Halloween is almost upon us. This is the time for ghouls, ghosts, costumes, candy, and superstitions. There are plenty of creepy tales to focus on during this time of year, but since we're pet-obsessed, our attention turns to black cats.
Black cats are a frequent symbol during the Halloween season because they're seen as a creepy omen of bad luck. But why are they considered bad luck? It turns out, the truth goes back years.
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Black cats were symbols of the devil in the Middle Ages
In 1233 C.E., Pope Gregory IX declared that black cats were an incarnation of the devil itself. And of course, when the pope declares a thing like that back in the day, everyone believes it. Things got pretty bad after that because Christians took to burning black cats alive. Yikes!
The Celtic Cat Sith was a fairy that could steal souls
The Cat Sith was portrayed as a black cat with a white spot on its chest. Legend said that the Cat Sith could steal a person's soul before the gods could claim it. People also had to leave milk outside their house for the Cat Sith, or else they might be cursed. So for Celtic people, the black cat also had sort of ominous tones.
Black cats became a symbol of witches and witches in disguise
For the Christian world, cats were a symbol of pagan religions and the devil. And since they thought cats were evil, it was only natural that they would start associating them with another evil force they saw in the world — witches. Black cats are often portrayed as "familiars" or magical companions of witches in legend. There were also tales that witches disguised themselves as black cats. Eventually, fear of witches became so powerful in the 16th and 17th centuries, that massive numbers of women were accused and tried for witchcraft.
Black cats just kind of look creepy
While not scientifically or historically proven, it's hard to deny that black cats look a little creepy. Black has long been a color of misfortune and ill-omen, so they've already got that against them. Plus, many black cats also naturally have glowing yellow eyes, which adds an eerie quality to their appearance.
Also, as all black cat owners know, black cats tend to disappear into other black household items, which can be hilarious or creepy, depending on your mood (and the time of year).
Black cats are still considered unlucky today
And that fact causes black cats to get adopted less frequently. A study from Colorado State University found that black cats take six days longer to be adopted because people tend to be spooked by them.
These superstitions around black cats are just a Western, Christian thing. Other parts of the world and other religions don't see black cats as bad luck. In some places, it's quite the opposite. In Ancient Egypt, cats were sacred. And in Japan, black cats are a symbol of good luck. So their creepy, bad luck status isn't universal.
Is it fair to these adorable felines to have us constantly fleeing from their "bad luck?" They're just kitties that want to be loved like any other cat. And besides, if they are a witch or a fairy in disguise, wouldn't you rather pet them and be on their good side?