Black Cats and Cats in General


We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. (In Turkey it’s believed that you can reverse the bad luck by holding a part of your hair when it happens.) This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into cats.

A black cat crossing one’s path by moonlight means death in an epidemic. – Irish superstition

King Charles I of England owned a black cat, whom he valued very much. He treasured the cat so much that he had his guards watch over it 24 hours a day. As luck would have it, the day after the cat died from an illness, the king was arrested.

Some believed that black cats carried demons.

In England, it was believed that if a black cat lived in the house, the young lass would have plenty of suitors.

In Yorkshire, England, while it is lucky to own a black cat, it is extremely unlucky to come across one accidentally.

Fisherman’s wives kept black cats while their husbands went away to sea. (See Cat’s at Sea)They believed that the black cats would prevent danger from occurring to their husbands. These black cats were considered so valuable that they were often stolen.

In North America, it’s bad luck if a black cat crosses your path and good luck if a white cat crosses your path. In Britain and Ireland, it’s the opposite.

If a black cat walks towards you, it brings good fortune, but if it walks away, it takes the good luck with it.

In Ireland, having your moonlit path crossed by a black cat was thought to foretell death in an epidemic.

Back in ancient days, the Druids thought black cats were human beings. These humans in cat form were being punished for evil deeds.

It is good luck to:

Possess or be given a black cat.

Touch a black cat.

Have a black cat greet you or enter your house.

Meeting three black cats in succession.

Have a black cat cross your path (Britain and Japan)

A strange black cat on your porch brings prosperity. – Scottish superstition

In France, it is believed that if you find one white hair on a black cat, Lady Luck will smile upon you.

It is bad luck to:

Meet a black cat in the early morning.

Have a black cat turn it’s back on you.

Drive away a black cat.

Walk under a ladder after a black cat has walked under it.

Have a black cat cross your path (USA and European countries).

It is considered bad luck to pass a black cat after 9 pm

To reverse the bad luck curse of a black cat crossing your path, first walk in a circle, then go backward across the spot where it happened and count to 13.

If a black cat crosses your path while your driving, turn your hat around backwards and mark an X on your windshield to prevent bad luck.

In ancient Egypt, the Goddess Bast was a black, female cat. Christians, wanting to rid society of all traces of other religions, convinced the ignorant that black cats were demons in disguise and should thus be destroyed. In the process, they also destroyed the kindly ladies who cared for the cats, believing them to be witches. Being demons, a black cat crossing your path would create a barrier of evil, cutting you off from God and blocking the entrance to heaven.

French peasants thought that black cats could find buried treasure, if they followed a specific ritual: find an intersection where 5 roads connected, then turn the cat loose and follow him.

More Superstitions About Cats

Cats have nine lives.

If a cat follows you it means you will come into money.

A bought cat is no good for catching mice.

Some people believe that cats are able to see the human aura, the energy field that surrounds each of us.

Sacred cats kept in a sanctuary in ancient Egypt were carefully tended by priests who watched them day and night. The priests interpreted the cat’s movements – twitch of a whisker, yawn, or stretch – into a prediction of an event that would happen in the future.

When you see a one-eyed cat, spit on your thumb, stamp it in the palm of your hand, and make a wish. The wish will come true. – American superstition

In the Netherlands, cats were not allowed in rooms where private family discussions were going on. The Dutch believed that cats would definitely spread gossips around the town.

To keep a cat off your car, put a hat on your hood.

According to legend, the ‘M’ marking on the forehead of the tabby cat was created by the prophet Mahomet as he rested his hand lightly on the brow of his favorite cat.

An American superstition: When moving to a new home, put the cat in through the window, not the door, so that it will not leave.

In Egypt, it was once believed that the life-giving rays of the sun were kept in a cat’s eyes at night for safekeeping.

Cats and Luck

Dreaming of a cat is sometimes regarded as a sign of bad luck in the future.

In the early 16th century, a visitor to an English home would always kiss the family cat to bring good luck.

In the Dark Ages, a cat was mortared, while still alive, into the foundation of a building to ensure good luck to the inhabitants.

It is bad luck to cross a stream carrying a cat. – French superstition

Cats that have double claws are two times as lucky and they must be protected.

A cat jumping onto a table is unlucky.

Kittens born in May are bad luck.

Bad Omens and Cats:

A black cat seen from behind fortells a bad omen.

A stray tortoise shell cat fortells bad omen.

A cat that unaccountably leaves home = disaster.

It’s bad luck to hear a cat crying just before you set off on a journey.

Cats and the Sick, Dying, and Dead

If cats desert a house, illness will always reign there. – English superstition

    Cat Cures:

In ancient Japan, it was thought that somewhere on the tail of a cat there was a single hair that would restore life to a dying person.

