Black Cats: Unlucky (for some)

I love black cats and always have.  We currently have two, Mog and Lily, a sibling duo who like to think they are in charge of our house.  They love the smell of a Sunday roast, sitting in a spot of sunshine and bringing in gifts of the dead mouse variety.  We love them.

Cats are clever and sensitive creatures.  Our cats have been known to be distressed hours before a thunderstorm starts, or to sit on the windowsill ready to be let in a good ten minutes before we arrive home.  They also do that unnerving thing of looking intently at things that we cannot see; we often say they are seeing ghosts.  Spooky!

Black cats are associated with Halloween
Black cats are associated with Halloween

Black cats especially are a big deal in folklore.  Some think they are lucky, especially if they run across your path and you don’t have to swerve to avoid them.  Others think they are unlucky and associate them with dark magic.  What do you think?

It has been widely reported that black cats in animal shelters are less likely to be adopted by their white, grey, ginger and so on, counterparts.  Have they really got such a reputation that people are scared to have them in their homes?

Mildred Hubble from The Worst Witch with her tabby cat

Black cats, of course, are often linked to witches in books and films.  The black cat and witch connection plays a key role in Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch, when Mildred Hubble’s reputation as the worst witch at Cackle’s Academy is further cemented when she is presented with a tabby kitten rather than a black one.  But why does a witch’s cat have to be black?  Perhaps it is because the black cat was adopted as a symbol of Wicca in 1930s England, but the roots of this connection seem to go back for centuries.

In superstitious 17th century Britain, many believed that black cats were witches’ familiars, helping them to carry out their wicked deeds.  Some even believed that black cats were witches who had transformed themselves into animals as a disguise.  Both are obviously highly unlikely, but in the unfortunate instance of a cat being deemed as a pet or incarnation of a witch, it would be killed.  Many were burned alive.  Poor pussycats!

In more horrible cat news, some think the connection between black cats and witchcraft is due to cats being used as a sacrifice in rituals of magic and worship.  Cats are thought to have nine lives due to their ability to ‘shape-shift’ back and forth as witches, but any poor puss who found itself being offered up as a gift to Satan would not have benefited from any additional lives.

Our cat, Lily

Black cats are still widely connected with folklore and witchcraft.  Halloween decorations are often adorned with black cats perched on a broomstick.  Films, programmes and books will continue to cast black cats in stories of witchcraft.  Thankfully though, these days, domestic cats are also appreciated as family pets or mousers.

Our black moggy cats are much loved as part of our family, though it would be interesting to see if they do have the ability to balance on a broomstick!


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