Superstitions: Black Cats


Superstitions and stories around black cats vary from culture to culture. In Great Britain, Ireland, and Japan, black cats are actually a symbol of good luck. The Scottish believe that a strange black cat’s arrival to the home signifies prosperity.

In Western history, black cats have often been looked upon as a symbol of bad luck, and animals that associate with witches.  It is especially bad luck if a black cat crosses paths with a person, which is believed to be an omen of misfortune and death. In Germany, some believe a black cat crossing a person’s path from right to left, is a bad omen but from left to right will bring good times. Black cats are also considered bad luck with gamblers if it crosses a gambler’s path.

Supernatural powers were ascribed to black cats were sometimes viewed positively with sailors who believed keeping a “ship’s cat” would bring good luck. Fishermen’s wives would also keep black cats at home in the hope that they would be able to use their influence to protect their husbands at sea.

Black cats have been found to have lower odds of adoption in American shelters compared to other colors (except brown). To promote the adoption of black cats, “National Black Cat Awareness Day” is held on August 17 in the UK.