Cat History

Do Black Cats Really Bring Bad Luck?

In today’s generation, virtually anyone who is educated in science will know that a cat is just a cat – it is just a type of animal that lives together with humans in society.

However, this does not stop us from celebrating certain long-lasting festivals or learning about the legends and myths of the past, which do include certain views on black cats. Most are negative, which is why there are still people who dislike black cats, especially for those who are of the older generation or are extremely superstitious.

This does not mean that black cats are all bad and no good though. There are still a few positive views around the world, just that they are not as widespread as the negative ones.

Black Cats In Egypt

The history of cats can be traced back all the way to Ancient Egypt, around 3,400 BC or so. In Ancient Egypt, it was believed that the Cat Goddess Bast sent cats to help the ancient Egyptians, who faced serious vermin problems with their food. The existence of cats had greatly relieved them of their problems.

In those years, it was against the law to kill a cat, and since Bast was depicted as a black cat (sometimes as a cat-head goddess) ornamented with gold jewelry around the neck and ears, black cats were especially sacred to the ancient Egyptians.

It was an Egyptian tradition that people were mummified before being buried. Cats were the only animals which were given the same treatment. When a cat which belonged to a family died, it will be mummified, buried in the tomb as the rest of the family members, and the family would mourn the passing of it.

So Why Are Black Cats Portrayed Negatively Now?

To answer this question, we will have to delve into the topic of religion. During the times when most of the native Americans were Pagans (believing in the existence of magic and the importance of nature and balance), cats were part of their families. Since females during those times were housewives, they spent long periods of time with the cats at home and had a stronger bond with them.

When the early Pilgrims came and brought with them the Christian Bible, this was when things turned downhill. Devout Christian believers firmly believed that their God is the one true God and any other beliefs were considered worshipping the devil Satan. Pagans were of no exception. When the Christians tried to spread their faith but the Pagans refused to convert, the Christians believed that it must be the devil’s doing.

With the prevalence of cats, they hypothesized that Pagans were devil-worshippers and their cats were their familiars who carried out their biddings. This led to the witch hunts (the Salem Witch Trials were one of the most well-known incidents) and the mass killing of cats. Black cats were especially targeted as black was associated with Satan and death in Christianity.

The mass killing of deaths lead to an increase in rat population – common sense for us now, but not for those who lived in the past – and hence there was a spike in illnesses and diseases. These were attributed to revenge being extracted by the devil-worshippers (Pagans) and their familiars, which further spiraled things out of hand.

Black Cats In The World Today

Even though people do still associate black cats with bad luck, they are no longer as feared now as compared to the Middle Ages. Persecution on black cats had stopped officially, but not animal abuse and cat killings, unfortunately. Nevertheless, there are Christian families who do accept and own black cats as their family pet, though, which is a great improvement from previous times.

In fact, there are official ‘Black Cat Days’ around the world today. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, October 27 is the ‘Black Cat Day’, while in the United States, August 17 is the ‘Black Cat Appreciation Day’. To protect black cats, some shelters have even limited the adoption of black cats or screening prospective adopters much more carefully around the Halloween period as they did not want these cats to be ‘used’ (toyed with, used as living decoration, or even being mutilated and killed as an act of sacrifice) only during the festival period and getting abandoned soon after that (this applies to rabbits during Easter as well).

As for modern Pagans, cats (especially black ones) are still one of the first animals that they will consider when it comes to getting a familiar for themselves. However, they believe that animals deserve to be treated equally well and will welcome any other animals as familiars, especially if it seems to be a fated match.

Other Good Associations With Black Cats

In Japan, black cats are believed to bring good luck, wealth, and prosperity into the family. They can also deter demons and evil energy from staying around the area that they live in. The sight of one, especially one crossing the path, will mean good luck for the rest of the day.

People who believe in Feng Shui believe that black cats hold very strong powers of good when they are healthy and loved. This is why they will suggest having a black cat in the house to guard the home, or if it is not possible, having a black cat figurine facing to the north can take the place of a real black cat.

Scientifically, researchers at the National Institute of Health had discovered that black cats may actually contribute positively to medical research. This is because of a discovery that showed that cats with black coats may have certain genes that offer certain disease resistances (such as HIV and Alzheimer’s). As such, doing research on black cats can allow medical researchers the probability of learning how to prevent such diseases instead of inventing and implementing a cure after contacting the illness.

I am curious – what are your thoughts on black cats?

If you have any questions that you want to ask, anything you wish to clarify, or simply want to express your thoughts and feelings, feel free to leave a comment!

8 thoughts on “Do Black Cats Really Bring Bad Luck?

  1. What a great article – full of information that I never knew about! 

    So it all boils down to the battle between Christians and Pagans? Mad stuff really!

    I know that in certain paranormal circles there are specific beliefs about black cat entities – one is even supposed to haunt the White House! 

    Well myself and my sister had two cats when we were growing up – one pure white and one jet black. I’m happy to report that they were both lovely animals (nothing demonic about either!)  🙂

    1. Glad to see you again, Chris!

      Indeed, majority of the superstition ‘black cats bring bad luck’ originated from the battle between the Christians and the Pagans, of which the Pagans lost really terribly. Black cats are just one of the animals that is really unfortunate and got caught up in this mess.

      I’m sure your cats had a great time with you 🙂 Really glad to see another cat lover around!

      Rachel

  2. Fascinating write-up! I always found black cats intriguing and as a child my favorite animal was the black panther. I also believe that black cats are very valuable and deter bad luck like evil spirits as the Japanese believe today. I had no idea about the fact that scientists are studying their coats for medical benefits, wow! I’m getting ready to buy some black cat decor for Halloween…any suggestions?

    1. Hello Lev,

      Black cats decor is perfectly fine, just, please don’t get a black cat just for this festival. 

      Suggestion-wise, I will say get those that you can keep and store easily or add as a permanent decoration to your house so you save the Earth by actually keeping it as part of your household furniture or reusing them for every Halloween 🙂

      Rachel

  3. I was fascinated to read about how the whole “black cats are bad luck” thing came about. I always thought it was something that started due to Halloween. Now I see that Halloweeners just use this to their advantage when decorating! 

    I have to say that my black cats have been my BEST cats so far. My sister-in-law told me that because of the stigma surrounding black cats, they don’t get adopted as easily as other colored cats. Which makes me sad because they are so awesome. Hopefully you’ll keep spreading the word that black cats are great cats! 

    1. Hi Christina!

      Technically, another term for Halloween is Samhain, which is also known as the Witch’s (Pagan) New Year, so it is not really surprising to see why black cats are so associated with Halloween, except that it has a negative connection with Halloween but a positive one with Samhain.

      Glad that your black cats have brought you much joy and happiness, and yes, I will definitely keep spreading the word that black cats are awesome 🙂

      Rachel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *