Black Cats – Good luck? Bad luck? Magic? Mysterious? The following are some Superstitions regarding Good and Bad Luck or Omens related to Black Cats:
- Good Luck is when:
- A Black Cat wanders into your home
- A Black Cat greets you at the door
- You host a Black Cat in your home
- You encounter three Black Cats in succession
- Bad Luck is when you:
- Encounter a Black Cat in the early morning
- Frighten a Black Cat from your property
- Have a Black Cat turn its back to you
- Walk under a ladder that a Black Cat just passed. However, it is not a good idea to walk under any ladder whether a cat is around or not.
- Britain, Ireland & Japan: Future good fortune if a Black Cat crosses your path.
- Scotland: A strange Black Cat arriving at your home means you may win the jackpot! A stray Black Cat arriving on your doorstep signals prosperity.
- Europe & United States: Bad luck if a Black Cat crosses your path.
- Germany: If the Black Cat crosses your path from right to left, that’s bad; left to right is good.
- Japan: Black Cats are considered symbols of good luck, especially for single women. Owning a Black Cat is thought to attract potential suitors.
- Russia: All cats are viewed as bringing good luck.
- Ancient Egyptians & Romans: Revered all cats as sacred, helpful and lucky. In Egypt, the death of a cat was equated to the death of a family member. They were mummified and mourned. They were the symbol of Bastet, the cat-headed Goddess of Protection.
- Europeans: During the Middle Ages, Europeans associated Black Cats with witchcraft. Some elderly, solitary women who often fed and cared for stray cats were misidentified as witches and the cats as their conspirators.
- The Pilgrims in America: The Pilgrims brought with them a devout faith in the Bible. God was light and Satan was darkness or blackness. The Pilgrims were a deeply suspicious group and deemed anything that might be associated with Satan as evil. Anyone caught with a Black Cat would be severely punished or even killed. The Black Cat was perceived as part demon and part sorcery.
- Fisherman and their wives saw Black Cats as good luck with many keeping them on their ships and in their homes. Black Cats became so highly valued that some could not afford them.
- If you’re a pirate, it gets even more complicated. If a Black Cat walks towards you, it’s bad luck. If it walks away, that’s good. If the cat walks onto the ship and then back off, get off the ship because it’s going to sink.
The following are “General Interesting Factoids” about Black Cats:
- There is no one breed of Black Cat.
- There are 22 cat breeds in the Cat Fanciers Association directory that list “black” as a color option.
- Many Black Cats have golden eyes, which is the result of their high melanin pigment content. The contrast in eye color to coat make black cats mysterious and sometimes foreboding.
- The color black is associated with metaphysics and spiritual avenues. A pair of gold eyes shining from a shroud of black fur is very intimidating to some. Thus, some cultures associate black cats with unfavorable qualities and bad fortune.
- Black Cats can be boys or girls, but more are male than female.
- STUDY of the color ‘black’ as related to different cultures, clothing and religions lends some insight into why and how black cats are variously perceived or misperceived. To some degree, black has been associated with anarchism…including terrorism. Note that the ISIL flag is nearly all black.
The following are “known” or iconic Black Cats:
- India ‘Willie’ Bush: an all-black, female American Shorthair, was adopted by the Bushes when their twin daughters were nine years old. The cat lived at the White House but was overshadowed by the Bushes’ Scottish Terriers. ‘Willie’ is seen in the “Barneycam” videos produced by the White House staff around Christmas time. She died at the White House in 2009.
- Gobbolino: the Witch’s Cat (a children’s novel): Gobbolino is a little black kitten born in a witch’s cave high up on Hurricane Mountain with one white paw after it was bathed in moonlight. His pure black twin sister, Sootica, was happy to be a witch’s cat with magical powers. But Gobbolino longs to be a humble kitchen cat without magical witches' powers. He embarks on a great adventure to be something that he isn't.
- Trim: a ship’s black cat that accompanied Matthew Flinders on his voyages to circumnavigate and map the coastline of Australia in 1801 – 1803. Trim was born in 1799 aboard the ship HMS Reliance. He fell overboard but managed to swim back to the vessel and climb aboard by scaling a rope. Noting his strong survival instinct and intelligence, the crew made him their favorite. He later survived the shipwreck of the Porpoise on Wreck Reef in 1803. When Flinders was accused of spying and imprisoned by the French in Mauritius, Trim shared Flinders captivity until he mysteriously disappearred. Flinders wrote a biographical tribute to Trim. There are statues of Trim in Sydney, Australia as well as in New South Wales and England.
- Bad Luck Blackie: a 1949 animated cartoon featuring a black cat with magical powers rescuing a white kitten from attacks by Spike, a large white bull-dog.
- Oscar: an all black cat living on Channel Island of Jersey. In 2009, (at the age of 2 ½) Oscar’s hind paws were severed by a combine-harvester near his home. Oscar was flown to England for a pioneering surgery by Noel Fitzpatrick to add prosthetic feet. The surgery had never been done before on animal or human. The surgical procedure has since been used on at least one human. The book called “Oscar the Bionic Cat” can be purchased at Amazon. Oscar has been featured in a BBC documentary titled “The Bionic Vet;” on YouTube (shows Oscar with some better designed feet) – a must watch; and on the TV series ‘Supervet.” Oscar holds two Guinness World Records. One for being the first animal with two bionic leg implants and the other for being the first animal to receive implants into its moving joints.
- Pluto, “The Black Cat:” a macabre short story by Edgar Allen Poe, published in 1843. NOT for young children!!! This is a story of a demented alcoholic who hangs his black cat. That night the man's house burns down leaving an etched impression of his cat with a rope around its neck on the wall of his house. He finds another cat just like it. When the cat trips him, he tries to kill that cat also but this time with an axe. He kills his wife who tries to stop him. He seals her body in a brick wall in the basement. When the police come looking for his wife, the police hear a mournful sound coming from within the wall. He had enclosed the cat with the body of his wife. I repeat, this is NOT a story for young children!!
- Felix, the Cat: a funny, black cat, animated cartoon character with a big grin from the silent films era.
- Hodge: beloved black cat of the famous English writer from the 1700’s: Dr. Samuel Johnson. There is a statue of Hodge outside his house in London.
- Thackery Binx: One of the tritagonists in Disney’s ‘Hocus Pocus.’ He is a little boy who is turned into an immortal black cat by witches.
Information for this article was summarized from the following websites: vettoknow.com, petco.com, Wikipedia and the book, “Cats for Dummies” by Gina Spadfori and Paul D. Pion, DVM.