Often associated with bad luck, death and dying, black cats are also a key symbol of Halloween. Feared and revered in different cultures around the world, few other creatures have achieved the cult status of the black cat. Here are some fascinating factoids about black cats:
1. The black cat’s reputation as a vessel of evil dates back to the witch hunts of the Dark Ages. Elderly, solitary women were most often the ones accused of witchcraft. Since they tended to keep cats for company, these animals were said to be their witches’ “familiars,” given to them by the devil. In fact, one myth has it that Satan turned himself into a black cat in order to socialize with witches without being recognized.
2. Western mythology holds that if a black cat crosses your path it will bring you bad luck. If this should happen while driving, you should turn your hat around backwards and mark an X on your windshield. You may feel better, but won’t you look silly!
3. Black cats aren’t considered unlucky everywhere. In Japan and the U.K., black cats are actually said to bring good luck.
4. If a funeral procession meets up with a black cat, it’s believed to foretell the death of still another family member.
5. People in 16th century Italy believed that if someone was ill, that person would die if a black cat were to lie on their bed.
6. While a black cat may bring bad luck, if the animal has a stray white hair, that’s considered good luck. But don’t pluck it or your luck will run out!
7. According to Scottish lore, if a strange black cat turns up on your porch, it will bring prosperity to the owner of the house.
8. Pirates of the 18th century believed that a black cat could bring both good and bad luck. If the animal walks towards you, you will have bad luck. If it walks away from you, then you will have good luck. If a black cat strolls onto a ship and off it, the vessel is doomed to sink on its next voyage.
9. In the early days of television in America, TV stations designated VHF channel 13 often made sport of being located on such an unlucky channel number by featuring a black cat as their mascot.
10. Published in Boston, MA from 1895 to 1920, The Black Cat was an American literary magazine that specialized in short stories of an “unusual” nature.
All kidding aside, black cats have only half as much chance of being adopted from an animal shelter as others, due to their unfortunate association with bad luck. Just something to think about next time you’re in the market for a furry companion!
And if a black cat crosses your path this week, turn your hat around backwards, put an X on your windshield, then go online and buy a ticket to Cutting Edge Haunted House.