What comes to mind when you think of Halloween? For many, a black cat comes to mind. Halloween decorations featuring our furry black friends come in all sizes made of all kinds of materials. But why and how did black cats become associated with superstitions, witches, and general spookiness?
While the exact origin of these superstitions has been lost over time, one noteworthy figure emerged who popularized them. In the 1200s, Pope Gregory IX declared to the people that black cats were used in witches’ rituals and were signs of devil worship. With the times being what they were, if the church declared something, that was how it was! As word spread, black cats and witchcraft were blamed for many unfortunate incidents. This was during the times when symbols of good luck, like hanging a horseshoe over your door, were believed to be able to ward off ‘bad luck’, a myth that persists even today.
However, not every culture believed that black cats were bad omens. In fact, many believed the opposite, that they were symbols of good fortune and prosperity. In Scotland, it’s considered good luck if a black cat sits on your porch. In Japan, black cats were especially good luck for single women, as they were believed to increase the chance of attracting a good suitor. English sailors would keep black cats on their ships for good fortune at sea. One became famous during WWII for being the good-luck cat aboard the HMS Prince of Wales. Winston Churchill even bent down to give the fortunate feline a pat, earning the kitty the name Churchill.
As Halloween approaches, black cats can become the target of people who believe they bring bad luck. In addition, black cats are often overlooked by people looking to adopt. BCC has numerous black kittens ready to be adopted. Please consider these sweet kitties if you are considering adopting.
If you see an unknown black cat wandering in Beltsville, contact Beltsville Community Cats (BCC) at 240-444-8353 or firstname.lastname@example.org. A BCC volunteer will check the situation out and develop a plan to humanely trap the cat and transport it to a vet to get spayed or neutered and vaccinated before releasing it where it was trapped.