The sight of a black cat on a dark night can cause shivers to run up one’s spine. Black cats often appear in great numbers in all sorts of media, decorations, and celebrations during fall and especially in the month of October. But why do people find black cats to be creepy? What does it mean when a black cat crosses your path? You will get different answers to these questions depending on who you ask. At the end of the day, cats are just cats, and a black cat crossing your path means whatever you want it to mean, or nothing at all. However, your background, history, and perspective may change how you view a black cat.
Are Black Cats Bad Luck?
Many people associate black cats with misfortune or bad luck. This is a superstition that stretches back centuries. Many European Christians in the Medieval Period and the Renaissance believed that black cats were portents of the devil or the companions of witches. It was said if a black cat crossed your path, illness, misfortune, and even death could be in your future.
Black cats were also thought of as harbingers of plague. The plague was spread by infected fleas, which often fed on the blood of numerous rats. Since cats were usually in the vicinity of rats and fleas, they were erroneously connected to the deadly disease, which only enhanced their reputation as a symbol of bad luck.
The truth is that black cats are not bad luck. Cats cannot be bad luck. They are associated with bad luck and misfortune due to long held beliefs, stories, and superstitions, but black cats are no different from any other cats. In fact, black cats are even considered lucky in some cultures.
Black Cats Are Sometimes Considered Lucky
Despite most people associating black cats with bad luck, some people in history have considered black cats to be good luck. The Egyptians revered cats as divine symbols and messengers to the gods. Sailors throughout history have long had a great relationship with cats. Many captains refused to sail without a ship’s cat on board, and black cats were considered to be better than other cats.
In some countries, black cats are considered lucky. In places like Britain, Germany, Ireland, and Japan, people are happy to encounter a black cat because it means that they are in line for some good luck. Three of these countries – Britain, Ireland, and Japan – are island nations with strong connections to the sea and any culture with a strong connection to sailing usually has a strong affinity for cats.
Why Is It Considered Unlucky for Black Cats to Cross Your Path?
If the history and superstitions surrounding black cats are mixed, why do many people consider black cats crossing your path to be bad luck? In Western culture, media, and history, black cats are associated with more bad than good. Black cats still feature heavily in movies as companions of witches and villains. They also retain their strong negative connections to things like Satanism, bad luck, and Halloween.
Black cats are still seen as spooky and are looked at as omens. For these reasons, some people still consider it unlucky for a black cat to cross their path. Seeing a black cat at random out in the world makes people think of bad luck, illness, magic, and other negative things.
However, as we said, some people might see the same cat and consider themselves to be lucky or blessed. Like many superstitions, it is all about your perspective.
Change Your Perspective, Change Your Fortune
So, what does it mean when a black cat crosses your path? It means whatever you want it to mean. Your perspective, your cultural background, and inherent superstitions will determine whether or not you think a black cat is lucky, unlucky, or neither. If you choose to consider black cats to be lucky rather than unlucky, you can change your outlook in an instant.
If you grew up in a typical American cultural background, where black cats are the pets of witches and appear in scary movies, you are more likely to consider them to be unlucky. But you can change your perspective. There was a black cat named Unsinkable Sam, which survived multiple shipwrecks. Some people considered him unlucky for being on multiple ships that sank. Others considered him lucky and a good omen because he survived numerous shipwrecks. Your perspective changes your views on situations such as these.
When cats are crossing your path, they are just living their lives. They are likely going somewhere or running away from something. Cats are not targeting people individually to dole out luck, either good or bad. They just exist out in the world.
Black cats have been associated with both good luck and bad luck. Some people today love all cats, no matter what color they are. Despite black cats having a ream of associations attached to them, they aren’t different from any other type of cat. The meaning of a black cat crossing your path is going to depend on your cultural background and your personally engrained superstitions. Those factors are different for everyone.
There can be two people walking towards each other on the sidewalk, a cat can walk between them, and each person can have a completely different reaction. One person might consider themselves cursed, and the other could consider themselves blessed based on their own particular background.
Featured Image Credit: Sergio Foto, Shutterstock