Has a black cat ever crossed your path and cursed you with bad luck you can’t shake off? Or, perhaps you’ve heard about black cats that are actually shape shifting witches! In all parts of the world there are superstitions about black cats that either hurt or help their reputation. Sadly, black cats are actually among the least adoptable pets in the US, with some of the highest rates of euthanasia. But why do black cats get such a negative rap?
In Western culture, the myth that black cats cause bad omens, actually originated from Greek mythology where, Hera (Zeus’s wife), transformed her servant into a black cat who later became an assistant to a goddess of witchcraft and death. From here, word of mouth has generated several superstitions with strong ties to witches.
For example, early American settlers believed that black cats were companions to the witch and could even act as their spies. Anyone who owned a black cat was to be punished or even killed. This led to many people believing that black cats are actually shape shifting witches who can transform into black cats up to nine times. Anything sound familiar?
However, although most of Europe considers black cats to be bad luck as well, Germany believes that the black cat’s curse only depends on the direction in which the cat is crossing from. And, in the UK and Japan, a black cat crossing your path is actually a sign that good things are about to come! In Japan, it’s also believed their luck can bring many suitors to women. Furthermore, in the 17th and 18th century, sailors used black cats to keep vermin out, also signifying good luck and safety at sea. It wasn’t uncommon for wives to have black cats at home either, as they believed the cats could guide good luck to their sailing husbands. However, if the cat walked or jumped off the ship, this would predict a sinking ship on the next voyage.
These conflicting superstitions have led black cats to be symbols of witchcraft and misfortune, causing people to be more willing to overlook them. What’s even more worrisome is that black cats are also victims of abuse—especially throughout Halloween—with some shelters even halting adoptions during the month of October for fear they’ll be used as Halloween props. This tragic reality leaves black cats deeply misunderstood. So the question begs, how can we end the stigma against these average felines?
Well, if you have a black cat yourself, this month is the best time to share with everyone just how special they are! After all, they’re just as loving as other cats are with just the right amount of catitude. It may also help to understand where these superstitions come from, in order to recognize them for what they are and spread awareness to debunking the myths. Have a black cat you adore? Share a photo with us on Instagram and we’ll feature your feisty feline in our story! Don’t forget to tag us @CanineCompanionLA