Black Cat Superstitions

Black Cats as Bad Luck Omens

Black Cats and the Dark Arts

Cats have been thought of as sacred by numerous cultures throughout time. To this day, the black cat remains one of the most notorious creatures when it comes to superstition.  It was believed that the black cat was a familiar of witches, and became an omen of ill luck throughout the ages. Other traditions state that the Devil himself takes the guise of the black cat at night, and they should therefore be avoided.

Black Cats and Bad Luck

When a black cat crosses your path in the night time it is considered very unlucky. Similarly, to meet a black cat at twilight will bring bad fortune.

In years past, railroad workers were particularly weary of black cats, thinking that a black cat crossing the tracks at night was an omen foretelling of a death of one of the workers.

In Germany, black cats were kept away from children as they were thought to be omens of evil

Black Cats and Sickness

An old German superstition states that if a black cat sits on the bed of a sick person, it is a sure sign that they will die.

If the black cat sits upon the person’s grave after their death, it is enough to arouse suspicion about the whereabouts of their soul.

To dream of a black cat at Christmas time was an omen of an alarming illness.

Black Cats as Good Luck Omens

Black cats are not always a sign of bad luck. If a black cat should come to your house and take up residence there, it is a sign of good fortune to come.

Some sailors have a similar superstition. They believe that every black cat that comes on board “carries a gale in her tail”, and strong winds will bless their voyage.  Kill a black cat on board, or throw it overboard, however, and the ship will suffer terrible storms, if not an outright shipwreck.  Sailors’ wives used to keep black cats, as they thought they would bring their husbands good luck and keep them safe while at sea.

The mysterious creatures are also believed among some to bring not only good luck, but love as well. According to an old saying,

Whenever the cat o’ the house is black,
The lasses o’ lovers will have no lack.

A superstition among the Pennsylvania Dutch was that black cats cure epilepsy.

In parts of England, it was thought that brushing a black cat’s tail over the eye of a child would cure its eye sores.

Various Other Beliefs About Black Cats

Black cats are said to have more “electricity” in their coats than cats of other color. They are thought more likely to shock people who touch them.

In the Southern US it was believed that an old maid would take possession of a black cat upon death.

Black cats were thought to be more viscous and spiteful than cats of other colors.

WARNING! The following archaic beliefs are real, but may upset cat lovers. Read at your own risk.

In some parts of the Southern United States, it was believed that cutting off the end of a black cat’s tail and burying it under the door step would keep sickness out of the family.

Another old superstition says that the blood from a black cat’s tail will cure “fits”, while another states that a drop of the tail’s blood cures croup.

The heart of a black cat applied to an open wound was thought by some to stop bleeding.

A unique New England superstition said that it would be good luck to throw a dead black cat over the left shoulder and turn around twice.

In one of the most bizarre and gruesome beliefs from centuries ago, it was thought that carrying the skin of a dead black cat in your clothing would cure you of rheumatism.


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  1. Pingback: Omens of Death in Folklore & Superstition | Superstition Dictionary

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