Black cats have been the bad guy at Halloween for a long time.
Several legends exists about black cats being evil, causing bad luck, and being the familiars of witches. Why?
Did you know that cats are primarily nocturnal? By nature they are great hunters stalking and sneaking around silent and deadly to their prey. This can make people very paranoid. Being black AND associated with the darkness of night helped their image of evil and instilling fear.
Witchcraft was the dominate belief in pagan religions in Europe. These religions were tightly associated with animals of nature, including the cat. During the rise of the Christian religion in Europe, the church decided that witchcraft was evil and since they attributed cats to witches, cats were considered evil too.
There were stories that added to old myths that didn't help the cat’s image either. One story is that King Charles I of England owned a black cat and the day it died he was arrested. An old sailor's legend said that meeting cats in the shipyard meant an unpleasant voyage of storms or other bad luck. In Babylonian folklore a curled up cat on the hearth was seen similar to evil serpent.
Even today, you’ve seen the spookiness of cats yourself when your cat exhibits strange actions like seeing something that is unseen or batting at nothing in the air. That behaviour along with their amazing site at night created myths that cats can see spirits or ghosts.
However, don't be dismayed... not all is bad. For example, the ancient Egyptians respected cats. They were considered kingly animals and to kill one was a capital offence. The ancient Egyptians even mummified their cats when they died to preserve them for the afterlife. They had a deity with the head of a cat named Bast to which they dedicated their mummified cats.
In Japan the Maneki Neko (Beckoning Cat) is considered a symbol of good luck. In Russia, their Russian Blue breed of cats are supposed to be good luck as well. In Latvian tradition, black cats embody the spirit of Rungis, a god of harvests, which is good luck for farmers to have around. In the UK black cats are associated with good luck, and have been for ages.
So give your kitty a hug this a Halloween and
laugh at those old spooky myths!