How did the superstitions about black cats all start?

black cats
Learn about the folklore that surrounds black cats. ©Angeleses, Pixabay

Black cats have always had a significant role in major civilizations’ folklore. Since ancient times, they have been associated with bad luck among other superstitions.

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Happy National Black Cat Day everyone! On this magnificent occasion, we are going to discuss the significance that black cats hold in modern societies. Today, many people around the world still believe that black cats bring bad luck. Other countries actually think that they are a good omen or a good luck charm. The folklore around these animals is very varied. So, to celebrate Black Cat National Day, it is fitting to discover what lies beyond the common beliefs.

Learning about black cat folklore

Black cats’ superstition goes back to the Middle Ages. Ever since people associated bad qualities to them. For example, Normans and Germanic people thought that a black cat was a sign that death was near. In a way, they believed that if you crossed paths with a black cat, you were unlucky and cursed. With the passing of time, the fears about black cats spread throughout Europe. An unfortunate consequence of people’s fear was the wrongful mass killings of cats. Nevertheless, even back then, some regions in Europe (especially in the UK) believed in positive black cat superstitions.

Black cats and witches

Soon afterwards, during the Dark Ages, more superstition arose as a consequence of the lack of scientific understanding of nature. A clear example was the appearance of witches and the witch hunt that soon followed. Furthermore, many people believed that witches and cats worked together. Additionally, cats were seen as an envoy of evil. Others held the opinion that witches turned themselves into cats to hide and cast spells without being seen. Many innocent women, men and black cats died during this persecution.

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Do black cats bring good fortune?

There were other good black cat superstitions scattered throughout Europe. In the UK, a black cat on a ship was a lucky charm. Pirates believed that cats could foretell the future of their ship. Sailors actually thought that if a black cat walked on and stayed on the ship, it meant good luck. However, if the cat walked on and then off again, the ship would sink. Likewise, the wives of fisherman out at sea kept black cats at home to help the fisherman return home.

In other regions of the world like Japan, people still have positive superstitions about black cats. Up to this day, they are symbols of good fortune and prosperity. The Maneki Neko cat statue is quite famous and you can easily find it inside a lot of businesses with one paw up, waving in the good fortune. There are both white and black Maneki Nekos.

Black cats today!

Fortunately, breakthroughs in science have replaced superstition in most places around the world. Now, more people understand that there is no need to fear black cats. Nonetheless, tradition is a strong factor and some people still fear the black cat. Fortunately, there are plenty of cat lovers everywhere that can testify about the loving companionship and joy that these pets bring to their owners.

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Read also: 5 benefits of having a cat at home

My name is Daniel Gala. I live in Edmonton, Canada. I am a home-based journalist. Even though writing is what I do for a living, it is one of my truest hobbies right next to reading books from my favourite authors (John Grisham, Dan Brown, J.K Rowling), and taking pictures of my surroundings. I am a dog lover since I was 5 years old when I got my first puppy: the cutest husky in the whole earth called Shani.