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Black Cats

When you picture a typical witch, what does she have? A broom, a hat, and a black cat.

What makes black cats so iconic for witches? Is it because they're considered bad luck to "normal" people? Did it originate with the traditional hoodoo black cat bone?*

*please don't do this to animals, there are nicer ways to obtain bones

The idea that cats are bad luck seems exclusive to the western world, and most of you reading this probably know plenty about that. So we'll focus on some of the positive superstitions for these lovely creatures.

Let's start with a Welsh poem from 1896, which seems to credit black cats with keeping their owners healthy:

Cath ddu, mi glywais dd'wedyd, A fedr swyno hefyd, A chadw'r teulu lle mae'n byw O afael pob rhyw glefyd.

Which translates to: 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.

Cats are great pest control. Considering how many rodents and insects can carry disease, it makes sense that cats would be seen as a protector of health.

Another place black cats are considered lucky is on a ship. Sailors would often have cats onboard to help control the rodent population. Mice and rats can cause serious damage to the ship's structural integrity, not to mention they can destroy goods that are being shipped and eat food meant for the sailors. A cat is a good investment in this situation. The wives of fishermen and sailors would keep a black cat at home, believing that the cat's influence could protect its humans even at a distance. This ensured that the husband would come home in one piece.

Speaking of husbands, a woman who owns a black cat is said to have many gentlemen callers. So if you're in the market for a man, maybe you just need a mini-panther. Men love pus-- nevermind.

A few other beliefs about black cats:

  • Newlyweds with a black cat will have a long, happy life together.

  • A black maniki-neko will bring prosperity, but also keep away demons, evil energy, and stalkers.

  • The Norse goddess Freya rides a chariot pulled by two black cats.

  • Of course I have to mention that cats were worshipped in Egypt. The goddess Bastet resembles a black cat.

Not a belief, but a scientific fact: the genes that cause cats to have black fur may also protect them from diseases such as FIV and cancer. That's pretty metal. Are we sure they're bad luck? They seem pretty lucky to me. Although, I could be biased. It's not my fault that my cat is the most beautiful creature to ever exist.

Black cats (and black dogs, for that matter) are adopted at a much lower rate than other colors. This might be in part due to superstition, but it's likely got more to do with aesthetics. People find solid black to be boring. Unfashionable people, in my opinion. Black goes with everything. Your cat will always match your outfit!

If you're interested in getting a beautiful fur baby of your own, please adopt one instead of going to breeders. There are plenty of black cats (and dogs, for you dog people) that are waiting for homes. And now you have plenty of reasons to want a black cat!

(Please do your research and be prepared for a pet before getting one. They are a lifetime commitment and deserve to be treated as such. Too many people treat them like toys and throw them away if they're "broken." Don't throw away your family members, even if they hiss at each other sometimes.)

I'll get off my soapbox now.

Stay safe!

- me

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