Black Cats have long enjoyed an infamous reputation that is both contradictory and intriguing. Associated with both good luck and bad luck, and of course portrayed as the ever faithful, iconic companion of the Witch.
I have two beautiful black cats, Liva is a plush, pretty little girl, with giant saucer like amber eyes,and Seth is a wiry, rambler who was born feral in the back of a previous show winning VW Beetle. Both are incredibly loving, and brimming with personality, making it a sad fact that the RSPCA reports that 70% of abandoned cats are black (or black and white) and they believe this may be due to their associations with bad luck, or even more depressingly that they don’t look good in pictures.
Black cats and Witches; It was during the Middle Ages that the black cat became associated with evil spirits, witches and demons. They were believed to be the servants of witches, or even the witches themselves. No-one is sure why this came about,other than the fact of their nocturnal behaviour (the same as any colour cat) and their mysterious appearance, but it was believed that black cats were witches familiars and assisted the witches in performing their craft. For several centuries “witches” were rounded up, tried, and killed by burning or other violent methods; often their familiars were killed along with them. These superstitions also led to people killing black cats throughout the Middle Ages for their association with Witches.
Black Cats and Luck
- To dream of a black cat is lucky.
- A funeral procession meeting up with a black cat is believed to forecast the death of another family member.
- In 16th century Italy, people believed that if someone was sick he would die if a black cat lay on his bed.
- Finding a white hair on a black cat brings good luck.
- A strange black cat on a porch brings prosperity to the owner. (Scottish Lore)
- If a black cat walks towards you, it brings good fortune, but if it walks away, it takes the good luck with it.
- The origin of the black cat and good luck is believed to have begun in Ancient Egypt with the sacred black cat of Oagans- BAST. BAST, a goddess of Egypt reigned in the Twenty-Second Dynasty and was the official deity of Egypt. Many courted her favors, by procuring black cats into their households; believing that she would become part of that cat in spirit, and grace the home with riches and prosperity.
- In the 1600’s Charles I of England, owned a black cat. He fiercely loved and protected his cat. Keeping it under guard 24/7, until one day the cat fell ill and died. Charles I was heard to proclaim- “Alas my luck is gone.” The next day, he was arrested and charged with high treason. Ultimately he was put to his death.
My favourite Black Cats;
- Pyewacket in ‘Bell, Book and Candle’ – of course!
- The beautiful cat as depicted on the famous Steinlen poster that hung outside ‘Le Chat Noir’ in Montmartre, Paris through the 1880s – the poplar ‘entertainment establishment’ was frequented by Picasso
- ‘Cat’ from Breakfast at Tiffany’s – I know he’s Ginger but he’s too lovely not to get a mention.
- Pluto from Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Black Cat’
- Again not all black but T.S. Eliot’s ‘Old Possums Book of Practical Cats’
- My favourite – whose words I will leave you with – Slinky Malinki from the Lynley Dodd childrens books….
“never again did he answer the call. When the moon shadows danced over garden and wall. When whispers of wickedness stirred in his head, he adjusted his whiskers and stayed home instead”
Follow this link if you would like to adopt a lucky black cat….http://www.rspca.org.uk/findapet/rehomeapet
Image courtesy of ‘Fine Art America’ Hazel Billingsley.