Black cats are so much better than you think! Whether you are a cat owner or not, we can all agree that no other domesticated cat has a reputation quite like black cats.
While black cats are typically associated with Halloween, witchcraft, and bad luck, there’s much more to these fur balls than the creepy stuff. Learn the history of black cats, how they became Halloween icons, and where they are considered a symbol of good fortune.
The background of black cats and witches
If you think about it, it’s no surprise that humanity tends to distrust our feline friends. In the earliest days of history, cats were large, carnivorous creatures that evidence suggests humans often had to fend off to survive.
Fast-forward thousands of years – how did this fear translate over to a specifically coloured domestic cat? It is believed that this superstition began around the Middle Ages in Europe. Folklore spread about a man and his son who came across a black cat, which they started to toss rocks at. The injured cat ran into a woman’s house who was suspected of being a witch, and when the woman happened to appear limping and bruised the next day, people suspected that the cat must be the woman in disguise. This disturbing practise carried over to the prosecution of witches across Europe and eventually to the Salem Witch Trials. As a result, black cats whose owners were accused of witchcraft were associated with the Devil and evil. Furthermore, people thought black cats assisted witches in their evil deeds and that witches could transform into black cats to lurk in the shadows and cast spells on people. As a result, both witches and black cats were persecuted and killed together.
People think that they cannot read the emotions of black cats.
The perceived inability to read the emotions of black cats predicted the black cat bias. In other words, those who felt that they could not read the expression of black cats also rated black cats as less friendly, more aggressive, and less adoptable.
Not everyone hated black cats!
That being said, there were plenty of black cat-lovers throughout history, too! Ancient Egyptians viewed black cats as divine and believed that gods lived within them. In certain parts of 19th century Europe, black cat sightings were considered good omens. For example, the Irish thought that a black cat on your porch was good luck, and in Japan, black cats are similarly revered as symbols of prosperity.
Not only can black cats better your love life, but they can amp up your good luck and improve your finances, too. Historically, sailors brought cats aboard ships to hunt mice and, presumably, for companionship. However, British sailors believed a black cat would bring the ship good luck and ensure a safe return home.
It was a little more complicated for pirates, though. They believed a black cat walking toward you was terrible luck, a black cat walking away from you was good luck, and if a cat boarded the ship and then jumped off, the boat was going to sink.
Black cats can bring you luck!
In Japan, for example, single women who own black cats are believed to attract more suitors. In Great Britain’s English Midlands, a black cat is the ideal wedding gift; they’re considered to bring good luck and happiness to the bride.
Luckily for our feline friends, these bad superstitions have virtually vanished, and black cats are now a part of many families across the world. Unfortunately, many black cats are still mistreated and feared today, especially around Halloween, which is why we always caution owners of black cats to keep them safely indoors around that time of year.