April 28, 2008

*Superstitions: Black Cats

Cross-posted at DDBBG.


Americans tend to think of black cats as bad luck, especially if one crosses their path, but the black cat is actually a very popular good-luck symbol in England today. Historically, cats in general have had a mixed bag of luckiness/unluckiness in Europe. In France, cats of any color that were suspected of being witches were caged and set on fire. In Eastern Europe, some cats were marked with crosses to prevent them from turning into witches.

Besides witches, black animals can be associated with other evil spirits. Demons tend to prefer to become black animals--whether cats, dogs, or other creatures. And it is believed that sorcerers often turn themselves into black cats.

The American superstition about black cats is based on the association of black cats with witches, originating in the late 1800s when cartoons and children’s books started pairing the two. Now you can hardly imagine a witch without her black cat keeping her company. Before this, witches in America were usually associated with rabbits and other animals.

Reference: Most of the material from this post was found in David Pickering's Dictionary of Superstitions and Steve Roud's The Penguin Guide to the Superstitions of Britain and Ireland.

Posted by Jennifer at April 28, 2008 09:00 AM | TrackBack


We have cats and I can assure you that all cats are unlucky.

Posted by: Jim at April 28, 2008 06:12 AM

We have a cat, and I would definitely describe her as more evil than unlucky.

Posted by: shank at April 28, 2008 06:38 AM

That is because you have to understand the basic rule of cats: Dogs have masters, cats have a staff. Once you realize that simple rule cats become much easier to tolerate.

Posted by: Pete at April 28, 2008 03:46 PM

Our black cat is a thieving terrorist.

Posted by: sarahk at April 29, 2008 12:47 PM