Some of us believe in superstition and there are those whose life were affected by it. Have ever heard of the curse of a black cat where you should cancel any appointments you have as you might encounter an accident? Some says that someone will die if you see a black cat.
Let s explore where the superstition from the black cats originated and see both the good and the bad.
Black Cat Superstition
In animal shelters and pet adoption centers in America, black cats are still often the last to be adopted and at higher risk for euthanasia. They suffer from the same superstitions and stigmas that has roots all the way back to Middle Ages witchcraft persecutions. It was during that time, that the black cat got an undeserved bad reputation.
It was not until the mid-16th Century, in Europe, when black cats in particular, began to be associated with “bad” luck and be linked to witchcraft. Witch hysteria was just spreading throughout Europe. Long before it reached the shores of America and caught fire in Salem, MA an unfortunate legend was born.
In the village of Lincolnshire, England a poor elderly woman was an outcast in the town. She was unjustly suspected of being a witch and eventually accused. At any rate, when a father and son were headed home from the local tavern, a black cat crossed their path. The drunken men hit the cat with rocks and chased the poor thing into the shack of the old lady. When the old lady was seen limping the next day the village decided that she was actually the cat. The village persecuted the old woman and accused her of witchcraft and “shape-shifting.”
Sadly, no one knows how many lonely destitute women and gentle loving cat companions were killed in this purge. One thing is for certain, black cats were singled out for extermination. The idea that witches could transform themselves into black cats was also a belief that was repeated in America during the Salem witch trials. For a time, cats were burned on Shrove Tuesday (before Lent started), as a ritual that was supposed to protect people from fire and other accidents.
The Black Plague
In a public decree Pope Gregory IX called cats “Diabolical Creatures”. People that kept cats were often suspected of being witches, and put to death along with their pets. At first black cats, then eventually all cats were being killed and driven away from settlements. In Medieval times, the cat population had almost been wiped out by this superstitious mind-set.
When the Black Plague was spread throughout Europe by rats, millions of people died. The plague was made worse because so many cats had been killed. If the cats had been there as the natural predator to the rats it may have stopped and certainly would have limited the spread of the disease. In reality, if the cat population had been allowed to live it would have been “good” luck for millions.
Good Luck Cats
Black cats were not always so misunderstood. In fact, all cats were respected and practically worshiped in ancient Egypt.
The Irish have an ancient saying that if you kill a cat it brings you 17 years of bad luck. Scottish folklore says when a black cat arrives at your doorstep, it signifies happiness and prosperity. In the English Midlands, when a black cat is given as a wedding present it brings good luck to the bride. Black cats in Japan (and throughout the Orient) have always been considered lucky.