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Black Cats: Good Luck or Bad Luck?

Black Cats: Good Luck or Bad Luck?

People have been fascinated by black cats for centuries – and as a result many superstitions evolved throughout history and across cultures. Today, most people in America consider black cats – especially one that crosses your path – to be a sign of bad luck.

Gamblers are particularly wary of black cats. It is believed that if a black cat crosses your path on the way to a casino, you should turn around and go home as you are now marked for a run of bad luck. (I cannot help thinking that this last superstition was created by a gambler’s wife who purposely – and regularly – planted black cats in her husband’s path when he was off to squander the family fortune!)

So many Americans are superstitious about black cats that they have the lowest adoption rates. Shelters often must host special black cat adoption months and offer steep discounts on black cats as an extra incentive for someone to choose one over a tiger tabby or calico. However, October is usually avoided as the month to promote the adoption of black cats in an effort to discourage the frivolous use of “live Halloween decorations.”

That said, bad luck is not the only luck assigned to a black cat. There are numerous cultural superstitions where a black cat portends good luck. Here are a few examples:

  • In many Asian countries, owning a black cat today is considered lucky.
  • In England, a black cat is good luck – unless you live in Yorkshire and then it is deemed bad luck!
  • In Scotland, a black cat suddenly appearing on your doorstep is a sign of future prosperity.
  • In the 18th and 19th century in Northern Europe, a fisherman’s wife would actively seek out a black cat as it was believed it would ensure her husband’s return home safely after a fishing expedition.
  • In Japan, black cats are a sign of good luck. Many single women seek a black cat as this cat is believed to bring many suitors.
  • In ancient Egypt, the black cat personified the goddess Bast, and was believed to bring good fortune.

I find it fascinating that this one color of cat could portend bad luck in one culture while attract the precise opposite luck in another. What is it about the black cat that incites the human imagination in such extremes?

How do you react to a black cat crossing your path? Would you – or have you – adopted a pure black cat, or does superstition hold you back? Please share your stories and/or your superstitions about the mysterious black cat in the comments.

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Read more: Blogs, Cats, Feline Muse, Halloween, Pets,

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Cherise Udell

Cherise Udell is a mom, clean air advocate, anthropologist and feline aficionado with the nomadic habit of taking spontaneous sojourns to unusual destinations. Before her adventures in motherhood, she was an intrepid Amazon jungle guide equipped with a pair of sturdy wellingtons and a 24-inch machete, as well as a volunteer at a rainforest animal rescue center.


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5:53PM PDT on Sep 12, 2014

racism amongst cat

5:20PM PDT on Jun 23, 2014

Black cats are just as loving, cute, and cuddly as any other. I'd never discriminate a cat based on it's color, that's as stupid as doing it to a person. I actually really love their striking black fur with dramatic sheen, it's really quite beautiful to see a black cat in the light. I think it's really sad that people are dumb enough to believe a superstition and not adopt a black cat based on this misguided belief.

7:03AM PDT on Oct 16, 2013

I did not realize we were still living in the dark ages, with superstitious beliefs. This is the 2000's, not the 1200's.

11:07PM PDT on Aug 17, 2013

After recently rescuing a black cat, I researched and meditated on this. Based on the plethora of belief systems that denote good luck to a black cat the a considerable lack thereof, that denote bad luck. (Besides the anti pagan examples and those directly connected tothem) I would be happy to conclude that. If there is any luck to be had at the paw of a black cat, that it would be good luck. Maybe someone at some time wanted others to miss out on all the good luck to be had.

10:57PM PDT on Aug 17, 2013

After recently rescuing a black cat, I researched and meditated on this. Based on the plethora of belief systems that denote good luck to a black cat the a considerable lack thereof, that denote bad luck. There seems to be a pattern forming that suggests that a certain influencial

3:22PM PDT on Aug 2, 2013

I love all animals and consider them all good luck.

7:20AM PDT on Aug 1, 2013

I love black cats!!! I have two right now. They have been some of the best cats I've ever owned!

1:42PM PDT on Jul 31, 2013

In France we have the "black pearl day" !! Shelters encourage people to adopt either black cat or black dog !! I have 2 black cats ( both rescued from the street) !!! I LOVE BLACK CATS !! I should say that I consider myself quite lucky . And superstitions are Dark Age business!!!

7:42AM PDT on Jul 31, 2013

All cats are good cats and bring good luck!

3:17AM PDT on Jul 31, 2013

I love it when a black cat crosses my path. In fact, THREE black cats do so everyday in my house. MY cats :)

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Hey, you guys forgot the male calico cat.


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