Good or Bad Luck? 30 Black Cat Superstitions, Legends and Facts
Black cats. No other cat has such notoriety. Their inky-black fur and yellow eyes creep some people out while equally drawing others in. From witch familiars to pets of a goddess, one thing is for sure: Black cats have a large role in history, mystery and folklore.
Curl up with your own kitty as you read these 30 black cat superstitions, myths and facts. And then decide for yourself, are black cats a good or bad omen?
Black Cats Are Often Pets of Witches
For as long as there have been stories about witches, black cats have been associated with them. Called familiars, these “pets” were usually a connection to the Devil, often a present from him to the witch.
In some tales, it was believed they were really demons that fed off the witch’s own blood.
Black Cats Are Associated With an Egyptian Goddess
Bastet (often called Bast) is an Egyptian goddess, daughter of Re, the sun god, who is often seen in the form of a black cat. She was worshipped for good things, being the goddess of the home, fertility, women’s secrets, cats and childbirth.
She protected the home from evil, including disease. In Bast, the black cat was not seen as a bad thing, but a good omen and one you would revere if you wanted to have a child and keep those in your home healthy.
If a Black Cat Sits on an Ill Person’s Bed, It's Considered a Bad Omen
In Italy during the 16th century, black cats were not looked upon as good luck.
In fact, if a black cat jumped up on the bed of someone who was ill, it was believed that the person would die soon.
Black Cats Attract Good Husbands
At least, the Japanese think they do! In Japan, black cats (along with all others) are a symbol of good luck.
And if you are a single woman, having a black cat is thought to attract a reputable man to be your husband.
Stray Black Cats Bring Good Luck
In Scotland, if a stray black cat chooses to come to your home, it is believed you will have good luck.
So, it might be a good time to bring out some cat food to leave on your front porch … who knows what cat my cross your path?
Black Cats on Porches Are a Good Omen
Not surprisingly, in neighboring Ireland, a black cat sitting on your porch is also a sign of good luck.
It’s just one more reason to always have yummy morals on hand that attract good-luck cats to your porch.
Black Cats Sink Ships
While the black cat may be welcomed on your porch, for those at sea, the black cat was a precursor to doom.
Many seamen used to believe that if a black cat walked onto a ship and then got off, the ship would sink at sea.
But Not Black Cats That Live on a Ship
OK, a black cat that goes and comes on a ship can be a bad sign, but others believe a black cat that lives on a ship is lucky.
If nothing else, they keep the rodent population at bay, and since rodents carry disease, they might actually bring good luck to the crew!
It's Bad Luck If a Black Cat Crosses Your Path
In Europe, a black cat crossing your path is bad luck … at least they believed it was during the Black Plague. During that time, they believed if a black cat crossed one’s path, it meant you would soon die of the plague.
That said, it’s possible this superstition came about because cats would follow rats, which did carry the plague.
In America, However, That Bad Luck Can Be Prevented
Those living in the Appalachians also believed a black cat crossing your path was bad, like their European ancestors.
However, they believed if you drew three “Xs” in the air before the cat finished crossing your path, you could prevent whatever bad luck they brought with them.
Actually, It Depends on What Direction the Cat Is Coming From
OK, this cat really needs to decide which side of the road to stay on! Yet another country has a thing about black cats crossing your path … but they take a different approach when determining whether or not it’s good or bad luck.
In Germany, the direction the cat crosses your path determines whether it’s good or bad: If it crosses right to left, it’s a bad omen, but left to right, you’re in luck!
Black Cats Predict the Weather
We bet you’ve heard the saying, “It’s raining cats and dogs.”
Well, get this, in Norse mythology, witches rode their brooms during storms, and because they had cats, it became a sign that heavy rain was coming. In Wales, it was also believed that rain was coming if a cat was seen busily washing its ears.
Have a Stye? Get a Black Cat
Have a stye on your eyelid? There’s no need to call the doctor, just get a black cat!
According to Appalachian legend, rubbing a black cat’s tail on it will get rid of the stye.
Worshipping the Devil Cat
In Scotland, there is a large stone called the Clach Tagniarn nan Cat, or The Stone of the Devil Cat.
Scottish folklore states that a gang of wild black cats would appear here every year on Halloween to welcome and maybe even worship, the large black Devil Cat.
