Halloween sparks images of pumpkins, ghosts, bats and for many, black cats. But why have our adorable feline friends gained a reputation for witchcraft or bad luck when they’re clearly just as cute as other cats?
Well the answer stems back hundreds of years…
Black cats have a longstanding association with the frightful or unlucky. Cultures across the globe have woven black cats into their mythology, giving them the rep they have today.
For example, the ancient Greeks told stories of Galinthias, a servant who was turned into a black cat out of anger by the greek goddess, Hera. According to legend, Galinthias then went on to serve Hecate, the Greek Goddess of death, witchcraft and ghosts.
Across the pond, our fellow Frenchman & Spaniards believed in medieval times that black cats were associated with witchcraft. And in Germany, if a cat crossed a path from left to right then any human soul would be cursed!
Conversely, back on English soil, King Charles I of England was convinced that his black cat brought him good luck. However, the day after the King’s black cat died, the English public were quick to overhaul this belief - as the very next day the King was tried for treason and beheaded!
But not all is bad, in many cultures black cats are believed to be symbols of good luck. In Scotland, for example, a black cat sitting on your doormat is seen to bring prosperity. And of course in Ancient Egypt, black cats were worshipped and believed to be sacred.
The connection with black cats and Halloween
Halloween is originally a US based festivity. If you look back 30 years in the UK, you’d be pressed to find much recognition of Halloween at all! But as with many things, the UK were quick to adopt Halloween from our American friends, and with it, the black cat superstition was transferred.
The United States has a history of puritan rituals and beliefs. Puritan Pilgrims famously distrusted anything to do with witchcraft and sorcery, and given their popular beliefs black cats were actively persecuted. These myths have shaped and influenced our modern day celebration of Halloween.
Debunking the myth
Luckily most cat owners know that the bad rep surrounding black cats is just that, a rep, which is unjust and ungrounded. Black cats are as fluffy, cute, loving and affectionate as any other cat - and Halloween should be a time to celebrate our feline friends.
For those of you who have a warm and loving home to offer, maybe adopting a black cat from a rescue centre would be a real way to to bring black cats the love they deserve. Recent claims have stated that black cats are more likely to be overseen at shelters, in favour of more colourful breeds & fur colours. Indeed, there’s even been a harrowing claim that the upsurge in social media has seen black cats fall further in popularity as they aren’t believed to photograph as well.
Rubbish! We hear you say - well we agree. And we could all draw on this upsetting claims and work hard to make sure black cats in shelters find a loving home this Halloween and all year round.
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