Black cat superstitions: History and impact

Most of us may agree that superstitions are irrational beliefs, yet practices like avoiding ‘Floor 13’ of a hotel when booking our vacation or immediately saying “bless you” when a loved one sneezes, continue to this day. However, the Black cat superstitions are amongst the most commonly believed ones, and there are numerous myths about these harmless creatures just because of their color.

Origins of the black cat superstition

The history of associating black cats to negativity dates back to the ancient Greek times. It is believed that Zeus’s wife Hera turned one of her servants into a black cat as a punishment for trying to create hindrances in the birth of Hercules. The servant then joined hands with a goddess of witchcraft and ever since black cats are perceived to be related to evil.

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Here are some superstitions associated with black cats that are believed in different parts of the world. Have a quick look over them to see if they are similar or different to the ones prevailing in your culture.

Black cat crossing your path

Black cat crossing your path is an incident people are so scared of that many cancel their plans and turn back home if a situation like this occurs. In most parts of the world, it is believed that if you continue towards your destination after the cat has crossed your path, it would either result in your death or in unfavorable circumstances.

We wonder why no one argued over this belief for centuries using a logical explanation that cats, like all living creatures, have the right to freely move around and go to places.

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Beware! It’s not a cat!

Another black cat superstition is that they are actually witches disguised as cats so that they can roam around carrying out evil spells without being noticed. This belief is so deep-rooted in some cultures that people have even created an extension of this false belief claiming every witch has 9 chances to take the form of a cat in its lifetime. Therefore, they are likely to use them very wisely and for massive projects, hence coming in contact with a black cat can be pretty dangerous.

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Black cats bring good luck

Contrary to the widespread belief, black cat superstitions prevalent in some cultures are associated with good luck. Below is a list of the positive beliefs associated with black cats.

  • Black cat-A lucky charm

If you are struggling to find a compatible partner and wonder whether true love actually exists, spotting a black cat may solve all your worries. There is a superstition prevalent in Japan that catching the sight of a black cat means you will find your love one day.

  • Black cat ensures a safe journey

It is amusing how the same situation can have so contrasting meanings in different cultures. Even more interesting is the fact that all of these beliefs are myths or superstitions.

During ancient times when the modes of travelling were not that advanced, it was believed in some parts of Europe that sailors would have a safe journey if a black cat accompanied them on the voyage.

See how opposite this belief is to the one about black cat crossing a path bringing bad luck.

  • Black cat-a sign of prosperity

If a black cat pops up at the entrance of your house, people in Scotland believe it to be a sign of prosperity and happiness coming your way.

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The impact of black cat superstitions

The downside to these superstitions is that poor creatures, black cats are by no means at fault, but have a very low ratio of adoption. This may be due to the reason that negative superstitions about black cats are far more prevalent and common in the world as compared to the positive ones.

The problem is amplified by the fact that the gene for black color is dominant in cats resulting in a greater number of these cats. In fact, according to the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA), there are 22 different cat breeds that have black-colored fur.

Black cats existing in high numbers coupled with the fact that no one wants to adopt them has resulted in a huge number of them ending up in animal shelters. Sadly, these shelters also have limited resources and capacity, therefore many black cats have to be euthanized. Even when adopted, shelters fear that the owners may not treat them well or worse, use them as Halloween props.

Since superstitions emerge out of ignorance, stereotypes, misunderstandings or myths, it is somewhat unethical to treat any animal badly for no fault of its own. It is one thing to not like them or to maintain your distance. but mistreating them should not be acceptable.

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