Bad Luck or Good?
"A black cat crossing your path signifies
that the animal is going somewhere."
Photo of Bombay used under the GFDL
Black cats have been known throughout history for being bad luck. Interestingly, these felines are also known for being harbingers of good fortune as well, depending upon who you ask.
There are many myths about cats. For example, you may have heard the myth that white cats make bad mothers. But by far, more myths, legends, and sayings revolve around cats with black coats than any other.
While the black cat is a coat color rather than a breed, there are domestic feline breeds that are black in color, or have a fair amount of black in their coats.
In fact, the Bombay cat breed, with it's jet black coat, is said to look like a miniature panther. As we know from the big cat fact page, panthers are actually not solid black.
Myths, Fact, and Superstition Surrounding Black Cats
- It is believed by many in different parts of the world that every black cat has at least one white hair. If you can manage to locate and pull out that one white hair without getting scratched, a happy marriage is in store for you.
- In the theater, black cats are considered good luck. In fact, over the years so many stories of great performances being delivered after seeing one have prompted some actors to actually bring one of their own to the show.
- In Japan and Britain, a black cat crossing your path is a harbinger of good luck, not bad.
- Winston Churchill was a famous cat lover. He became the Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1940, when his black cat Nelson was given a chair in the Cabinet, right next to Churchill.
- Scottish cat lore says that a black kitten on the porch indicates future happiness.
- The Germans say that a black cat crossing your path is bad luck -- or good, depending upon the direction. A left to right crossing is good fortune, but a right to left movement is cause for concern. What if the cat walks backwards?
- Latvian farmers believe that a black cat in the silo means that Rungis, the god of harvests, has smiled upon you.
- It is said to be worse luck for you if you cross the path of a black cat, rather than the other way around.
- If you're with two other people, do you get only one-third as much bad luck? And, what if there are two or three cats?
- Petting a black cat is said to bring health and prosperity. So, as long as you don't cross paths with each other, it's fine. Or, if you do, then make sure you pet the little furry thing before you part company. But how could you resist?!
- The Chinese believe that black cats are predictors of poverty and famine.
- The Italians say that if a black cat curls up on the bed of a sick person, death will soon follow. What if that's the only pet you have?
- Chasing away black cats is said to bring bad luck your way. So, if you chase one away and it crosses your path, you're in real trouble.
- Many cultures believe that black cats can heal. One belief is that passing the tail or a single hair from a black cat over an ailing eye can cure everything from a sty to blindness.
In the US, there's a "Halloween ban" and many shelters won't allow adoption of black cats during the month of October. The association with witches and magic remains to this day, and these felines are sometimes abused during this time of year.
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