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In Britain, black cats have had a tough time over the years. They’re much harder to home than other colourful kitties, and there are many superstitions and myths that suggest that these inky black felines bring bad luck to those whose path they cross. There are a lot more black stray cats left wandering the streets, with statistics showing that it takes 22% longer to rehome a black cat than any other colour.
In awareness of National Black Cat Day, and with Halloween on the horizon, we’re celebrating the beauty of the black cat, by unearthing some of the strangest black cat superstitions from around the world.
Although superstitions about black cats usually involve them being unlucky, there are plenty of people around the globe who believe that black cats actually bring good luck. Many years ago, in Ancient Egypt, cats were worshiped, and black cats in particular were considered sacred. The religion of this time included feline gods, such as Mafdet and Bastet (shown as having the head of a black cat), who were seen as protective to the often dangerous lives of the Ancient Egyptians. This protective reputation was due to cat’s killing the snakes and scorpions that regularly threatened their owners, and so, a cat around the home was seen as being lucky.
Black cats are also seen as bringing good luck in Japan, and if you’ve been to this fascinating country you may have seen the ‘Fortune Cats’ or ‘Maneki Neko’ figurines dotted around. Their raised paws are rumoured to draw good luck, wealth, and prosperity to their owners. In Japan, many also believe that black cats can heal sick children and protect against evil. And it’s not just Japan who think these beautiful cats are lucky either. Here in England, it’s considered good luck to give a bride a black cat on her wedding day, as it’s said to mean she’ll have a long and happy marriage.
Although many in northern France believe black cats bring bad luck, plenty of people in the south of France call them ‘matagot’ or ‘magician cats’. If the cat is shown respect from their owner, it’s said that they will reward them with wealth and good luck. Many years ago, French peasants would follow a black cat if they saw it at a crossroads, as they believed it would lead them to treasure.
People in Germany also have a similar view, and they believe that if a black cat crosses in front of you from left to right, it’s granting you favourable times. However, if the cat crosses you from right to left, then it is extremely unlucky.
There are also myths about black cats sitting in the audience of a play, and here in Britain it’s believed that there is no better audience member than a black cat. People in theatre jump for joy if one is spotted in the audience of a play on its opening night, as it means the production will have a long and successful run.
The common theories about black cats being unlucky goes back centuries, and superstitions like this can often relate back to witchcraft. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that they would help witches with their magic and spells, and some even thought that witches could morph into their black cat.
Although a black cat crossing your path is lucky in some countries, these cute and cuddly cats aren’t so lucky in Italy. Many Italians believe that black cats are a sign of witchcraft and the devil, with some thinking that if one lays on a sick person’s bed, then death will quickly follow.
Many years ago, some areas of Scotland also had a similar theory. It’s said that people in Scotland once believed in a fairy known as ‘Cat Sith’, a giant black cat with a small white spot on his chest. ‘Cat Sith’ was said to have the ability to steal a dead person’s soul before the Gods could take it, which led to a night and day watch called the ‘Late Wake’, where people guarded dead bodies before burial. All of these references to witchcraft is why the black cat is a popular fancy dress costume for Halloween across the globe.
As well as Scotland and Italy, many Americans also hold the belief that if a black cat walks in front of you in any direction, it will bring you bad luck. In North America, there’s a strong superstition that if a black cat crosses your path it’s unlucky, but if the cat is white it will bring you good luck.
Sailors around the world are known for holding a variety of superstitions, and it’s no surprise to find myths around black cats being included in these. In the 19th century, it’s said that sailors would keep a black cat on their ship to bring them good luck. These types of cats were also owned by fisherman’s wives, as they believed this would mean their husbands would return home from sea, safe and unharmed. Some pirates weren’t so positive though, and if they saw a black cat walking in their direction, they’d think this was a sign of upcoming bad luck. However, if the cat was walking away from them, this would mean good luck was to come. Many pirates also believed that if a black cat walked on to a pirate ship and then walked straight back off, the ship was doomed and likely to sink on its next voyage out to sea.
Here at Asda Money, we appreciate all cats, no matter whether they’re black, white, tabby or even multi-coloured. So, we want to champion all the ways you can help in your local community, either by simply reporting an abandoned cat, looking at adopting a cat from a local shelter, or even volunteering to work at one. If you’re interested in how you could help, visit Cats Protection or Blue Cross for useful tips and advice. And if you do decide to give a cat or kitten a home, fully comprehensive pet insurance is always recommended. If you have any questions about Asda Money Pet Insurance, call us on 0800 181 4904 and we’ll be happy to help.
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