Are Black Cats Really Bad Luck?

By Jessica Remitz |

It may seem silly to think black cats continue to get a bad rap when it comes to their coloring and mythical history, but many are still treated as unlucky omens. With the spookiest holiday of the year right around the corner, we've taken a look at the myths surrounding black cats and how it still impacts them today.

History of Black Cats

The history of black cats as bad omens dates to Babylonian and Hebrew mythology, according to Yahoo, which often portrayed them coiled up similarly to another symbol of evil, the serpent. In Greek mythology, a woman named Galenthias was changed into a cat and became a priestess at the temple of Hecate. She became known as the "mother of witchcraft," and forever aligned sorcery with cats.

Tall tales involving black cats can be found in nearly every country. The Germans of the Middle Ages believed a black cat was an omen of death if it jumped on the bed of an ill person, the Chinese believed that black cats could foretell poverty and sickness and in India, to liberate a reincarnated soul a black cat was thrown into a furnace, according to Yahoo.

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These myths came to the United States with early Christian settlers, who believed the black cat was considered part devil and part sorcery, according to They identified American witches as a part of the Sisterhood of Witches in England and believed that, in addition to using black cats in their craft and rituals, witches could transform themselves into black cats to avoid death. As a result, black cats were burnt at stakes with witches.

Black Cats: Good Luck Charms

Not all superstitions surrounding black cats are bad, though. Ancient Egyptians treated black cats as royalty and killing them was a capital offense, according to It's been said that fisherman's wives kept black cats for luck when their husbands went to sea to keep danger away. In Scotland, its believe that a black cat arriving on a porch brings prosperity and in Britain, it's thought that if a black cat resides in a house, a young woman living there will have many suitors. The French, according to, believe that if one has a black cat with even one white hair luck will smile upon its owner.

Regardless of whether these myths hold water or not, many shelters recognize a phenomenon known as the "Black Dog Syndrome," in which black dogs and cats are the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized.

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Though there are no hard statistics surrounding black dog syndrome, many explanations including the myth that black cats are bad luck and hard to advertise because they're difficult to photograph support it, according to USA Today. Fortunately, shelters have come up with several creative measures-from reducing adoption fees of black cats to hiring photographers to take professional photos-to ensure that black cats and dogs are being rescued at the same rate as all other pets.

So, if you're looking to take home a cat this year, be sure to give a black cat or kitten a second look. Their color won't make them any less of a perfect companion.

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