Myths and Legends Superstitions

The Myths and Legends of Cats

Stories of black cats and familiars have brought about many ancient myths and legends. We’ve all heard stories about the bad luck black cats will bring when they cross your path, or maybe the witch flying across the night sky with her cat on the back. But these are all myths and legends and most likely we won’t ever see a witch flying across the sky. But there are good reasons these myths are alive.

They say that most myths and legends come from some form of truth, so how does this apply to cats? Are cats good luck, or are they bad luck? Of course many folks will argue opinions on this subject, but in many parts of the world the cat is a sacred and beloved animal. There are certain Thai legends that tell of cats guarding temples and in Japan during the year A.D. 999, the palace kittens were treated like princes. It is said that the Prophet Muhammad of Islam once cut off the sleeve of his robe so that he wouldn’t disturb his sleeping cat.

Although the cat was often seen as a sacred creature, in Europe, during medieval times, the cat was once feared as an evil creature.

The Sacred Cat

Mice and rats were once mankind’s greatest enemy because they were carriers of disease and would pilfer our food supply. You can read more about this in my post Rats! These Nasty Creatures Uncovered. But it wasn’t until the early Egyptians noticed that wild cats were chasing and hunting the mice that they realized the cats may serve a useful purpose. So they began to domesticate and tame the cats, all the while encouraging them to hunt their prey.

 Not only did the cats become great hunters for keeping the mice out of their domiciles, but they fast became a loving household friend. In temples they were worshiped as sacred creatures and at first were said to belong to the Sun God. As time went on, they began to be associated with goddesses and the moon. This is probably because their eyes would shine under the moon light, and their pupils would shift from round to crescent shaped like the moon.

As time progressed cats would remain in the mythology of Greek, Roman and Norse cultures. But if you were to kill a cat in ancient Egypt it was punishable by death. This is because they believed the Egyptian goddess Bastet would sometimes inhabit their bodies. So essentially by killing a cat, you could be attacking the goddess herself. Cats were actually ceremonially mummified during those times.

The Black and White Cats

There are many superstitions that surround cats. But the most widespread myth is that for a black cat to cross a person’s path is an unlucky sign. But ironically in the U.K., Australia and parts of North America, black cats are considered quite lucky. On the other hand, white cats are considered to be unlucky.

Then in parts of North America and Europe, they see things just the opposite, where black cats are unlucky, and white ones are lucky. One that you probably haven’t heard very often, comes from the Russian Federation. They consider blue cats to be lucky and in France, a black cat with one white hair is especially lucky to find.

Another superstition surrounding black cats says that to have a black cat in your home will ensure sailors and fishermen come home safely. Similarly, to have a cat on board your boat or ship while at sea is very lucky indeed, as long as you don’t mention its name. Mentioning its name while you’re out at sea will bring bad luck.

The Cats of Satan

Pope Gregory during 13th century Europe once declared the black cat to be a creature of Satan. This caused black cat symbolism to be linked to witchcraft and the dark forces. This would definitely explain how familiars came about as a witches pet. It was believed that the black cat, or “witches familiar” would carry messages between the witch and Satan. It was also believed that the cats themselves were able to perform evil spells by using the witches powers.

Another popular belief is that witches were able to change form, thus becoming the cats through shape shifting. This myth made it much easier to believe cats were a sign of bad luck.

Now days cats have become quite the household pet and many people enjoy having them in the family. There are many different animals that have become symbols for bad luck and superstition. Whether you choose to believe them is entirely up to you. For those of you that have cats and would like to learn more interesting information on them, check out my post 20 Little known Facts About Cats.

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49 thoughts on “The Myths and Legends of Cats
  1. You know, when i was a kid, my parents used to have cats, I guess till the age of 15 i remember only black cats in our house. I asked mom once why did we have only black cats that time. She answerув that maybe I don’t remember but they tried to care about white cats ( they say we had 2 of them some time) and they just couldnt live with us. They either ran away or passed away after a month… Is it something about our family?? But still, i have very nice emotions about black cats while my girlfriend is getting crazy and shout when a black cat rфn cross the road)))

    1. haha, sounds like your girlfriend is quite superstitious about black cats. As far as the white cats not doing well with your family, I’m not sure what that could be about. I’m sure it’s just coincidence, but seems odd. Thanks for sharing this Evan.

    1. Thank you mucahit for the kind words! I’m glad you’ve become a follower of the blog.

  2. World is unrealistic and myths exists..
    Cats’ mythological facts that you have mentioned are awesome!

  3. this is an awesome post. I have always like reading something like this. One of my favorite topic. Thank you for sharing

  4. always dazzled by the black cats stares, but beside of that..sometimes its getting creepy to be starred for a long time. Thanks for you share of this article. It helps to understand more about the cats.

    1. Yah there’s many people that take this superstition quite seriously. They’ve developed a bad reputation over the years, but I don’t personally think there’s any harm from them. It’s from the few coincidences of bad luck that keep the superstition alive.

  5. it almost always depends upon the color the cat possess!
    but, there have been some instances around the globe that the black cats are also supposed to bring good luck!

    1. You’re right Yogesh, most of these legends are reversed depending on what part of the world you are in, same thing goes with superstitions. I once referred to it as a similarity of how a toilet’s water will rotate in the opposite direction when flushed, if you’re on the opposite end of the equator.

  6. Other cat stranger myths concatenate the opinion that when a cat lavement its foot and then touch the foot over the left ear, a unknown is coming. If a cat sneeze on a wedding day, the bride will live restfully ever after. If you are unmarried a cat washes itself and you are the first man it looks at, you may hope a marriage soon. If you put butterfat on a cats paws, it ll not get lost.

  7. Interesting – especially regarding Western attitudes towards cats and especially black cats. Perhaps that’s why the Europe was ravaged by the plague so often? A more indepth look at cat worship in history is

    1. Thanks for the reference tdyean, that really is a great site for any cat owner to check out. 🙂

    1. Excellent Slava, glad you enjoyed the read. Feel free to stop by anytime for some more info 🙂

    1. Very true, superstitions related to the color of a cat are probably the most well known out of all of them.

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