Why are Black Cats Bad Luck: Breaking the Feline Stereotype

black cat lying on floor

Each Halloween, when everyone starts getting busy decorating their homes, and with the kids getting dressed up with scary little costumes, the image of the black cat will almost always make it to the picture. Black cats have long been perceived by many as emissaries of the dark and agents of misfortune. But where exactly did the dread of these beautiful and loving animals come from? Why are black cats bad luck? Are they really bad luck?

A recent study conducted among cat shelters in the United States shows that black cats have the hardest time finding a home. Needless to say, there seems to be a common disinterest even in black kittens. Knowing how cats, regardless of their color, deserve a loving and safe environment to thrive in, these statistics are somewhat sad and perplexing.

So if you are a cat lover who is looking to add a new feline member to your household, or someone who is just interested in learning some in-depth information about black cats, you’ve definitely come to the right place. After all, there is way more to these beautiful felines than just bad luck myths.

From common myths and misconceptions to where these common black cat superstitions actually came from, we will discuss everything in this article. Hopefully, this article can encourage those who are looking to add a new member to the family to opt for a black cat. We have also included some practical tips on keeping your black feline friend’s fur shiny and healthy. Let’s get started, shall we?

The Evolution of the Black Cat – Bad Luck Myth

Few other creatures are as misunderstood as our gentle inky-furred feline friend the black cat. Typically associated with Halloween, witches, and bad luck, these poor creatures are not only being overlooked in shelters but also avoided, and sometimes, even threatened.

In fact, in some parts of the world, black cats are perceived as an offering or sacrifice around Halloween. Just how messed up is that? So where did the fear of these gentle animals come from?

Long before the black cats became stereotyped as bringers of misfortune, all cats were treated with high esteem in Ancient Egypt, regardless of their color.

To the Ancient Egyptians, cats are mighty and strong, and therefore should be held sacred. Family cats were often adorned with fancy collars and jewelry. When a cat dies, the whole family goes into mourning.

For thousands of years, cats were revered and highly respected in Egypt. How did this change for the black cats?

It’s time we discuss some amazing black feline facts that will surely change the way you see these so-called scary and spooky pets. Hopefully, the list we have carefully compiled below will help debunk some of the most common stereotypes surrounding these gentle and lovable kitties.

#1: Crossing Paths with a Black Cat

balck cat crossing the road

Myth: A black cat crossing your path signifies bad luck. It is uncertain where this common myth actually originated, but it may have something to do with a black cat’s smooth and slick demeanor. A black cat’s sly movements may somewhat suggest to superstitious folks that he is up to no good

Fact: Just like many others, you’ve probably experienced crossing paths with a black cat a few times during your lifetime. Yet no one can actually attest to being doomed for a lifetime after such chance meetings.

Black cats shouldn’t get a bad reputation just because they appear sneaky. In fact, these beautiful creatures are considered good luck in some cultures.

In Japan, black cats allegedly assist single women to find ardent suitors. In Scotland, a strange black cat suddenly appearing at your doorstep signifies extreme luck.

#2: Black Cats and Witches

Black Cat Witches

Myth: Black cats are witches in disguise.

The black cat started being associated with witchcraft and witches during the Middle Ages. This started in France in the late 1300s, when a group of witches was said to have been worshipping the devil disguised as a cat.

Although this has never been proven, a lot of people argue that it may be their nocturnal nature that somehow connected cats to witches. After all, according to the European church, it is during the night that witches hold their meetings.

In the 1500s, it was a common belief that witches can shapeshift themselves into black cats so they can freely roam about spying people and wreaking havoc. It was believed that they can do this for up to nine times, which may have paved the way for the famous belief that cats have nine lives.

One folktale speaks about a father and son meeting a black cat on their path while on their way home. The boy, thinking that the cat was a witch’s familiar, threw a stone and hit the cat’s leg. The following morning, the father and the son met a woman in the market one who was long suspected to be a witch and she was limping on one leg.

This belief associating black cats with witches crossed the Atlantic and became a widely known superstition in New England. In the Southern part of the United States, many spooky folktales depict black cats as witches or demons in disguise.

In addition, a common pirate superstition states that if a black cat walks into a vessel and walks off again, then this ship is bound to sink on the next voyage.

Even in today’s culture, black cats are still often depicted as witches or as a witch’s familiar.

Fact: if you are a cat lover or someone who has ever felt a black cat purring against you, then you will realize how he is too cute and cuddly to be a witch. If there is any “evil” these creatures may be guilty of, that would probably be tearing up the sofa.

#3: Eerie Golden Eyes

black cat with golden eyes

Myth: One sign that proves these black cats are witches are their ” golden eyes.” Most superstitious people attribute the black cat’s golden eyes to that of the magic that comes with being a witch or a witch’s emissary. Folklore says these eyes are the only thing seen when a cat disappears in the pitch black of the night.

Fact: The golden eye color of black felines is not a result of any magic. It is due to melanism, which is the exact opposite of albinism. Overproduction of melanin is what causes their fur to be black and their irises to be golden.

