If you have ever been into our stores and on our socials pages, you may have been subjected to, me showing you a million pictures of my black cats - Smudge and Luna. Once you open the crazy cat lady box it’s hard to close it!
Ever have the privilege of living with a cat? If you have, you know that they have a certain degree of unique magical energy. It’s not just our modern domesticated felines, though–people have seen cats as magical creatures for a long time. Let’s look at some of the magic, legends, and folklore associated with cats throughout the ages.
Many modern Studies, have shown compelling results in how the purring and companionship of cats can assist in improving health and well-being. Some studies have even shown that cats have assisted in reducing symptoms of PTSD sufferers.
History of cats
In many societies and cultures throughout history, it was believed that a surefire way to bring misfortune into your life was to deliberately harm a cat. An old sailors’ tale cautions against throwing the ship’s cat overboard–the superstition said that this would practically guarantee stormy seas, rough wind, and possibly even a sinking, or at the very least, drownings. Of course, keeping cats on board had a practical purpose, as well–it kept the rat population down to a manageable level.
In some mountain communities, it is believed that if a farmer killed a cat, his cattle or livestock would sicken and die. In other areas, there’s a legend that cat-killing will bring about weak or dying crops.
In ancient Egypt, cats were regarded as sacred because of their association with the goddesses Bast and Sekhmet. To kill a cat was grounds for harsh punishment, according to the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, who wrote, "Whoever kills a cat in Egypt is condemned to death, whether he committed this crime deliberately or not. The people gather and kill him.”
There's an old legend that cats will try to "steal a baby's breath," smothering it in its sleep. In fact, in 1791, a jury in Plymouth, England found a cat guilty of homicide in just these circumstances. Some experts believe that this is the result of the cat lying on top of the child after smelling milk on its breath. In a slightly similar folktale, there's an Icelandic cat called the Jólakötturinn who eats lazy children around the Yuletide season.
In both France and Wales, there’s a legend that if a girl steps on a cat’s tail, she’ll be unlucky in love. If she’s engaged, it will get called off, and if she’s seeking a husband, she won’t find him for at least a year following her cat-tail-stepping transgression.
In Japan, the maneki-neko is a cat figurine who brings good luck into your home. Typically made of ceramic, the maneki-neko is also called the Beckoning Cat or Happy Cat. His upraised paw is a sign of welcome. It is believed that the raised paw draws money and fortune to your home, and the paw held next to the body helps keep it there. Maneki-neko is often found in feng shui.
England’s King Charles once had a cat that he loved very much. According to legend, he assigned keepers to maintain the cat’s safety and comfort around the clock. However, once the cat fell ill and died, Charles’ luck ran out, and he was either arrested or died himself the day after his cat passed away, depending upon which version of the story you hear.
In Renaissance-era Great Britain, there was a custom that if you were a guest in a home, you should kiss the family cat upon your arrival to ensure a harmonious visit. Of course, if you’ve had a cat you know that a guest who fails to make nice with your feline could end up having a miserable stay.
There’s a story in rural parts of Italy that if a cat sneezes, everyone who hears it will be blessed with good fortune.
Cats and Metaphysics
Cats are believed to be able to predict the weather–if a cat spends the entire day looking out a window, it could mean rain is on the way. In Colonial America, if your cat spent the day with her back to the fire, then it indicated a cold snap was coming in. Sailors often used the behavior of ships’ cats to foretell weather events–sneezes meant a thunderstorm was imminent, and a cat who groomed its fur against the grain was predicting hail or snow.
Some people believe that cats can predict death. In Ireland, there’s a tale that a black cat crossing your path in the moonlight meant you’d fall victim to an epidemic or plague. Parts of Eastern Europe tell a folktale of a cat yowling in the night to warn of coming doom.
There are a number of legends and myths surrounding black cats in particular. The Norse goddess Freyja drove a chariot pulled by a pair of black cats, and when a Roman solder killed a black cat in Egypt he was killed by an angry mob of locals. Sixteenth-century Italians believed that if a black cat jumped on the bed of an ill person, the person would soon die.
In Colonial America, Scottish immigrants believed that a black cat entering a wake was bad luck, and could indicated the death of a family member. Appalachian folklore said that if you had a stye on the eyelid, rubbing the tail of a black cat on it would make the stye go away.
If you find a single white hair on your otherwise-black cat, it's a good omen. In England's border countries and southern Scotland, a strange black cat on the front porch brings good fortune.
Lucky charm: The Egyptians believed that the powers of a living cat could protect them from all evil.
For a good for harvest: Europeans, in many country areas, thought that cats were essential to a good harvest. So they were treated with great respect and care.
Weather forecast: A sitting cat, with her back to the fire, was believed to be a sign that frost was on its way.
Good for baby: Placing a cat in a cradle in Russia was thought to veer evil spirits away from a new baby.
Look into my eyes: In old China, people felt they could tell the time when they looked into a cat’s eyes. The ancient Romans were of the opinion that changing eye colour in a cat had a connection with the changing phases of the moon. In ancient Egypt, they believed the eyes of a cat mirrored the rays of the sun and protected mankind from darkness and despair.
Good luck: No one understands why, in Britain, black cats are still considered to be lucky; and if one walked in front of a bride and groom it was seen as a happy omen for the marriage. Another belief was that a cat sneezing near the bride on the wedding day meant her marriage would be a long and happy one... And a white cat was thought to bring good fortune and luck to their pet parents.
Good fortune: Long ago, in China, the image of a cat was believed to mean fortune and long life. Mao, the Chinese name for cat, means ‘80 years’.
Good for wealth: Another feeling about black cats was that they brought good fortune. And if the person who found a black cat with a single white hair, could pull the hair out without being scratched, s/he would come into a lot of money and also find true love.
Beckoning cat for luck: We all know that the Japanese are of the opinion that a beckoning cat will also bring them good fortune. In Japanese homes, the figure of a cat with his left paw raised has pride of place. Japanese sailors take a tri-coloured cat (tortoiseshell) – known as the ‘Me-kay’ on their ships for good luck and safe travel.
Witches and black cats
Would any Halloween or witchcraft picture be complete without a black cat?
Everybody knows black cats are the most popular companions of witches, but why?
Witches have always had friendly felines as familiars, as throughout the history of witchcraft, cats were believed to be psychic!
Also it’s was believed that witches transformed into black cats at night!
In many Neopagan traditions, practitioners report that cats frequently pass through magically designated areas, such as circles which have been cast, and seem to make themselves contentedly at home within the space. In fact, they often seem curious about magical activities, and cats will often lay themselves down in the middle of an altar or workspace, sometimes even falling asleep on top of a Book of Shadows.
Black cat magick forever
If your considering getting a cat for a pet, I urge to visit the RSPCA or animal welfare leagues and adopt a black cat! Due to peoples superstitions, black cats are the most unadopted animals! So please please head there first and save a life!
I hope after reading this blog, we can all agree that actually black cats are the cutest, most luckiest cats of all!