Did you know that black cats came into existence because of a well-evolved genetic mutation and they are more likely to survive in the wild because they can make themselves unseen in the dark? Uuu, spooky! Black cats have long been associated with witches and Halloween and the most common Halloween cat pose is this:
With its back arched, fluffed tail, standing up looking like it’s growling or hissing, this image is supposed to be scary and frighten you. Instead, is the other way around. Cats only act this way when THEY are scared and they’re trying to make themselves look bigger as a defense mechanism.
Cats and witchcraft
In Celtic mythology, there’s a creature called Cait-Sith or Cat-Sith that can represent a fairy or a witch who haunts the Scottish Highlands and can take either the shape of a human or of a cat 9 times. (And, so cats have 9 lives 😂). They prey on the souls of unburied dead, in funeral parlors or chapels. Also, on Halloween, Cat-Sith would go from farm to farm and steal the milk from the cows. Yeah, that sounds like a very gruesome thing to do. NOT!
In Greek mythology, Zeus’s wife, Hera, turned Galenthius, her servant, into a black cat out of anger. Then, Galenthius went to serve the goddess of magic and spells, Hecate. This way, the black cat got associated with witchcraft. Maybe they became very good friends, and perhaps, Galenthius-cat could even talk!
But the demonization of black cats is attributed to Pope Gregory IX who, in 1233, slaughtered the cats all over Europe, especially black cats. He believed that cats were carrying Satan’s spirit around them and that witches worshiped a half-human, half-cat devil. Therefore, because of their allegiance to the devil, cats had to be punished. He declared war on cats (and witches), which allowed the Bubonic Plague to quickly spread because of the increasing number of mice and rats. Good job there, Pope!
Persecution of cats continued from 1692 to 1693 in Salem Massachusetts when witch hysteria reached its peak and black cats were the symbol of witchcraft, in the belief that they assisted witches in their rituals. Also, they thought that witches themselves could transform into black cats and hide in the shadows, thus being able to cast their spells unnoticed.
I know a lot of people who still believe that a black cat crossing your path brings bad luck. I’ve heard of people who threw away black kittens and left them to die only because they were black. Most elders still believe that the presence of a black cat in a strange situation, place, or time is a clear sign of witchcraft. Hmm, I have a black cat, I like staying in the dark or dim light, and I usually use a lot of spices when I cook. Does that make me a witch? 😂
What do you think about black cats? Do you know some interesting superstitions around them? Let me know. And Happy Halloween!!! 🎃