What do you think when you see a black cat?
Do you mutter about superstitions and run screaming in the opposite direction or do you rub your hands together and watch approvingly while the black cat prowls past?
Is a black cat good luck or bad luck? I decided to research the subject for a definitive answer. Detective Shelley is on the case!
In Egypt all cats, including black ones, were held in high regard. Laws protected cats and when a pet died, the entire family would mourn. Both rich and poor families embalmed their deceased pets. Archaeologists have discovered entire pet cemeteries with mummified black cats fairly commonplace.
Fast forward in time to the Middle Ages. Cats overpopulated all the major cities. Any woman who owned or fed a stray black cat ran the risk of accusations of witchcraft.
Throughout history, black cats are blamed for causing disasters ranging from blasphemy to plague. Even today black cats get bad press and conjure up images of witchcraft and magic. Poe wrote about one, Hollywood makes movies and television series about them. Heck, even I write about them with my Middlemarch Mates series.
There are hundreds of superstitions associated with cats, probably because cats and humans have lived alongside each other for thousands of years. Let’s look at some of them.
A cat sneezing is a good omen for everyone who hears it. ~ Italian superstition.
If a cat washes behind its ears, rain is coming. ~ English superstition.
If a cat mews and appears cross, the ship and its passengers will have a hard voyage. ~ Sailor’s superstition.
A strange black cat on your porch brings prosperity. ~ Scottish superstition.
If you wash a cat, it will rain. ~ Indonesian/Malaysian superstition.
If you dream of a white cat, you’ll have good luck. ~ American superstition.
If you kill a cat, you’ll have seventeen years of bad luck. ~ Irish superstition.
In tasseography (tea-leaf reading) a cat signifies false friends and deceit or someone lying in ambush.
In the Netherlands cats were banned from rooms where private family discussions were taking place.
In Egypt it was thought the life-giving rays of the sun were kept in a cat’s eyes at night for safekeeping.
And of course during October, the silhouettes of black cats decorate many houses and shops for Halloween.
So what about black cats? Are they good or bad luck?
Well, it seems it depends on where you live in the world. For example in Britain and Japan having a black cat cross your path is considered good luck. If you live in the USA or in European countries you definitely don’t want a black cat strolling by because bad luck will surely follow. Now if you live in New Zealand, near the town of Middlemarch, seeing a black cat mightn’t be such a bad thing, especially if you’re a single girl looking for a man!
Note from Shelley: Look for My Scarlet Woman, book 1 in my Middlemarch Shifters series, which is coming soon. This is a reissue with some new content and brand new covers.
What do you think about black cats? Do you think they’re good luck or bad luck? Do you have any cat superstitions to add?