Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Black Cats: Superstitions & Myths

I've had two black cats and both have been awesome companions. There's also a colony of feral cats living in the woods near my house. At one time, absolutely all of them were 100% black in color. Some people have made comments about them being unlucky because of their coat color and I've always replied, "They're the sweetest, most friendly feral cats I've ever met," and that is why some have been and hopefully all will eventually be, adopted to good loving homes. It amazes me the idiotic things some people choose to believe.

Here in the West, in the past and yes, even to this day, these beautifully black furry felines have been targeted, abused and killed based on superstitions and myths (stupidity). Many animal shelters will not permit the adoption of a black cat around Halloween for this very reason. Unfortunately, the entertainment industry has both perpetuated and capitalized on such beliefs. In Janet Jackson's song, "Black Cat," she sings: "Black cat, nine lives, short days, long nights, livin' on the edge, not afraid to die, heart beat real strong, but not for long, better watch your step or you're gonna die," making an obvious reference to the most popular black cat myth. And in the movie "Hocus Pocus," Thackery Binx is turned into a black cat by the Sanderson sisters (witches). Watch clip:

Historically, the belief that "it's bad luck if a black cat crosses your path," began not long after the pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock. Devout Christians believed they were symbolic of evil or the devil's presence. It was common to assume a black cat was a so-called witch's familiar (companion), or used in rituals and some even believed the so-called witches could transform themselves and actually become black cats. So strong were these beliefs that anyone caught with a black cat would be severly punished or put to death. It was common practice to burn both the "witch" and the cat at the stake. Where did these wild ideas come from? It is thought that various Christian groups were paranoid of the cat's agility and of ancient Egypt's deep appreciation of them. There is absolutely no reason and no scientific proof whatsoever that a black cat brings bad luck to anyone.

Contrary to what we usually hear, black cats have also been associated with good luck. Ancient Egyptians regarded them with respect and as such, they were treated as royalty. If one was intentionally killed, it was a capital offense. Egyptians would even mummify black cats to preserve them for the afterlife. (Yes Egypt, you rock for loving cats!) Some people believe if a black cat crosses their path, it's actually good luck. Fisherman's wives would keep a black cat for protection while their husbands were out at sea. Such cats were often stolen as they were considered extremely valuable. In Scotland, a black kitty arriving on your porch brings prosperity. In Britain, a young woman who owns a black cat will have many suitors and owning a black cat is lucky, seeing one by accident is considered unlucky. In France, owning a black cat with even one white hair is super lucky. Thank you Japan, for changing your minds (superstitions) and believing in the innocence and harmlessness of the black cat today.

Sources: (image source)

1 comment:

  1. Even though I'm not really a cat person, I agree with all you had to say. Usually its okay to believe in superstitions if it doesn't hurt anyone, but when the cats were being killed, that was taking it too far. People really need to be educated about this kind of stuff.