Black cats have become a symbol of Halloween with ‘bad luck’ following them every where they prowl. With solid white cats coming in a close second with many superstitions surrounding them as well. Countries all over the world have different myths and legends of black and white cats and not all of them are bad. Exactly, where did the black and white cat superstitions originate?
British Cat Legend Practiced During the Salem Witch Trials
Nine lives is one superstition that generates back thousands of years ago. It was said that a witch could transform herself into a cat nine times. Perhaps, this is where the cat having nine lives came from. A tale from Britain claims that one night a son and his father were walking home. A black cat crossed their path scaring them. Picking up stones, they threw them at the black cat.
Limping and hurt the black cat made its way into a home of a woman that had been suspected of being a witch. The next day, the son and his father saw the woman walking with a limp. Looking closer they saw her face was bruised and her arm was wrapped in a bandage. This led to the suspicion of all black cats being witches in disguise. This superstition was brought into the Americas and was also practiced during the Salem witch trials.
Black and White Cat Superstitions
Probably the most famous superstition in the United States and parts of Europe is when a black cat cross your path it is ‘bad luck’. In Ireland, if the cat crosses your path you are sure to die in an epidemic. Some believe it only takes the cat to step foot on your property to have bad luck. On the contrary, in Japan when a black cat crosses your path you are in for ‘good luck’.
A black cat on your porch in Italy means you will have prosperity. As odd as these superstitions sound many put their trust in these cats and can sometimes alter their lifestyle due to the superstitions. When taking a nap or sleeping at night keep track of what animals wander into your dreams. If you see a white cat good luck may be on the way.
Being near a cat when it sneezes is said to carry a good omen. Be careful telling gossip to loud, if a cat hears the gossip it is sure to spread it around the entire town and be prepared for rain if a cat washes behind its ears or looks out a window.
Middle Ages and Witchery
The black cat dread first began in the Middle Ages. Cats are and were very independent creatures that lived on the streets and in alleys. Lonely old ladies would often feed the cats for companionship. When the witch craze struck England the old ladies were accused of witchery. The cats that were fed by the ladies were accused and later deemed guilty of black magic along with the ladies by association.
Try this one on for size. In years past, when a young maiden couldn’t decide if she should be married she would turn to her cat. Plucking three hairs from the cats tail she would wrap them in paper and lay them outside. In the morning, she would check the hairs. If the hairs made a ‘Y’ she would marry. If the hairs made a ‘N’ shape, she wouldn’t.
Whatever superstition you believe or do not believe keep in mind cats are living creatures and need to be cared for lovingly. It is advised to keep cats indoors through the Halloween season as some people take superstitions quite seriously and may try to harm an innocent animal.