Cats have been widely beloved by humans since ancient times - but the black cat often gets a bad reputation. Whether it’s stealing souls or shifting shapes, it seems like our black feline friends have been accused of it all. But it hasn’t always been like this.
October 27 is National Black Cat Day in the USA, so we're celebrating the holiday in SG to take a look at the elusive history of the black cat! Let's explore some facts about black cats and show some love to these sometimes misunderstood sweethearts!
Ancient Egypt’s Beloved Black Cats
In around 2800 BC, while ancient Egypt was at its peak, cats were revered as guardians against evil spirits and disease. They were also excellent at catching rats and helped reduce illness in Egypt. In fact, anyone caught killing a cat could face the death penalty!
Black cats in particular were seen as representations of goddess Bastet, the protector of women and goddess of fertility and childbirth. They were well respected and treated with great love. The ancient Egyptians even believed that killing black cats would inflict plague and other disasters on humanity!
In the West, especially in Celtic nations, black cats symbolised great fortune and prosperity. Welsh lore even holds that a black cat arriving at your home is akin to a charm that chases illness away. On the other hand, other mythology saw the black cat as being associated with fairies or other mythical beings. One such story believed that monsters like the Cath Palug, a terrifying feline-like monster who killed over 180 warriors, came from the black cat.
This combination of positive and negative mythology turned the black cat into a symbol of both good and bad luck. One tradition states that it’s good luck for a black cat to walk toward you but bad luck if they’re walking away from you.
Beginning in the Middle Ages, black cats began to be associated with all things evil - from Satan to witches and witchcraft. Black cats were believed to be either companions of witches or even witches themselves, transformed into feline form.
Some people also believed Black cats were humans who had committed bad deeds but were forced to return to the world. But most often, Black cats began to be associated with Halloween. So get into the Halloween spirit by treating your feline friends with Grandma Lucy’s Pumpkin Pouch!
Black Cats At Sea
Ocean faring sailors and fishermen thought of black cats as excellent sailing companions. Some sailors believed cats could start storms through the magic stored in their tails. Others believed that black cats could predict the weather!
If a cat sneezed, it indicated rain was coming. Snoring cats meant that sailors should brace for bad weather. But if a cat groomed itself, good weather was likely coming.
Regardless, they were treated kindly because cats helped get rid of pesky rats. They were also protected well because sailors thought that if a ship’s cat went overboard, a terrible storm would be summoned to sink the ship. Even if it survived, it would be cursed with nine years of bad luck!
Over the course of black cat history, these adorable kitties have been surrounded by so much mystery and mystique.
Today, there are over 22 breeds of black cats. These black cat breeds are adorable and super lovable in their own way. Some notable breeds include the luxurious Bombay, adorable Chantilly-Tiffany, lion-like Maine Coon and even the calm and easygoing British Shorthair!
Black Cats Today
In modern times, most people no longer believe black cats are really witch familiars or predictors of weather. Despite that, they hold a strong place in popular culture, especially on Halloween!
Several popular TV shows and movies like “Sabrina” or “Hocus Pocus” feature black cats as the typecast “Halloween cat” - whether that’s as Sabrina the Witch’s friend or the cat incarnation of a boy transformed by witches.
Today, black cats are still less likely to be adopted as people are often more drawn to their more colourful counterparts. But things are getting better, as the stereotype of the evil black cat erodes away.
This October 27, make sure to celebrate Black Cat Day by spending some time with some black cats! You’ll realise they’re just as lovable as any other cat. Happy Black Cat Day and Halloween!
HERES TAMMI'S INFO
Tammi is an avid writer, but especially loves learning and writing about animals! She spends her free time visiting cat cafes, playing video games and having plenty of cuddle time with her pup.