Halloween is only two days away, so be prepared for ghosts, goblins, witches and black cats roaming the streets like zombies who want candy instead of flesh.
I once dressed as a black cat for Halloween, but I never thought to ask why? How did black cats become so closely associated with Halloween? I’ve recently begun to wonder this, and what better a day to blog about it than on National Cat day!
Black Cat Superstition
Cats have always been shrouded in superstition, black cats in particular. Different cultures had different folklore around the animal. Egyptians worshiped black cats, Scots thought they signified prosperity, but the Puritans thought black cats were evil, a bad omen. They believed if a black cat crossed your path it meant misfortune and death were to come to you.
This belief stems back to the Spanish Inquisition in the fifteenth century, when Pope Innocent VIII declared cats were of the devil, and ordered them to be burned. This caused an outbreak of rats, which only exacerbated the black plague.
The Puritans also practiced the killing of black cats, seeing them as familiars of witches, meaning they were demons in the form of black cats, who assisted witches.
In Netflix’s new series The Chilling Adventure of Sabrina, they show Sabrina meeting her familiar, Salem, for the first time. You see his original form just prior to his transformation into a cat. Throughout the series he helps and protects her.
Just where did this idea come from? Some say it’s because stray black cats were often taken in by lonely old ladies who were thought to be witches (funny how far back the idea of “crazy cat lady” goes.)
There’s also an old British story linking cats and witches. It goes like this:
A boy and his father were walking together in the night when they were startled by a black cat running across their path. The father kicked the cat, and it fled to the house of an old lady, who was seen limping the next day. This made them suspect that the old woman had transformed into the cat, making her a witch.
Black Cats and Halloween
Many do not know much about Halloweens Celtic roots. The Celts held a festival every year called Samhain, which began on the 31st of October. It marked the end of the harvest season, and the beginning of winter.
Samhain was also seen as a time when spirits, or fairies, could easily cross the boundary between this world, and the Otherworld.
In Celtic mythology, there was a fairy creature called the Cat Sith. It took the form of large black cat with white spots on its stomach. It was believed that this creature could steal your soul.
However, on Samhain they believed it would bless anyone who left milk for it outside their house. If someone did not do this, their cows would be cursed.
Black Cat Adoption Around Halloween
Negative superstitions still persist around black cats unfortunately. Legend has it that black cats are victims of satanic sacrifices around this time of the year. Many pet shelters take precautions around black cat adoptions, some shelters even banning it. There is inconclusive evidence that black cats are the targets to Satanic cults, according to Scopes.
Whether this is true or not, there are certainly concerns pertaining to all pet cats or dogs around Halloween. Many animals have anxiety which can be triggered by the commotion trick-or-treaters coming and going, banging on the door and yelling. There is also greater chance for them to escape, with the door being opened so frequently.
Cats are notorious for climbing on things, and knocking things over, so be sure to take caution when decorating. If you have a cat it’s for the best to avoid breakable decorations, and candles.
Hope every has a spooky Halloween!!!