Five Common Black Cat Superstitions

DrPaul -

Five Common Black Cat Superstitions

Humans have a long history with cats and in some ancient civilisations, such as Ancient Egypt and Rome, they were revered, even treated like gods and worshipped. Our relationship with our feline friends hasn’t always been so positive however and in many cultures they have become the subject of superstition, myth and legend.


Here are five of the most popular cat superstitions and how they came into being.


Black Cats are bad luck. 

This superstition has been around since at least the dark ages when black cats began to be associated with ill omens and even death, mainly because the colour black has long been synonymous with the netherworld.

Now this is an unfortunate superstition as the most dominant gene dictating coat colour happens to be black meaning that black cats are pretty common. Obviously if every black cat brought bad luck a lot of us would be in for a rough ride!


Black cats are witches in disguise

It was commonly believed that all witches had a familiar and were able to inhabit their bodies to spy on the neighbourhood. A familiar could be anything from a dog, cat, rat, or toad. Unfortunately for cats because of their independent and nocturnal nature this made them the most widely accepted witches’ accomplice.  As a result black cats sadly suffered just as much persecution as suspected witches during the European witch trials in the 15th and 16th century.


If a black cat crosses your path, it will bring you bad luck…or good?

The nature of this superstition completely depends on where in the world you are. In some countries such as India it is an ill omen and a sign of bad luck, whereas in Germany or Britain it is believed that good fortune is on your way. 


Cats have nine lives

Most people have heard this saying but not everyone is familiar with the full proverb: "A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays, and for the last three he stays." Sadly, cats don’t actually have nine lives but the likelihood is that this myth came into being mainly because cats have a unique survival tactic. They possess the air-righting reflex which enables our cats to orient themselves as they fall in order to land on their feet. Therefore, cats have a higher chance of surviving a fall that would likely kill a human or other animal.


A white hair on a black cat will bring you good luck

It is believed by some places in the world that every black cat has at least one white hair somewhere, and if you find it and are able to pull it out without being scratched, a long and happy marriage is in store for you. 


Thankfully despite all the superstitions, cats remain one of the most popular pets worldwide and for very good reason. So, if you ever find yourself in a rehoming centre looking to adopt, don’t forget to give that little black cat a second glance, to be honest they are far more likely to bring you joy and happiness as opposed to bad luck.

Paul Manktelow

Veterinary Surgeon

Dr Paul Manktelow is a vet who's worked for almost 20 years on the front line in some of the UK's busiest veterinary hospitals. Paul also appears regularly in the media as a TV and radio presenter, writer, public speaker and podcast producer.