Since the age of the Salem Witch Trials in 1693 (and perhaps even all the way back to the Middle Ages), people have been afraid of dark subjects relating to witchcraft and the use of it. Society has also become resistant to the symbols related to witches for fear of attracting the energy of them into their homes.
One of the most common symbols associated with witches is the black cat. It was commonplace for witches to have feline companions, and the most notorious color for them to have was black. This is now portrayed in Halloween decorations and is used in films and TV shows to represent scary scenes. The color of the cat is also good for being hidden in the dark and hunting at night, which has created a stereotype for it being malevolent and dangerous.
When watching a horror film, have you ever seen a black cat jump at the screen in fright? Or hear the sound of a cat hissing or shrieking in defense?
The fear of witches (and any taboo in association with them) is where that originated.
Due to this use of the black cat in generally scary or horror-genre content, people have naturally become more afraid of darker-colored cats and will actively avoid them. Some people have even created myths surrounding them that are still believed to this day.
Have you ever heard your grandparent say a black cat is a bad luck when you’re looking at them in the pet shop?
It’s a widely-accepted belief society holds – but how would they even know it’s bad luck? And where exactly did that belief originate? Is it even true?
Here are 8 myths about black cats (from normal to most ridiculous!) and how they can be easily debunked:
Black cats are bad luck. Depending on what culture or religion you identify as being part of, you may view this as fact and avoid black cats yourself. However, science has disproved any sort of animal as holding luck – whether it’s good or bad. Although black cats can appear dangerous due to their color and cats’ quick and sneaky demeanor, they will not give you a lifetime of bad luck. In fact, by choosing to spend time with the cat, you may gain a friend instead of a blood-thirsty enemy!
Black cats are bad pets. It is a well-known fact that black animals are the least adopted animals across every adoptable breed. This is usually due to cosmetic reasons by the adoptees; they want animals that will take pretty pictures for Instagram and their pet won’t get lost in the photo from their color. Although this behavior is inappropriate when choosing a lifetime companion, it is a serious concern for some people. The good news is that a cat’s color will never affect whether it is a good pet or not. Your black kitty may not photograph well – but she’ll love you for life and bring you endless joy.
Black cats are witches in animal form. Again, science is going to have to rule this one out. Unfortunately, society hasn’t found a way yet for us to shapeshift into other people, animals, or objects. This means – aside from believing in witchcraft magic and considering it to be a real practice – that there is no possible way that a black cat is secretly a human in another form. People with strong cultural beliefs tend to think that if they see a black cat following them around, it must be a witch trying to cast a spell on them. However, this one will have to be debunked until science has figured that out for us.
Black cats put you at risk of being attacked by a cultist. Every year around Halloween, stories are passed around by school children that black cats are snatched up from the streets and sacrificed by cultists. While this may have been true around the same time as the witch trials, it has been proven to be criminally untrue. There has been research done to suggest that, in recent history, there has been no confirmed court cases, statistics, or studies to show that black cats have been abused in any way as a sacrifice in a cultist setting. If you adopt a black cat, you’re at 0% risk of being attacked or targeted by a cult because of the animal you choose to adopt.
Black cats cause other family members to die if they’re at a funeral procession. This one is definitely one of the weirdest black cat myths that have been started, but apparently is vastly-known in some parts of the world. According to some, if a black cat shows up at a funeral procession, it means another family member at the funeral is due to die at anytime. From this, society tends to think that black cats cause imminent death. Although funerals are sad occasions and people’s thoughts can be clouded by emotion, black cats (or any animal) are not the reason for another family member’s death. In fact, cats can do the opposite and provide emotional healing in difficult times.
Black cats seen from behind you while driving can mean a bad omen is coming your way. In fact, people even go so far as to turn their hat backward and draw an “X” on the back windscreen of their car to prevent demonic spirits from entering their lives and causing the bad omen. Although it’s not clear where this myth began, it certainly has an checklist of tasks to do in order to stop the black cat from messing your life up! Unfortunately, this myth has to be debunked as well. Black cats can walk by you from any direction and will do nothing but maybe solicit for pats. Animals passing you never means anything other than you’re sharing the road with them and you (probably) should try to avoid hitting them and causing a road accident.
Black cats seen in a dream can mean your closest family member is set to die soon. Again, this is placing blame on black cats for the cause of death but, in reality, animals have no sway over a person being alive or not. Perhaps if someone is deathly allergic to the fur of an animal or trips over their body while it’s lounging around the house – then yes, the black cat may be the cause. But in all other circumstances beyond allergies or accidents, black cats seen in your dreams do not have any sort of real-life connection to the death of your family members. If you do see a black cat in your dreams, it might be a sign you should get one! Cats can be wonderful companions and receiving loving support from an animal could be what you need right now.
Black cats will make you sick. This one is interesting and easily the most ridiculous, considering that it’s not even a relevant myth anymore. This myth originated in the Middle Ages when people were suffering from the Bubonic Plague, which were brought in from rats infected with the disease. Since cats (including black ones!), were kept as rat-hunters in family homes, cats were associated with the illness and thus, the myth was born. While cats could’ve passed on the plague to humans back then, it’s definitely not an issue now! Cats can still get you sick if you aren’t careful, but it’s never done by the cat with ill-intentions and is easily treatable. Don’t fret – you aren’t at risk for the plague anymore! You can keep that black kitty in your home.
While these myths can be fun to discuss and create spooky stories around Halloween, none of them hold any sort of truth. It’s hard to believe how many of these stories are still told and kept from the age of witches and the Bubonic Plague.
Unfortunately, the black cats of the 21st century are still suffering from the discrimination of society hundreds of years ago. These days, plenty of people do own black cats, but it is often the religious who still fear being struck by a demonic feline. It can be hard to see – but there really are no differences between a black cat or a white, orange, and brown cat. No matter what Halloween stories will tell you, black cats will love you and play with you just as much as your average domestic feline.
To avoid taking part in this silly myth cycle, reach for a black animal if you’re considering adopting one. In doing this, you will create a healthy mindset surrounding myths (and possibly even witchcraft!) and show your friends and family that there are no real sources to reliably confirm any of the negative information about them.
If you see a black cat, it doesn’t mean it wants to harm you – it just wants to be your friend!