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Happy National Black Cat Day, check out these six insane black cat superstitions

These furry cuties deserve more love!

black cat staring contentedly
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Oct. 27 marks National Black Cat Day. It’s a day to celebrate the most unjustly feared — yet rightfully respected — breed of cat, as well as the perfect way to get people in the mood for arguably the country’s most-loved holiday, which is coming up in just a few days: Halloween.

Known for being the loyal companions of wicked witches, black cats have become associated with misfortune and curses. To celebrate this very special day, let’s explore some of the most unbelievable black cat superstitions that have grown in the imaginations of believers for centuries now.

Black cats are demonic

black cat mom and kitten
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Cats have always been associated with the supernatural, for better or for worse. In Ancient Egypt, they were worshiped as divine creatures, and in Greek mythology they were known as the companions of Hecate – the goddess of the moon, sorcery, and witchcraft. With the advent of Christianity, especially Catholicism, this type of pagan fame wasn’t very well received.

Black cats, like all cats, are mostly nocturnal, and roam at night. Their dark, glowing bright eyes, and elusive movements became synonymous with mystery and evil. According to the History channel website, a 13th century official church document declared black cats an “incarnation of Satan.”

Black cats are shape-shifters

black cat in snow
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A lot of the bad reputation that black cats have earned comes from their association with witches. The Catholic church saw witches as heretics for contradicting Christian belief, and accused them of being in cahoots with the Devil.

Witches’ belief in nature’s inherent mystical power led to a deep connection with the animal kingdom. With cats being historically associated with the divine and magic, they became the perfect companions.

In Sottish and Irish folklore, the figure of the cat-sìth — or the fairy cat — represents a large black cat with a white spot on its chest, believed to have spiritual powers. Some claimed cat-sìths were actually witches who could shape-shift into cat form. It was said they could transform into the cat-sìth eight times. If they were to transform a ninth time they would remain in cat form for the rest of their lives. This is also often credited as the origin for the myth of a cat’s nine lives.

Black cat sightings bring bad luck

spooked black cat with hackles up
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The most common superstition surrounding black cats is that seeing one might be a bad omen for the future. This is, of course, related to the beliefs in their demonic energies, as well as their association with witches.

Witches have the abilities to cast spells and curses. Those who believe witches only use dark magic will understandably fear them, and since black cats are either their pets or them in disguise, if you spot one, then that probably means a witch is nearby, and that’s never good news.

Black cats and death

close-up black cat face
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In medieval times black animals — such as black cats or ravens — were seen as harbingers of death. So, for some, the sighting of a black cat doesn’t just mean bad luck, but the worst luck of all.

Accordingly, there’s a popular belief that a black cat crossing paths with a funeral forecasts another death in the family. A German superstition says that a black cat showing up at a sick person’s bedside means they will die soon, and — in Irish folklore — if a black cat passes by you at midnight, you will die in an epidemic.

Black cats and sailors

black cat peeking out of basket mischievously
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It’s not all bad for black cats, however. This gorgeous feline breed is loved by one very specific community: sailors.

Back in the day, sailors would adopt black cats as their ship’s mascot. They were the easiest pet to find roaming in the streets, since no one wanted them in their homes. Wives of fishermen in the 1900s would also often keep black cats as pets because it was said their supernatural powers would keep their husbands safe at sea.

Black cats and Halloween

black cat licking his chops
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As Halloween approaches, black cats will pop up everywhere as one of the most iconic symbols of the holiday. This correlation could be credited to their association with witches, but also to the Gaelic festival of Samhain.

Samhain is known as the origin of Halloween. Festivities begin on the evening of October 31 to celebrate the arrival of winter, and the end of the harvest season. One of this holiday’s traditions was to leave out a saucer of milk for the cat-sìth so it would bring you blessings. It was believed that if one of these mystical creatures passed by your house during the holiday and did not find an offering, it would curse you instead.

All of these superstitions are just that – superstitions. However, studies show that black cats are less likely to be adopted in shelters due to this unfair bad reputation. So, take this National Black Cat Day as an opportunity to give these furry friends a chance!

Francisca Tinoco
About the author

Francisca Tinoco

Francisca is a pop culture enthusiast and film expert. Her Bachelor's Degree in Communication Sciences from Nova University in Portugal and Master's Degree in Film Studies from Oxford Brookes University in the UK have allowed her to combine her love for writing with her love for the movies. She's a freelance writer and content creator, working in both the English and Portuguese languages for various platforms, including WGTC.