In ancient Europe, black cats got the bad rap, or had the bad reputation of being messengers of witches or demons, by changing form as a shape-shifter. Some beliefs were that an evil witch could turn herself into a black cat to seek revenge or cause chaos. In some cultures, black cats were burned on bon fires. This was a silly notion of course, because a black cat, or any cat, would help in keeping down the rat population, preferably during the Black Plague.
England, however, considered black cats as good luck. In some witch practices the hair of a black animal and a white animal was used in powerful potions. This is where the term, “the hair of the dog” came into focus. So, it wasn’t necessarily the black cat that was the culprit.
In the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina and adjoining states as recently as the 1920’s, people living in the mountains saw a black cat as sign of a superstition. Many of the older folks of those parts in decades past would make a cross on their windshield, and throw salt over their shoulder, if a black cat crossed in front of their car as they were traveling. The people of Irish or German descent may have kept this superstition going from generations past. People of Irish and German descent comprised the majority of settlers, that first settled into the Appalachians.
Edgar Allan Poe’s short story called the “Black Cat” was no doubt written as a scary story involving a haunting black cat. The black cat was thought of as an evil omen, or would produce a haunting, and not be able to be destroyed.
However, not only the people from UK and Asia thought that black cats were good luck, but also the Egyptians and Romans thought that black cats were sacred and it was a capital punishment to kill one. But in other areas of Europe they became a negative presence.
So, there is a lot of controversy about whether a black cat was a symbol of good luck or bad. The superstitions of these creatures still remains today.
At American animal adoption centers, black cats have the lowest adoption rate through the year. Many adoption centers won’t adopt black cats out during Halloween because of the lingering superstition about them. Several times through the years I have heard on news reports on television that to keep your pets safe, it is a good idea to keep your black cat inside on Halloween night.
By the way, October is now officially black cat month. This is a positive step in eradicating the stigma associated with black cats.
my personal knowledge and experience