Over the years and across many cultures several myths have developed about black cats. Some are positive, others are downright silly, and a few actually put these beautiful animals at risk of abuse and death.
Sadly, many archaic beliefs about the evil powers of black cats still exist. They spend more time in shelters than other cats and some rescues even restrict their adoption around Halloween in order to protect them.
The following myths are among the most well known, but certainly not the full extent of what has been believed about black cats throughout our history.
All Cats Represent Strength & Protection
As far back as 3100 BC, all cats, regardless of color or characteristic were worshiped as sacred beings in Egyptian and Muslim cultures. They were considered symbols of grace, strength and protection. Although no longer worshiped, cats still retain a positive reputation in these cultures as well as Japan and most of Europe.
Black Cats Are Symbols of Luck & Prosperity
In the south of France, black cats are referred to as “matagots” or “magician cats.” According to local superstition, they bring good luck to owners who feed them well and treat them with respect.
In nautical history, black cats were chosen to accompany ships on long voyages because of their association with good luck. The wives of sailors and fishermen also kept them as pets, believing their presence would keep their husbands safe at sea.
In the English Midlands, a black cat was a common good luck wedding gift to the bride, and some superstitious stage actors still believe that a black cat in the audience on opening night means a successful run for the show.
Black Cats Are Omens of Death
According to Greek mythology, a slave named Galinthias was turned into a black cat by Zeus’ wife, Hera as punishment for trying to prevent the birth of Heracles. Galinthias was sent to the underworld in her feline form to become a priestess of Hecate, Goddess of Death and Queen of the Witches. This association with Hecate led many to see a black cat as a bad omen indicating impending death.