Early American colonists believed that a broth made from boiling a black cat would cure tuberculosis, but no one wanted to risk the bad luck that would befall them if they killed the cat.

At one time, people believed that fur and blood drawn from various parts of the cat’s anatomy cured all ailments.

A common folk cure for a stye on the eyelid was to rub it with the tail of a black cat.

Ashes from the burnt head of a black cat are a remedy for eye diseases when blown into the eyes.

Cats’ blood mixed with milk can be used to treat shingles.

Gravy made with stewed black cat cures consumption.

Stroking a wart with the tail of a tortoiseshell cat cures warts, but only in the month of May.

Rubbing the tail of a black cat on the eyelid cures sties.

Cats’ blood will cure warts.

Swallowing nine hairs from the tail of a black cat alleviates whooping cough.

Holding a dried catskin over the face cures toothache.

    Cats and Death:

A sick person sees two cats fighting.

A sick person dreams of cats.

A cat leaves the house in which there is a sick person and refuses to go back.

In Transylvania, if a cat jumps over a corpse, the corpse will become a vampire.

Some people believe that cats may be able to see the spectre of death.

In 16th century Italy, people believed that if a black cat lay on the bed of a sick man, he would die. However, they also believed that a cat will not remain in the house where someone is about to die – if the family cat refused to stay indoors, this was a bad omen.

Immigrants from Scotland believed that if a cat entered a room where a dead body was in state, the next person to touch the cat would be blinded. Therefore, the cat in such situations was immediately killed.

If a funeral procession encountered a black cat, they believed another member of the family would soon die.

In Normandy, seeing a tortoiseshell foretells death by accident.

A cat on top of a tombstone meant certainly that the soul of the departed buried was possessed by the devil. Two cats seen fighting near a dying person, or on the grave shortly after a funeral, are really the Devil and an Angel fighting for possession of the soul.- old English superstitions

Cats Can Predict the Weather!

They predict the wind by clawing at carpets and curtains; rain is highly likely when a cat busily washes its ears.

Keeping a cat shut up in something ends bad weather.

Witches who rode on storms took the form of cats.

The dog, an attendant of the storm king Odin, was a symbol of wind. Cats came to symbolize down-pouring rain, and dogs to symbolize strong gusts of wind. This may be where the phrase “it’s raining cats and dogs” originated

If early American cats sat with their backs to the fire, the owners knew it foretold a cold snap.

A cat sleeping with all four paws tucked under means bad weather is coming.

    Omens of rain:

A cat licking it’s tail.

A cat licking itself clean.

A cat washing behind it’s ears.

A cat resting with the flat part of it’s head on the ground.

A sneezing cat.

If a cat continually looks out a window on any day, rain is on the way.

When the pupil of a cat’s eye broadens, there will be rain. – Welsh superstition

    Omens of bad weather:

A restless cat

A cat putting it’s tail toward the fire

A cat sitting with it’s back toward the fire.

A Cat scratching the leg of a table means there will be a change in the weather.

Cats at Sea

Sailors used cats to predict the voyages they were about to embark upon. Loudly mewing cats meant that it would be a difficult voyage. A playful cat meant that it would be a voyage with good and gusty winds.

Throwing a cat overboard will bring a storm at sea.

If a cat meows aboard a ship it will be a difficult trip.

Sailors believed that if a cat licked its fur against the grain it meant a hailstorm was coming; if it sneezed, rain was on the way; and if it was frisky, the wind would soon blow.

It was a popular belief that cats could start storms through magic stored in their tails – so sailors always made sure that they were well-fed and contented.

Sailors believed that the worst possible cat-related act, guaranteed to raise a storm and bring bad luck of all sorts, was to throw the cat overboard.

If a cat was thrown overboard, a storm would rise and very bad luck would follow.

Fishermen’s wives kept a black cat at home to prevent disaster at sea.

If a cat ran ahead of a sailor to the pier, it was believed that would bring good luck; if the cat crossed his path, it would bring bad luck.

If a sailor was approached by the ship’s cat it meant good luck, but if the cat only came halfway, it meant bad luck would befall the sailor.

Cats in the Theatre

Having a cat about a theatre is good luck.

A cat running across a stage during a performance means bad luck will follow.

Cats Sneezing:

A cat sneezing once means there will be rain.

A cat sneezing once is good luck.

A cat sneezing three times means members of the family will develop colds.

A sneezing cat is a sign of future wealth.

A cat sneezing is a good omen for everyone who hears it. – Italian superstition

Cats Washing and Grooming:

If there is a cat washing on the doorstep, the clergy will visit – American folklore

A cat washing it’s right ear means a male stranger is coming.

A cat washing it’s left ear means a female stranger is coming.

If a cat washes its face and paws in the parlor, company’s coming.

Cats of Other Colors:

See also Cats and Dreams

A three-colored cat protects homes from fire.

