What do acorns, ladders, black cats and the number 7 all have in common? They are all symbols of good luck. So why the stigma and reluctance for people to own black cats?
It’s no secret that black cats have been given a bit of a rough trot within Western lore, with a reputation of bad luck, evil, witchcraft, bad omens, etc. Which is a big turnaround, considering that once upon a time, cats were actually revered as Gods.
The ancient Egyptians are known for worshipping Bastet, a Cat Goddess, known for her protective spirit. Black cats were so highly regarded that killing one in ancient Egypt was considered a capital offence. When they did pass away, black cats were mummified and entombed with royal Pharaohs to ensure their rightful place in the afterlife.
Then arrived the Medieval times with the hysteria of the feared witch and black cat union. Beliefs spread that a black cat running into a house meant a witch lived there, and that black cats were their supernatural companions or even witches in disguise. As fear grew, innocent black cats and their owners were deemed as witches, and often submitted to witch trials and burning.
But while one culture may have blackened the name of the black cat many others have continued over the centuries to revere them as they deserve. For example:
Sailors throughout history have believed having a black cat on board will bring fair weather and ensure a safe journey.
Italians believe a sneezing black cat brings all of the good luck.
Affluence is believed to follow anyone who finds a stray black cat on their doorstep in Scotland, or even if a black cat enters one’s home.
In Latvia, black kittens appearing in a silo symbolise the arrival of a good harvest, courtesy of a spirit called Rungus.
The Welsh believe that black cats bring good health and wealth.
Black cats have long been associated with being lucky in love. Seeing a black cat on your wedding day is thought to bring good luck to the loved-up couple, and if newlyweds owned a black cat, it is thought to frighten away evil spirits and bring a lifetime of marital bliss.
In Britain, it’s believed that a black cat entering your home will bring many suitors, similar to Japan, where black cats are highly valued for attracting potential love matches. In Norse mythology, Freya, the goddess of love, fertility, and beauty, rode a chariot drawn by black cats.
Many cultures also believe and celebrate the good luck, health and fortune that black cats bequeath to their households. The Maneki Neko, or “fortune cat” commonly seen in Japan and for whom our rescue group is named are believed to draw good luck, wealth, and prosperity to their owners. A black Maneki Neko has the added benefit of frighten away evil spirits.
Despite moving on from being persecuted for owning a black cat, the stigma around them has stayed persistent. With many still believing the superstitions or subconsciously avoiding them, rendering black cats less likely to be adopted. Which is extremely disappointing in our day and age.
This October we would like to draw your attention to the many lovely black cats in our care currently looking for a family and home to bestow their good luck upon.
Give a black cat a chance and you will quickly see just how lucky they and you will be!