What's the Deal With Black Cats and Hallowe'en?

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson

Satanic partner or independent thinker... tonight the black cats rule!

Photo Credit: Gonzalo Aragon / Shutterstock.com

So, what exactly is it about a black cat that instantly has us conjuring up images of ghosts, goblins, sorcery, and witchcraft come Halloween? I mean, with all those rotund jack-o-lanterns glowing back at us from the neighbour’s porch, one might think a plump orange tabby might be a better fit for all Hallow’s Eve, rather than the iconic arched silhouette of a jet-black feline, right?

Alas, no… and it’s time to get to the bottom of this.

We’ve all seen images of the mummified remains of highly revered felines entombed next to their owners in ancient Egypt. So, we know that once upon a time, cats of all shapes, sizes, and colors were not only seriously valued but considered sacred and worthy of walking into eternity with their human. What changed?

It started back in the 13th century when the then-Pope determined black cats to be an incarnation of Satan. At the time, witches were not uncommon and in fact, were considered serious competition to the Christian church. This pronouncement was a bid to nudge witchery out of the running and it sadly led to a mass extermination of black felines by those loyal to the church. It was an act that also preceded the church-sanctioned witch hunts that were to take place throughout Europe.

Of course, what happens in Europe never stays in Europe and this ingrained fear and distrust of sorcery crossed the pond when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. By then, the bum wrap that had linked black cats to Satan and all things “witchy” was well established and Christians who considered these felines to be a threat, often exterminated them in what they felt was a bid to protect their homes and families from evil.

As per the author and Wiccan Priestess Cerridwen Fallingstar, “Cats, like the women accused of witchcraft, tend to exhibit a healthy disrespect of authority. They don't fawn, like dogs, upon even the unworthy. In the church, neither independent women nor independent animals were to be tolerated.” Aha, that irksome independence we all love.

What will forever fascinate is that while cats have innately refused to alter their autonomous way of life over the centuries, the world around them has shifted to accommodate and celebrate their defiant nature. Black cats are often revered in countries such as China where they’re thought to ward off evil, Japan where they’re associated with prosperity, and France where they’re considered good luck.

And throughout North America, the spooky heritage that continues to haunt these felines is celebrated every October 31st.

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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