#4: Contemporary Beliefs

Myth: Black cats should not be adopted. Black cats have the highest rate of euthanasia and the lowest adoption rate in shelters across the United States as well as in other countries.

Aside from being perceived as less attractive, studies show that some adopters also perceive black cats as less friendly than their colored counterparts.

Fact: Many studies prove that all cats are capable of being warm and loving human companions, regardless of their color. There are many testimonials from black feline owners on how much love and joy these creatures bring to their lives.

Most of all, since they are the ones who are often left in shelters and sometimes euthanized, they are the ones who are most in need of a loving family.

Recently, many shelters have initiated various campaigns to promote black cat adoption. Needless to say, many of these myths still exist, but people are getting more enlightened by the fact that these superstitions have no scientific basis.

To further entice people to adopt or choose a black cat when looking to add a new pet to the household, we have also included some wonderful reasons why getting a black cat is an awesome decision to make.

  • Most black cats are quite striking, especially with their bright green or golden eyes.
  • Owning a black cat is like owning an elegant and majestic black panther. With their piercing eyes and silky black fur, how can anyone not be taken by such magnificence? One prime example of this is the all-black Bombay cat breed.
  • Having a black cat as a pet helps fight unfounded superstitions about these beautiful creatures.
  • Black fur is invisible on dark clothing. This allows you to wear your favorite black dress and still hug your pet without worries!
  • People leave these cats alone. Because many people stir away from black cats, it is less likely that they will get stolen.
  • Black cats are great survivalists. Aside from their ability to camouflage better when in the dark, black cats have also shown better disease-resistance than other colored cats.
  • You can easily adopt black cats from shelters, in case you want one as a pet.
  • During Halloween, having a black feline pet can enhance your Halloween experience.
  • Black cats are also easier to groom and are the ideal pet for busy working individuals.

Apart from superstitions that paint them in a bad light, in some parts of the world, there are also superstitions that paint them in a good light.

Around the time of World War II, the American tradition of Halloween “Trick or Treat” got underway, and cats became a common part of the holiday. This time though, the black cats were considered as lucky charms. It is said that a black kitten at your door can chase away evil spirits that may come for a visit.

Nowadays, people have become less superstitious than they were during the Middle Ages. However, black feline owners are frequently advised to keep their pet indoors during the Halloween season. This results from the fear that black kittens may be the target of some animal sacrifice or ritualized abuse.

So, there you go. A brief outline of how the “black cat, bad luck” myth evolved. Keep in mind though, that although these myths and superstitions about black cats have been around for many centuries, none of them are based on reality or fact.

More Fun and Amazing Black Cat Facts

black cat lying on road

Black cats are amazing creatures. To further elaborate on this fact, we have some fun and amazing black cat facts to share with you.

  • In order for a cat to be truly black, both parents need to carry the black color gene.
  • Some black cats are actually tabbies in disguise. In these cases, you may be able to see tabby stripes on the legs or tails or the “M” pattern on the cat’s head.
  • In Great Britain, a bride receiving a black cat is considered good luck.
  • In Germany, you will need to pay attention in case you cross paths with a black cat. One who crosses from left to right is generally good, while a black feline crossing from the opposite direction spells bad luck.
  • Fisherman couples believe that black cats are lucky; that’s why many of them keep these beautiful felines at home or on their ships. In fact, black cats have become so valued that very few could actually afford them.
  • Studies show that there are more male black cats than female ones.
  • During the 16th century in Italy, it is believed that a black cat jumping over the bed of a sick person means that person is about to die.
  • In some parts of America during the colonial period, Scottish immigrants believe that the presence of a black cat in a wake is a premonition that another family member will die.
  • Appalachian folklore states that rubbing the tail of a black feline on a stye will heal it.
  • Finding a single strand of white hair on a black cat will bring good fortune.
  • In Egypt, there was once a story about a soldier who was killed by a mob for killing a black cat.

Finally, did you know that a black cat’s coat can actually change color? Here are a few things that can cause this to happen:

  • Sun Exposure. We all know that spending too much time under the sun can change our hair color. This applies to cats as well. If they spend a lot of time outdoors, their coats can lighten as well.
  • Diet. Out of the 22 amino acids that cats require to thrive, 11 are essential, which means that they need to consume this through their diet. Tyrosine, though a non-essential amino acid, can only be synthesized through an essential amino acid known as phenylalanine. Tyrosine is required for the production of melanin, which gives your cat’s skin and coat pigmentation. Without enough tyrosine, your feline cannot produce as much melanin. This will result in your cat having brownish or reddish color instead of black.
  • Copper. Copper is a mineral that is required in a cat’s diet. Although copper deficiency is rare, it causes discoloration on your pet’s coat.
  • Zinc. Although this is another important mineral that is responsible for a healthy coat and skin, consuming too much zinc may cause copper deficiency and depigmentation.
  • Illness. Thyroid, liver, and kidney issues may also cause changes in your pet’s coat color because it interferes with proper taurine metabolism.
  • Age. As animals advance in age, their coats may also begin to fade, or start turning gray, just like us humans. This is a normal process of life and nothing to get worried about.