Black, white and gray cats are good luck.

It’s bad luck if a stray tortoiseshell cat comes into your house.

Tortoiseshell cats were believed to be able to see into the future and could give the gift to a lucky child in the household.

In Normandy, seeing a tortoiseshell cat foretold death by accident.

Stroking a wart with the tail of a tortoiseshell cat cures warts, but only in the month of May.

    White Cats

It is bad luck to see a white cat at night. – American superstition

To see a white cat on the road is lucky. – American superstition

English schoolchildren believed seeing a white cat on the way to school was sure to bring trouble. To prevent the bad luck, they were to spit or turn around completely and make the sign of the cross.

It is bad luck to see a white cat at night.

Love and Cats

When a girl living in the Ozark Mountains received a proposal of marriage and was uncertain whether to accept, she folded and placed 3 hairs from a cat’s tail into a paper under her doorstep. The next morning, she would unfold the paper to see if the hairs had formed themselves into a Y or N before answering her suitor.

Early Americans believed if a cat washes her face in front of several people, the first person she looks at will be the first to get married.

A bride will have a happy married life if a black cat sneezes near her on her wedding day.

Having the family cat at your wedding is good luck.

Hurting Cats

The French believed that if a girl tread on a cat’s tail, she would not find a husband before a year is out.

If you kick a cat, you will develop rheumatism in that leg.

If you kill a cat, you are sacrificing your soul to the Devil

If you drown a cat, the devil will get you.

If you drown a cat, you will fall victim to a drowning.

If you are a farmer and kill a cat, you can expect your cattle to die mysteriously.

To end even one of a cat’s 9 lives was to risk being haunted by that particular cat for the rest of the murderer’s life.

To kill a cat brings seventeen years of bad luck -Irish superstition

Cats and Kids

If you dream of a black and white cat, you’ll have luck with children; may also mean the birth of a child.

The Pennsylvania Dutch place a cat in an empty cradle of a newlywed couple. The cat was supposed to grant their wish for children.

Norse legend tells of Freya, goddess of love and fertility, whose chariot was pulled by two black cats.

In Scandinavia, the cat stood for fertility.

The Hindu believed the cat was the symbol for childbirth.

Cats can suck away the breath of sleeping children.

Tortoiseshell cats were believed to be able to see into the future and could give the gift to a lucky child in the household.

Dreaming about Cats

Dreaming of a cat is sometimes regarded as a sign of bad luck in the future.

If you dream of a tortoiseshell cat, you will be lucky in love.

If you dream of a multicolored cat, you will have luck making friends.

If you dream of a ginger cat, you will be lucky in money and business.

To dream of a white cat means luck in creativity, spiritual matters, divination and spellcraft.

American folklore has it that dreaming of a white cat is good luck.

If you dream of a black and white cat, you’ll have luck with children; may also mean the birth of a child.

To dream of a black cat is lucky.

Seeing a black cat in your dream indicates that you are experiencing some fear in using your psychic abilities and believing in your intuition.

If you dream of a tabby, you will have luck for your home and all who live there.

fightingcatsA dream of two cats fighting means illness or a quarrel.

One Roman dream interpretation was that dreaming of being badly scratched by a cat foretold sickness and trouble.

To dream of a gray cat means to be guided by your dreams.

If you dream about a cat with no tail, then it means lost independence.

If you dream of an aggressive cat, it suggests that you are having problems with the feminine aspect of yourself.

If you heard the noise of alley cats in your dream, it is a warning to avoid an indiscreet acquaintance in your immediate circle.

If you hear the scream or the mewing of a cat, a false friend is trying to do you harm.

To dream of seeing a cat and snake on friendly terms signifies the beginning of an angry struggle.

Cats and Witches

Traits associated with cats include cleverness, unpredictability, healing and witchcraft, since in ancient times it was believed that witches took the form of their cats at night.

Folklore has it that if a witch becomes human, her black cat will no longer reside in her house.

It was largely in the Middle Ages that the black cat became affiliated with evil. Because cats are nocturnal and roam at night, they were believed to be supernatural servants of witches, or even witches themselves. Partly because of the cat’s sleek movements and eyes that ‘glow’ at night, they became the embodiment of darkness, mystery, and evil, possessing frightening powers. If a black cat walked into the room of an ill person, and the person later died, it was blamed on the cat’s supernatural powers. If a black cat crossed a person’s path without harming them, this indicated that the person was then protected by the devil.

Often times, a cat would find shelter with older women who were living in solitude. The cat became a source of comfort and companionship, and the old woman would curse anyone who mistreated it. If one of these tormentors became ill, the witch and her familiar were blamed.

A kitten born in May will be a witches cat.

Some believe black cats are witches in disguise.

Others believe black cats are witches familiars (beings that aid witches in performing their craft).

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