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Kitty cat, kitty cat, what is my luck today?

on March 9, 2012

Continuing my new found fascination with cats – especially black cats.

Superstitions about black cats abound in all cultures. The funny thing is that whether a cat bring you good or bad luck depends to a large extent on where in the world you live and in which century. More than listing out what the superstitions are (that would fill a book) I was more interested in the history.

And this is what I found.

Cats bring good luck!

Cats have been living along with humans for millennia. The cat was worshipped inEgyptas the cat goddess Bastet and to kill one was considered a capital crime. Egyptians hosted black cats in their homes to gain favour of the cat goddess.  When an Egyptian family’s cat died, the cat was mummified and the family went into mourning as they would for a family member.

Romans, also, considered the cat sacred and introduced it intoEurope.  Black cats were also considered good luck in Japan and Asia. Furthermore, it is believed that a lady who owns a black cat will have many suitors. Sailors owned a black one on ship because they believed it would bring good luck. Sometimes, fishermen’s wives would keep black cats at home too, in the hope that they would be able to use their influence to protect their husbands at sea.

Oh no! Cats bring bad luck!

The luck of the black cats turned from good to bad as the ancient Egyptian and Roman civilizations declined and the conquerors did their best to erase the culture of their conquered. Widespread dread of black cats first arose in Europe in the Middle Ages, particularly in Englandwhen the witch hysteria struck. Poor, lonely, old ladies usually fed stray alley cats and were accused of practicing black magic. Their cat companions were deemed guilty of witchery by association.Europe went on a mass ‘black cat eradication’ drive.

Also, when the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock (US), they brought with them a devout faith in the Bible and a deep suspicion of anything related to the devil. They also viewed the black cat as a companion to witches, part demon and part sorcery and persecuted anyone found with a black cat.  So most of western and southernEuropestarted viewing the black cat as a symbol of bad luck and this continues even today, especially if a black cat crosses paths with a person, which is believed to be an omen of misfortune and death.

I personally have never believed in superstitions. I always thought superstitions formed out of the interaction of a person with the environment or out of the search for answers to things that logic and knowledge at that time could not explain or just simple things that people did not want to take the trouble to explain (like ‘walking under a ladder is bad luck’ – maybe it was a precaution so if the ladder crashes, it does not crack your head).

But well, this is my thinking and I might be wrong. Now excuse me, I need to go find my black cat buddy.

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2 responses to “Kitty cat, kitty cat, what is my luck today?

  1. Hi, I enjoyed your post. I just wrote a post myself about superstition – after I’ve posted something, I usually go off and see what other people are saying about the same subject and I found yours!

    • sunraysme says:

      Hey thanx!
      You have a really interesting point there about the trouble in writing down negative things. I guess we all are superstitious to some extent, aren’t we ? Haha!

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