How to Care for Your Black Cat’s Coat

If there is one thing that makes black cats extremely beautiful, that would be their rich coat of pitch black fur. For black feline owners or those who, after reading this article, are already keen on getting one, learning how to properly groom their coat is an important aspect of a black cat’s care.

We have below a practical guide on how to properly care for your beloved feline friend’s coat.

#1: Brushing Your Cat

Examine your cat’s coat often. Because a cat’s coat tells a lot about his overall health, checking it for any noticeable changes is very important.

Because cats are self-groomers, their coats should have a natural “spring” and gloss. However, certain factors such as oils, dirt, and other things may cause their coat’s condition to deteriorate.

Checking your pet’s fur at least 1 to 2 times a week is recommended. Check for signs of dullness, greasiness, dryness, dullness, thinning, or dandruff. Also look for tangles, especially when checking the coat of long-haired cats.

Make grooming a pleasant experience. Be patient, start slowly, and ensure that your pet is comfortable during the entire process. It is best to schedule this after feeding time or exercise so that your cat is relaxed and likely to be in a good mood. Keep the initial sessions short, about 10 to 15 minutes until he gets used to the routine.

If your cat is acting difficult, be patient and try again. Try offering a treat as a reward for a successful session.

Short-haired kittens and cats should be brushed at least once a week. Since short-haired varieties have less hair, they also require less attention. Once a week brushing or even less should be enough.

For short-haired cats, first, comb your cat’s fur from head to tail using a metal comb. This should get rid of dirt and debris. Brush along the grain of the fur and not against it. Brush all over the cat’s body, but focus on individual parts when removing tangles.

Be extra gentle when brushing through the cat’s chest and belly where they tend to be extra sensitive. Use a rubber brush or bristle when removing dead or loose hair.

Long-haired felines should be brushed more often. Because their coats are a lot more likely to form balls and mats, long-haired cats like Himalayans, Persians, or Balinese need to be brushed more often.

Start brushing through the cat’s legs and belly, where tangles tend to easily form. Brush the entire body using a rubber brush or bristle, pushing up towards the head, and back down once you are finished. When you get to the tail, part it first at the middle and from outwards on either side.

Difficult tangles may be loosened by using talcum powder or mat-splitter.

Check for irregularities. For both grooming and health purposes, make it a habit to run your hands along your cat’s body to feel for irregularities or things that aren’t supposed to be there.

Feel for bumps, tangles, or signs of fleas or ticks. Check the cat’s behind by lifting his tail. Use scissors to cut away any fur matted with feces.

#2: Bathing Your Cat

Bathing black Cat

Avoid over-bathing your cat. Felines are tidy creatures and are usually able to groom themselves. Unless they get into something that’s quite dirty or smelly, it’s best to limit their baths.

Bathing, when done in excess, can cause dryness on your cat’s skin. It can also change oil gland levels and worsen dry skin condition. Use mild, cat-friendly shampoo when giving your felines a bath.

Practice good timing. Cats hate water. For this reason, bathing should be done during relaxed moments, such as after a play or brushing session.

Laying down a rubber mat before putting the cat in the sink or tub helps prevent slipping. You may also want to put on some rubber gloves before giving your pet a bath.

Depending on the size of your cat, you may use a plastic tub. Fill this with about 2 to 3 inches of clean water before carefully setting your cat in the tub. Make sure to use lukewarm water which should be comfortable to the touch. Be careful not to overfill the tub with water.

Using a spray hose, you may begin to wet the cat’s entire body. Spray bottles or plastic pitchers may also serve the same purpose. Apply a little shampoo to your cat’s coat and work up the lather. Massage from head to toe, taking care to avoid the face and the eyes.

Prepare a mild enough solution by mixing one part of shampoo with five parts of water. Avoid splashing water to your pet’s face and instead use a washcloth to work up the cat’s head.

After a good lather, you may rinse off excess shampoo by using lukewarm water from a pitcher or spray nozzle. Wrap the cat with a clean towel and put him in a dry place. Brush his hair to prevent tangles. To reinforce a positive bathing experience, it is a good idea to offer your cat a treat.

Wrap Up

Over the years, myths and superstitions surrounding black cats have created for them a stereotype of being a bringer of bad luck. Superstitious people from all across the world have steered clear of these otherwise gentle and loving animals.

We hope that through the information we have provided in this article, more people will realize that these myths are baseless, and start seeing these dark-colored feline friends in a different light.

We also hope that the tips we have discussed will help you in caring for them, because regardless of color, they are innocent creatures who need a safe and loving environment to live and thrive.

What do you think about black cats? Do you have a story about a unique encounter with them that you can share with us? We’d love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment below! Next, if you decide to adopt a black cat, check out our article on black cat names.

Previous articleWhat Do Cats Dream About: Do They Dream About Us?
Next articleBlack Cat Names: Marvelous Monochromatic Monikers
Steve Corelli is a Pet Nutrition Expert from Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many nutritional strategies for different breeds and a member of some Pet Food development teams. His Maine Coon Stephan, as you might guess, is always well-fed.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here