Are Black Cats Really Bad Luck? We Claw Through the Myth

If you name some of the spooky symbols of Halloween, you're sure to mention witches, jack-o'-lanterns, bats, ghosts, and of course, black cats. With spiky arched backs and glowing green eyes, they certainly add to any spooky scene if they creep around your Halloween decorations. Perhaps you or someone you know truly fears black cats, but have you ever wondered why?

That fear may stem from the black cat myth that they may do you harm somehow. It has persisted through the centuries, so you're not alone, and it becomes a point of conversation especially when Halloween rolls around. So why not face your fear head on and finally ask the question: Are black cats really bad luck? Once you know the history, you may not be so spooked after all. In fact, one might just bring you good fortune!

Why are black cats associated with Halloween?

The biggest link between black cats and Halloween has to do with who are often seen as the owners of such creatures: witches. In medieval Europe, the Christian church increased in popularity, causing society to cast out pagan religions like Wicca. Witches became symbols of evil, and because of their beliefs in the natural world, the connection to domesticated animals like cats became suspect. In fact, many believed witches themselves could transform into black cats as disguises.

black cat myth bad luck
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While the association specifically with black cats is not entirely known, black is often considered the symbol of death and mourning. It may have ultimately been the imagery of the time that solidified the link between witches and black cats, but nevertheless, that connection has endured. Where there is Halloween, there are witches. And where there are witches, there are black cats. And here's an interesting Halloween fact: Both witches and black cats are still some of the most popular Halloween costumes!

Does a black cat mean bad luck?

If you believe Pope Gregory IX from 1233, black cats symbolize Satan and are therefore, bad luck. Yup, that's how long that myth has endured! It is connected to the superstitions of the Catholic church and the sanctioned witch hunts to weed out any heretics that crossed them. And while many humans perished for this bewitching connection, so did many cats. In fact, cats were eventually blamed for the bubonic plague because they were considered evil. (It's interesting to note that killing cats for this reason completely backfired; the loss of such agile hunters made the disease worse, since it is spread by rats!)

Not all societies or religions believed that black cats were evil. In fact, many believe black cats are good luck! Take ancient Egypt, for example. Cats were revered because of their resemblance to the goddess Bastet. Some were even buried alongside their owners to be with them in the afterlife! In Japan, they are also considered signs of good luck and prosperity. So, now that you know they symbolize both, it's up to you to decide which on is correct.

black cat myth bad luck
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What happens if a black cat crosses your path?

If a black cat comes your way, your fate is determined by what you've decided: Are they bad luck or good luck? If you believe they are evil, then a black cat crossing your path may mean something bad will happen. Again, going back to medieval times, many believed black cats were either transformed witches themselves or would be sending a witch your way.

However, if you believe the opposite, the appearance of a black cat is a sign of positive things to come! In France, it is believed that something magical will come your way. To many European sailors, keeping a black cat on board meant a safe journey (with a significantly reduced rodent population to boot). And in Japan, while they are considered lucky for everyone, they are thought to bring extra luck to single women looking for love. So go ahead, don't be scared. Get a black cat and good things will happen. You can even pick a popular name associated with a famous witch and be ready for Halloween every year!

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