Centuries-old folklore goes into overdrive during the Halloween season. Scary ghost stories and eerie tales of hauntings go hand in hand with black cats with soul-piercing glowing eyes and vampire’s teeth. But why are black cats notoriously associated with Halloween? Surely, there’s no truth to those old tales, yet why are they so hard to photograph and why are there so many black cats in shelters?
Black cats are devilish
Fiction: Talk about being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The black cat’s unfortunate bad rap dates as far back as the Dark Ages, when witchcraft and witch hunts were commonplace. Black cats, who were most often pets of older women living alone, got thrown into the myth and dubbed the demonic companions of witches and accomplices in witchcraft. Other tales continued for years that Satan turned into a cat while socialising with witches. From then on, the myth was perpetuated – in stories, movies, and Halloween decor of the image of an older woman dressed as a witch stirring potions in a boiling cauldron with a black cat perched nearby.
Black cats bring good luck – and bad
Fiction: Superstitions abound depending on where you live. A black cat can be good luck or bad. In Celtic folklore, creatures of the spirit world took the form of large black cats with a white spot on their chest know as the Cait Sidhe. This folklore was a mixed bag. Cait Sidhe was something to fear, or one that could bestow some major blessings on your doorstep. In Japan, the Maneki Neko (or fortune cat) gold figurine, symbolises wealth and prosperity. If the figurine is black, it’s said to ward off evil spirits.
There’s no proof black cats bring luck of any kind, but some pet parents feel lucky to have a black cat. “The luckiest thing that ever happened to me was finding my cat Coco as a kitten,” says Hannah Shaw – aka The Kitten Lady, a kitten rescue expert, and humane educator who works with Royal Canin to train active and prospective foster parents. “She changed my entire life for the better, and I can’t think of anything more lucky than having a black cat as a best friend!”