The old superstition that black cats are bad luck is enough to make some people cross to the other side of the road to avoid one of the critters crossing their paths. It’s a myth perpetuated for decades. It’s hard for some to delete the falsehood from the beliefs that stuck in their brains from early childhood. Pet shelters have noted that black cats are the least likely to get adopted. It’s a cultural thing that started centuries ago, and it puts felines with black coats at a disadvantage when they land in rescue shelters. To help shed light on the subject and bust this hurtful stereotype, we offer proof that black cats aren’t bad luck at all.
Why are black cats considered bad luck?
The belief that bad cats bring misfortune and foretell bad luck began centuries ago in ancient Greece, according to Four Paws. In Greek mythology, Hera, the wife of Zeus, turned her servant Galinthias into a black cat. She went on to serve Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft, after the transformation. That is when the superstition about black cats got its start. Stories handed down through the years change, morphing into more intensive tales that become legends.
Other cultural beliefs about black cats
Black cats are both feared and revered by cultures throughout the world. In Japan, black cats stand as symbols of good luck for single ladies hoping for a suitor. In Scotland, they’re omens of good luck if one shows up at your door. In America, early settlers believed that witches could take the form of a black cat and could shapeshift their forms as many as nine times. Modern culture promotes this belief by pairing witches with cats in advertisements and artistic works.
The myth is not universal
The myth about black cats being harbingers of bad luck is not universal. We must stop to consider that in many cultures, black cats are a symbol of good luck. What it comes down to is what you’ve heard and what you choose to believe. Can a black cat be both good luck and bad luck at the same time? There is no evidence to suggest that the color of a cat has any influence over your fortune one way or the other.
Proof that black cats aren’t bad luck at all
We recently heard the report of a black cat who save the life of its 83-year old owner. NPR posted a news release about a black cat named Piran, owned by an 83-year old Cornwall, England woman. She took a tumble down a ravine. Her cat witnessed the potential tragedy and took immediate action. The cat found a neighbor and raised such a ruckus that he was obliged to follow. The cat took the neighbor to the place she fell from. His actions led crews to the elderly lady in need of their help. It was a moving event. Search team members laud the cat as a hero. Had the cat not driven rescuers crazy with persistent meowing, it may have been hours before the victim would have been found. This is a documented case where a black cat saved a human life. We can infer from this story that unfolded in 2021, that black cats are as much good luck, and even heroes, as they are bad luck. The woman from England would probably take exception to anyone suggesting her black cat is unlucky.
The tragedy of perpetuating myths
For some people, the notion that black cats bring bad luck is something they have heard repeated their entire life. When a person you trust repeats a myth, there is a higher likelihood you will on some level believe what they say. It may seem harmless to repeat the myth then chuckle about it. When children are exposed to these fables at a young age, it gets deep into the subconscious and may influence their belief system for the rest of their lives. The truth of the matter is that cats are cats. Some of them have black coats and others are different colors. The belief that black cats are different from any other cat is the equivalent of judging a person on the color of their skin and assigning a value of good or bad. Felines are animals who all have the same needs for food, shelter, affection, and healthcare. The danger of perpetuating the myth that black cats bring bad luck is creating a bias against them. When black cats show up in rescue shelters, they’re far harder to place with adoptive families than cats with other coat colors. These cats require the love of a family, and they are just as capable of becoming loving household pets as any other cat.
What needs to be done?
Avoiding black cats and ostracizing them makes as much sense as the Salem Witch Trials. It’s a mild form of public hysteria that has no basis in the truth. It’s an untruth and false belief that places these animals at a distinct disadvantage. It’s time to end the madness and put an end to the false belief that black cats bring about bad luck.
With Halloween nearing, we’re going to see a lot of bad press for black cats. Hopefully, young trick-or-treaters will realize that there’s nothing to the scary stories told about black cats. They’ve become a symbol of bad luck and spiritual trickery and it’s not fair to the cats who happen to be born with a black coat, but that is the world we live in. There are a few people who honestly believe that black cats bring bad luck, but for the rest of us, it’s just something we’ve heard most of our lives and we shrug it off as a myth, chuckling when we don’t stop to think about the deeper implications of the falsehood. At the end of the day, black cats are just kitties that need our love and affection.