Put Your Black Cat to Bed on the North Side of Your House
In China, black cats are a good omen.
Some Chinese people even believe that a cat should sleep on the north side of the house to ward off evil.
A Black Cat’s Coat Can Get Bleached by the Sun
You may have seen black cats outside that have red or copper “highlights.” These are hairs that have been faded, or bleached, by the sun.
The same thing happens to other species of animals with black coats, including dogs and horses.
Black Cats Are Alter Egos for Witches
In Hungarian folklore, a black cat was thought to be a witch’s alter ego, or their double.
It was often believed that you could not tell which was the witch and which was the cat, according to the “Encyclopedia of Witchcraft.”
The Bombay Is the Only All-Black Cat Breed
While many breeds of cats can produce a black kitten, the Bombay is the only breed of cat that is all black.
The breed was created to resemble a mini panther.
Even Black Cats Get White Hair
A white hair on a young, black cat can actually be a sign of illness, so get that checked out!
But some cultures believe that every black cat has one white hair, and if you manage to pull it out without getting scratched, you can count on a happy marriage. Ummm, we’ll let you try that and tell us if it works!
Maneki Neko Can Be a Black Cat
As previously mentioned, the Japanese think all cats, including black ones, are good luck. In fact, their famous “beckoning cat,” Maneki Neko, is often seen as a black cat. The black ones are said to not only be welcoming and bring good luck, but they also ward off evil.
Putting this figurine in your home or office is sure to bring you some good luck or at least brighten your day every time you look at his cute face!
21 Recognized Cat Breeds Have Black Cats
While the Bombay may be the only all-black cat breed, 21 other breeds recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association also come in black.
These include the America Curl, American Bobtail, Japanese Bobotail, America Shorthair, Cornish Rex, Selkirk Rex, Devon Rex, British Shorthair, Siberian, Exotic, LaPerm, Manx, Maine Coone, Norwegian Forest Cat, Persian, Oriental, Ragamuffin, Scottish Fold, Sphynx and Turkish Angora.
Black Cats at the Theater
The theater is known for having many superstitions, including the famous “break a leg.”
What you may not know is that it’s actually good luck to have a black cat in your theater — as long as it doesn’t run across the stage, then it’s bad luck. And definitely don’t kick the cat; not only is it mean, but evil will follow you.
Something Borrowed, Something Old, Something … Black?
In England, giving a bride a black cat as a wedding present was thought to bring good luck to the new couple.
If nothing else, the newlyweds will have warm laps and fewer mice!
Black Cats Can Have Yellow or Green Eyes
While most black cats have yellow eyes, they can also have green ones.
The yellow eyes are caused by an excess of melanin, which is also what gives them their luxurious black coat.
Black Cats Mean Wealth
In the South of France, black cats are definitely lucky. In fact, if you treat one with respect, you may just be repaid with good fortune, including wealth!
These “money cats” or matagots like to be given the first bite of your dinner and a nice place to sleep.
Black Cats Find Treasure
Another French folktale said that, if you placed a black cat at a crossroads where five roads meet (not something found often!), then it would lead to treasure.
We would think finding a five-road intersection would be harder to find than the treasure, but maybe that wasn’t the case centuries ago.
Black Cats Are Popular in Movies and Shows
If having a cat in your theater is good luck, having one star in your show must make it an instant hit! Hollywood certainly loves to use black cats.
Popular movies and shows that have famous black cats include “Hocus Pocus,” “The Simpsons,” “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” “Coraline,” “Escape to Witch Mountain” and “Felix the Cat,” to name just a few.
Black Cats Have Their Own Holidays
Another cool thing about black cats, whether you think they are good or bad luck, is that they have their own holidays! In the U.S., Aug. 17 is Black Cat Appreciation Day and October is Black Cat Awareness Month.
In England, National Black Cat Day is Oct. 27.
Dreaming of Black Cats Can Signify Fear
Dreaming of black cats is thought to mean you are experiencing fear.
It does not necessarily mean bad luck or evil, but it does mean you need to face your fears, especially if the black cat is attacking you.
Leave Milk Out for Freya’s Black Cats During Harvest Season
Freya is a Norse goddess associated with fertility, love, beauty and war. She is often depicted driving a chariot pulled by large black cats.
Want a good harvest? Then you should leave a bowl of milk out for her feisty felines that will bless you after their tasty snack.