Cats have always been given a bad reputation through no fault of their own. Though they are aloof creatures and are the polar opposite of dogs but that doesn’t make them bad or evil, just different. Throughout the ages cats have been seen as a symbol of evil or necromancy. They have been associated with witches and the devil. Though white or brown cats are still appreciated in some parts of the world black cats are always frowned upon. To find the answer as to why black cats are thoroughly hated we must go back in time to where all the myths and rumours started.
There are many legends regarding black cats, some good some bad and these myths differ from country to country. Here are some stories that you should know about. In Britain black cats are believed to bring good fortune and they were also given to new brides as a symbol of good luck. In Japan it is believed that a woman who has a pet black cat will have many people wooing her. In the Celtic mythology it is believed that a fairy known as the cat sith takes the form of a black cat. The Scottish though that the appearance of a black cat was a symbol of prosperity.
In other cultures like in the west cats were seen as a bad omen and were believed to be associated with witches and dark magic. They also consider it unlucky if a cat crosses your path. What is more ridiculous is that it is believed that if you are going to the casino and a black cat crosses your path you should turn around and leave and not go forward and enter the casino because it is sure to bring bad luck to the gambler. Germans believed that if a black cat crosses your path from left to right then it is fortunate but if it crosses from right to left then is unlucky.
During the Middle Ages or dark ages this superstition led to the death of many cats because people associated them with witches and they were burnt in bonfires. This led to the overpopulation of rats and other rodents which ultimately lead to the bubonic plague. This was prevalent in Europe but never in England.
Not all myths associated with the black cat were bad some were also good. Cats were held in high regard by the Egyptians and were prayed to because of the Egyptian goddess Bast. It was believed that by keeping black cats at home people could earn favours from the goddess.
Charles I treasured his black cat and considered it to be lucky. Upon the death of his cat he thought all his good luck was gone and sure enough he was arrested the very next day for treason. Pirates have a whole different set of myths regarding black cats. According to them if a black cat comes towards you, you are sure to have some bad luck whereas if a cat walks away from you, you will have some good luck. They also believed that if a cat gets on a ship and then leaves it that ship is bound is sink on its next voyage.
The myth which says that witches turn into black cats at night has its roots in a tale that dates back to the 16th century. A father and a son were travelling late one night on a moonless night. They saw a black cat crossing their path and pelted it with stones until the cat ran into a woman’s home who was then suspected of being a witch. The next morning the duo saw the woman whose house the cat had entered, limping and bruised and thus the myth began. During Halloween most animal shelters don’t let people adopt black cats due to fear that they may be tortured and killed by superstitious people who still consider them unlucky. Throughout the world different cultures have different folklores regarding the black cat. Some say good things about it while others associate with death and misfortune. For example an Irish superstition says that if a cat crosses your path by moonlight it means that your death will happen in an epidemic whereas an English proverb says “whenever the house of the cat is black, the lasses of lovers will have no lack”.
The cat is a very wonderful and playful creature and if properly trained they can also play fetch like dogs. The black cat can’t help it if it is born with a black coat. It is no different than our regular white or brown cats. What is more unfortunate is that due to these absurd myths black cats are adopted less compared to cats of other colours. It is really sad that due to the beliefs of some superstitious people centuries back, the black cats are paying a price till today. Not only black cats but in general cats aren’t kept as pets in many households. Because of their agility, stealth and independence they are looked down upon. Cats are low maintenance pets and they know when their owner needs them and when their presence is not required. They do not keep doting on their owners like dogs do that does not make them indifferent creatures just different. Dogs and cats are a totally different species and this must be kept in mind. Neither can become like the other. Cats are unique in their own way and make wonderful pets to people who love them and take care of them properly.