From the Black Plague to the Salem Witch Trials, Black Cats Have a Dark History

If a black cat crosses your path, is it really bad luck?

Black cats are a classic Halloween symbol. Some believe cats are witches in disguise! Around Halloween, we all start to see these 'scary' symbols yet cat black cat folklore is prominent in some countries throughout the year.  Thankfully in Asia and the U.K., the black cat is considered lucky.

Why are black cats considered a 'scary' symbol around Halloween?

They've long been considered an object of superstition. Are you cursed if a black cat crosses your path? tell us in Medieval France and Spain, black cats were considered bringers of bad luck and curses to any human they came near and were associated with witchcraft. 

Check out this cat fact:

"It's not known exactly how and why cats became associated with the Devil in the Middle Ages, but the belief was so persistent that they were all but exterminated during the Black Death pandemic around 1348 CE."

Then the plague got worse as those cats were all eating the rodents that carried the plague!

What about here in America? 

We can thank the pilgrims in Plymouth County for the bad reputation black cats have here in the States. Those green eyes are spooky!

"The Puritan Pilgrims distrusted anything associated with witches and sorcery, including black cats. They actively persecuted black cats - it became a practice to burn black cats on Shrove Tuesday to protect the home from fire. After the anti-witch zeal had subsided in the colonies, black cats had been thoroughly cemented in popular legend right alongside witches."

Thanks to the dark ages and witch hunts, black cats have been a target forever. Older, single women were often accused of witchcraft, and their pet cats were said to be their "familiars," or demonic animals that had been given to them by the devil. This clearly caught on and Halloween traditions only reinforce it year after year. 

Despite all of this, go adopt a black cat from a shelter! Don't let any of this get in the way of bringing home an animal that may not get adopted. We think all cats are good luck and when a strange black cat crosses my path I assume I'm going to have a great day and I certainly don't think they're a bad omen.

This post was originally published on September 16, 2019.

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READ MORE: 10 Black Cats That'll Change Your Mind About "Superstitions"