So That's Why Black Cats Are Considered Unlucky?

By Sarah Jeanne Terry

October is finally here, which means it's Halloween season. 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.

Black cats were seen as symbols of the devil during the Middle Ages.

Burg Rheinfels
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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 added to these tales because it was a fairy that could steal souls.

Black cat with white whiskers, eyebrows and paws lies on cardboard box
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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 were often thought to be witches in disguise.

Adorable Kitten Dressed as a Halloween Witch With Hat and Broom in Cauldron
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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, massive numbers of women were accused and tried for witchcraft.

They just kind of look creepy.

Closeup Scared Black Cat Face, Yellow Eyes in Dark
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While not scientifically or historically proven, it's hard to deny that 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.

To this day, black cats are considered unlucky.

Halloween pumpkin and black cat on wooden background
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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.

Black kitty on the street
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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.

And really, is it fair to these adorable felines to have us constantly fleeing from their "bad luck?"

Young beautiful glamorous black-haired woman holding black cat
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They're just kitties that want to be loved like any other cat. And besides, if it is a witch or a fairy in disguise, wouldn't you rather pet it and be on its good side?

Would you like to learn more about spooky stuff and pets? Well, you've come to the right place! Listen to our podcast that examines whether or not pets can see ghosts. Also, follow us on Facebook to keep your News Feed as cute as it can be.