatism in that leg.
A farmer who killed a cat could expect a mysterious illness to kill of his cattle and crops.
A person who drowned a cat would someday suffer the same fate.
Some especially nervous persons who wanted to get rid of a cat would go so far as to hire professional feline hit men to do the job for them as they were afraid to risk the wrath themselves.
To snuff out even one of a cats nine lives was to risk being haunted by that particular cat for th e rest of the murderers days.
* To meet a black cat is usually fortunate, especially
if it crosses one's path. In some districts the luck is
only considered released if the cat is politely greeted,
or stroked three times.
* Sometimes it is considered unlucky if the cat runs
away from the person, or turns back on its own tracks.
* To meet a white cat is bad luck, except in those
countries where white cats are the luck-bringers.
* If a black cat comes into a house or onto a ship,
it is considered a very lucky sign, and the cat
should never be chased away in case it takes the luck
of the house with it.
* Seamen avoid the word 'cat' while at sea, but to
have a cat on board is lucky, especially if it is a
completely black cat with no white hairs.
* To throw the cat overboard raises an immediate violent
storm; no sailor would do such a thing to the ship's cat,
and in fact cats are rarely left on an aban doned ship
but are generally rescued with the sailors.
* If a sailor's wife kept a black cat, her husband would
always return safely from the sea; this sometimes led
to black cats being stolen.
* The tail of a black cat was believed to cure a stye
if stroked over the afflicted eye.
In Normandy, seeing a toroiseshell fortells death by accident.
A common folk cure for a stye on the eyelid was to
rub it with the tail of a black cat.
* The Egyptian goddess Bast was both lion-headed and
cat-headed and attended by cats and therefore cats were
sacred and revered in Egypt.
* Killing a cat in Egypt was a heinous crime, punishable
* When a household cat died mourning rites were performed
* Cats were often found in temples and were ritually fed;
stray cats were treated with honor and fed, and
the household cat was allowed to share the family's food.
Sacred cat s kept in a sanctuary in ancient Egypt were carefully
tended by priests who watched them day and night.
They made their famous predictions by interpreting the smallest purr,
stretch or whisker twitch.
In the 19th century, a temple on the River Nile dedicated to Bast, the Egyptian cat goddess, was excavated and the remains of 300,000 embalmed cats were found. They were sent to England and sold as fertilizer at about $20 per ton. Fortunately, a few made it into museums.
* Cat amulets were produced and elaborate cat-sized sarcophagi
crafted for cats who had died, who were often embalmed
as humans were.