It’s October, and in October, we celebrate all things spooky, scary, and suspenseful! It’s the time of year for pumpkins, ghosts, skeletons, and witches. After all, what’s a witch without their black cat?
Black cats are the source of many superstitions, usually bad. Many people associate a black cat crossing your path with bad luck, or even death. In Medieval Europe, black cats were symbols of evil, connected with the devil. Witches were thought to use black cats to communicate with the devil or commit evil deeds specifically. Some people even thought that witches would turn into black cats to hide their identity or cast spells in secrecy. Because of the mass hysteria surrounding witches and witchcraft in the twelfth century, many black cats were killed by association. It is thought that the mass killing of black cats may have contributed to the quick spread of the Bubonic Plague and the deaths of over 25 million people in Medieval Europe.
However, black cats aren’t seen as harbingers of death and evil everywhere. In Egyptian culture and mythology, the goddess Bastet is often symbolized as a woman with a black cat head. She’s a fierce warrior goddess who defends pharaohs and blesses those who protect cats. Killing a cat in Egyptian culture was a crime that was subsequently punishable by death. The death of a cat was mourned, and it wasn’t uncommon for people to be buried or mummified with their cats.
Although in Japan, a black cat crossing your path means good luck. Japanese women will own a black cat in hopes of attracting suitors. In general, the Japanese culture honors cats. The most famous Japanese cat may be Maneki Neko, or Lucky Cat. This cat has one raised, waving paw that is believed to bring good fortune and prosperity. Depending on if it’s their left paw or the right paw raised, the Maneki Neko may be beckoning for customers or money.
In Germany, they are very specific in their black cat superstitions. A black cat crossing your path can mean good or bad luck, depending on the direction they cross your path. On one hand, if it’s from right to left, good luck is on the way. But if it’s from left to right, beware of bad luck. This isn’t limited to just strays, either. As a matter of fact, even your own house cat could accidentally curse you!
Unfortunately, black cats continue to carry a bad rap. Black cats are least likely to be adopted, as are their black and white feline friends. Many places will refuse to adopt out a black cat during October or around Halloween. This is in fear of the animal being hurt or mistreated. However, black cats are just cats. They can be as lovable, friendly, and sweet as any other color of cat. And we can prove it! We have two black cats here at TCWR and they both have lots of personality, but no bad luck. Come visit our black leopard, Spyke, and our black jaguar, Bagheera, this Halloween and prove to yourself that black cats aren’t bad luck.