Black cats are one of the most famous symbols of Halloween. Today many of us see them as a fun symbol and don’t buy into old superstitions associated with witches and bad luck. Some might even see their association with witches as a positive attribute. Despite this, black cats are less likely to be adopted than cats of other colors. August 17 is National Black Cat Appreciation Day. Many shelters use this holiday as a chance to help their homeless black cats find forever homes.
According to folklore from around the world, there are many great reasons to welcome a black cat into your home. They not only look cool at your Halloween party, but they can also bring good luck.
Here are four positive myths and superstitions about black cats.
The British Black Cat of Health and Good Luck
The British Isles have always been a mixed bag for black cats. During the Middle Ages, many people in Britain considered black cats to be bad luck or thought they were witches’ familiars. There were even a couple of pre-Christian beliefs that painted black cats in a less than glowing light. The fairy called the Cat Sith was known in Scottish folklore to take the shape of a black cat and haunt the Scottish Highlands. In Welsh lore, a black-cat-like creature called Cath Palug haunted the isle of Anglesey.
Of course, those myths were about creatures taking the shape of a black cat. Pre- Christian Celtic beliefs about actual black cats were much more positive. Scottish lore holds that a black cat entering a house will bring prosperity. The Welsh associated black cats with good luck and good health. This association lasted up to modern times. A Welsh rhyme goes:
A black cat, I’ve heard it said,
Can charm all ill away,
And keep the house wherein she dwells
From fever’s deadly sway.
Among British sailors, black cats on a ship were believed to bring fair weather on a voyage.
The Cats of Love
Around the world, black cats have been associated with being lucky in love. British ladies believed that a black cat entering their home would bring many suitors. If newlyweds owned a black cat, it would frighten away evil spirits and bring a long, happy life of marital bliss. It is still a common belief in the English-speaking world that seeing a black cat on your wedding day will bring good luck to the couple.
Japanese ladies also believe that a black cat will bring suitors. In Norse mythology, Freya, the goddess of love, fertility, and beauty, rode in a chariot drawn by cats. Some versions of the myth say they were black cats.
Cats of Prosperity
Many cultures believe that black cats attract wealth and good fortune. In addition to being the goddess of love and fertility, Freya was also in the habit of blessing farmers. Norse farmers would leave bowls of milk in their fields for Freya’s feline companions, and she would reward them with a plentiful harvest.
In Japan, China, and other Asian cultures, all cats are seen as a symbol of good luck and prosperity. Several beliefs deal specifically with black cats. If you keep a black cat safe and well cared for, they will reward you by frightening away evil spirits and bringing wealth to the household. The “fortune cats” or Maneki Neko, commonly seen in Japan, are usually depicted as either white or black. They are believed to draw good luck, wealth, and prosperity to their owners.
Thespians associate black cats with luck in money and business. It’s said that if there’s a black cat in the audience, your play will have a long and prosperous run.
The French take the black cat’s associations with monetary luck one step further. A long-held French superstition states that if you release a black cat at a crossroads where five roads intersect, it will lead you to treasure. The French also believe that black cats will reward owners who treat them well. Black cats are sometimes called matagot in French or “magician cats”. It’s believed that if you cater to the kitty and give them the first bite of dinner and a comfortable bed, the pampered puss will bring wealth and good fortune to their person.
A Good Cat to Cross
To cross your path, that is. We’ve all heard that a black cat crossing in front of you can bring bad luck. But the superstition is more nuanced than that. In Germany, it’s believed that a black cat crossing in front of you from right to left is a bad omen, but if it crosses from left to right, you’re in for good luck.
In Japan, a black cat crossing in front of you is always good luck.
We think the cat is probably just going somewhere. It might be bad luck to impede his very important cat business.
There are far more superstitions that attribute good luck to black cats than bad. The truth about black cats is that they are just like their lighter-colored brethren. Cats of all colors, including black, can be born into the same litter and most cat breeds have black as a possible color. There is no one personality for black cats either. Some are more cuddly, and others are playful.
As far as superstition goes, the fact that they don’t leave light-colored hair on your black clothes seems like a great omen. Celebrate Black Cat Appreciation Day by showing some love to the black cats in your life or giving a forever home to a black shelter cat.
Are these black cat pictures putting you in the mood for Halloween? You don’t have to wait until October to celebrate. Come experience the Chaos Escape Rooms at Utah’s only underground haunted attraction in Midvale. You and your friends will be pitted against ghosts, zombies, and evil scientists. Can you solve the puzzle and escape in time?