The madness with the black cat

Black cat with green eyes on a black background

The black cat - about as bad luck as Friday the 13th or going through a ladder. Possibly even worse! But what is there anyway? Is it all fairy tales or a scientific fact? We investigate appropriate to Halloween, the festival of ghosts and the mysterious.

Early beginnings

In the age of Tutankhamun & Nefertiti, i.e. in ancient Egypt, black cats were just like all other cats. Their main task was to free the granaries and all other food stores from the unloved mice and thus secure the basic food supply in the Nile Delta. Black cats might be even better off, because the god of cats, Bastet, was often portrayed as a woman with a black cat. Black cats were thus a walking image of God on earth, so initially far from the bad luck of the black cat.

In Celtic mythology, however, this luck gradually began to turn into unhappiness: There was the cat Sith, a black cat with a white spot on its chest. This was said to steal the soul of a deceased person before the gods could get hold of them. That is why wakes were introduced so that the dead could be buried with their souls intact and so that Cat Sith would not sit on the grave.

In the Middle Ages, this image of the unlucky black cat solidified. In times of the witch hunt, the dark cats were said to have a connection to the witches. They were declared to be the image of paganism and the embodiment of the devil. In the end, they also represented a real disaster for many of their owners, as witches were said to be able to turn into black cats. So owners of such cats were sometimes preventively executed. In addition, one of the most famous spells is still called "Abra Kadabra, Simsalabim three times black cat!", An association with magic and the cat still exists today.

Black cat sitting in front of a light brown background
Black cats - bad luck or good luck charms? Both? Nothing at all?

Black cat, no problem?

This image of the black, unlucky cat pervades our culture to this day. The black cat is so often used on Halloween as a symbol of the eerie atmosphere and to this day crossing a black cat from the left is considered a sign of bad luck. Why from the left? This also has its origin in Central European culture, more precisely in Christianity. There the left side at the Last Judgment was the side on which all bad, unchristian souls stood, while on the right side the good people were gathered.

But even in Europe there are differences in how black cats are perceived. In Scotland, for example, a black cat in front of the door means an imminent financial blessing and increasing prosperity. In the UK as well as Japan, black cats generally mean happiness. If the black cat runs into a sick person, the disease will go badly. If a black cat even jumps on a sick bed, the sick person will die shortly afterwards. At least that's what they say in some cultures.

The black cat also has a very special role in seafaring. On the one hand, it can bring good luck if it is on board or if it lives with the families waiting at home. However, if the black cat enters a ship and immediately disappears, it means that the ship will sink on the next voyage.

We keep it clear: Black cats had an eventful history. From gods to witches to animals of luck and bad luck, the black cat has an enormous mythologically charged history. But there is demonstrably nothing to the whole thing. The only consequence that is really measurable is that fewer black cats are adopted from animal shelters than those of the other colors. So, unfortunately, false superstitions have grave and unjustified consequences for God. We are more like the Chinese philosopher Confucius (551-479 BC):

"Whether it will bring bad luck if you black cat runs across the path depends solely on whether you are human or a mouse. "


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