“Doesn’t Bella creep you out?” Andy asked, raking his black-painted nails through spikes of neon purple hair.
The object of his curiosity reclined on my lap, bubble gum-pink tongue lapping at her glistening, black as pitch, tiny paw. I had no idea what the boy was talking about.
“She’s a cat,” he observed, “and completely black!”
Chuckling over Andys’ skill at stating the obvious, my nod urged him to delve a bit deeper.
“Hey, everybody knows that black cats bring bad luck,” he insisted, then paused to watch my complexion darken, eyebrows shooting toward my auburn hairline.” I’ve always believed they have something to do with evil, witchcraft and wizardry.
Resisting the urge to smack my young Goth friend alongside his multiply-pierced head, I decided it was time to give Andy a crash course in Feline Fantasies 101, aka What the Heck Are You Thinking, Oh Child of the the New Millennium?” Lowering the flame beneath a cauldron of thick, blood-red liquid and allowing it to bubble, curious and exotic aromas fragrancing the cottage air, I beckoned the boy toward the sanctuary wherein stood an altar containing the knowledge I hold most sacred. Black, surrounded by books and images evoking magic and mystery, a gateway to hallowed history and the potential future, it awaited a simple gesture from my ancient, gnarled finger to commence conjuring.
“Okay, she’s booted up,” I announced. “Now you Google ‘cat superstitions.’”
For the next few hours, Andy and I examined hundreds of the half-million plus references to be found online regarding felines and the global superstitions associated with them. For me, it was time well-spent as ideas for future Kitten Smitten articles presented themselves. Andy also benefited, his preconceived beliefs replaced by an expansion of time-honored and referenced information. With mugs of warm tomato soup in hand, we compiled some of the notions he thought significant, as well as their sources (along with my random commentary) when possible:
* Ailurophobia comes from the Greek words for cat, ailuros and fear, phobos. People with this condition suffer from persistent, abnormal terror about the risk of being physically harmed by cats or the superstitious idea that cats are evil. Hypnosis may help.
* Other than an occasional, vague mention of “hoarding” as being symptomatic of Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder, no absolute psychiatric definition could be found to explain the mindset of “crazy cat” people.
* A strange black cat discovered on one’s porch brings prosperity. – Scotland
* Killing a cat brings seventeen years of bad luck. – Ireland
* A Celtic belief was that kittens born in May were badly behaved and troublesome; mythologically, the month of May was a time of ill-omen – the British Isles.
* It is bad luck to see a white cat at night; dreaming of one means just the opposite. – USA
* Ginger kitties appear to have expressive senses of humor. – Global general-ism
* A cat is very often kept as a lucky mascot in the theatre and disaster strikes any actor who dares to kick it! – Backstage everywhere
* Solid grey cats, as well as “tuxedo” kitties, bring good fortune. – USA
* If it moves, ATTACK! – Universal Cat Operating Manual
* The moment a box has been scrubbed and filled with new litter, cats must immediately poop in it. – Universal Feline Irony
* Leaving a box of kittens on a stranger’s doorstep is rude and inconsiderate. – Janet World
* Cats RULE; dogs drool! – Kitten Credo
Next: More lessons in feline superstitions