It's National Black Cat Day! So I decided to sit down an educate myself on this mysterious furry felines.

 

Cats are awesome. They're fuzzy, cuddly, and they go to the bathroom by themselves. I will admit, sometimes they get a little crazy, especially with their razor fingers...But they mean well. (I think). But if cats are so cool, why are black cats considered bad luck?

In Egypt cats used to be worshiped like gods. So how did we go from "Oh my god, cats are so awesome that we must worship them" to "Oh my god, was that a black cat? UGH! My day is ruined!" ?

So why are cats bad luck?

In Norse mythology the goddess of death, Freyja, rode a chariot pulled by two giant cats, and was also known for practicing witchcraft. Which kind of makes you a little paranoid as a Norseman if you saw a cat. Is it a normal cat? Or is Freyja near...?

In Scottish folklore there is a fairy called a Cat Sith, which sounds like a Star Wars movie I would pay good money to see. But the Cat Sith is a giant black cat with a white spot on its chest that was believed to have the ability to steal the soul of the dead before the gods came to claim it.

But, on the other hand, if a random black cat shows up on your doorstep in Scotland, that's actually considered a good omen. And if you hear a cat sneeze in Italy it's good luck.

But don't let a black cat be in the same room as you when you're having a conversation in the Netherlands, because they might go spreading some hot gossip about you. I'm not making that up. That's an actually superstition in the Netherlands...

But apart from fiction, there is fact.

Back in the Middle Ages when the black plague started doing it's "1349 World Tour" and wiping out most of Europe, people thought that the cause of the plague was cats. They live outside, they're dirty, they travel and can carry the disease to various places. So everyone started killing cats. Cats were bad luck because they "spread disease".

The whole "cat killing" plan backfired though, when you realize that the plague was spread by flea infested rats. And who kills rats? Cats. No cats, more rats, more disease. Oops.

But the most widely held belief about our aversion to black cats stems from witches. Today, stereotypical witches are commonly associated with black cats. (Take a look down the Halloween aisle next time your at the store if you don't believe me.) Supposedly, witches kept cats as "familiars" and "companions". And since cats are very independent and semi-nocturnal, they were deemed as evil. Because being independent and having a good time a night was a big no-no in medieval Europe. Also, black cats were still known for being associated with Egyptian gods and goddesses, which wasn't a big hit with the Catholics.

So, are black cats bad luck? No. They just have a lot of negative stigma surrounding them.

But there is one positive thing that comes out of this negativity. Because people have such a superstition about black cats, they aren't exactly the go-to cats to get adopted at shelters. Which means that around this time each year shelters have discounts specifically on black cats. Which is how I got my little demon last year. (And I say "demon" in the most loving way.)

Side note about black cats: excellent head warmers.

Chynna Hall

 

So the next time you see a black cat cross your path, it doesn't mean you're going to have a string of bad luck. It just means that cat has some place to be.

 

 

(Sources: Mentalfloss, Timelessmyths, Crystalinks)