cat superstitions
Photo by Lachlan Gowen on Unsplash

Cats have long been associated with superstitions, with beliefs ranging from luck to misfortune. Throughout history, these mysterious and independent creatures have captivated the human imagination, giving rise to a myriad of superstitions. In this article, we will explore the origins of cat superstitions, debunk common myths, and delve into the fascinating world of cat beliefs around the globe.

Origins of Cat Superstitions

The origins of cat superstitions can be traced back to ancient civilizations. In ancient Egypt, cats were revered and considered sacred beings. They were believed to bring good fortune and prosperity to their owners. The Egyptians even went as far as mummifying cats to ensure their companionship in the afterlife. However, as civilizations developed, so did the superstitions surrounding cats.

During the Middle Ages in Europe, cats became associated with witchcraft and dark magic. Due to their nocturnal nature and mysterious behavior, cats were often seen as the familiars of witches. This association led to widespread persecution of both cats and their owners, resulting in the mass killing of these innocent creatures. The fear and suspicion surrounding cats during this time gave birth to many of the superstitions that still persist today.

Common Cat Superstitions Debunked

While cat superstitions may have a long history, many of them are simply myths and hold no basis in reality. One of the most well-known superstitions is that black cats bring bad luck. However, this belief varies depending on the culture. In some countries, like Japan and Scotland, black cats are considered a symbol of good luck and prosperity. It is important to remember that a cat’s color has no bearing on the luck it may bring.

Another common superstition is the belief that breaking a mirror brings seven years of bad luck. Although this belief is not directly related to cats, it is interesting to note that cats are often associated with mirrors. In reality, the superstition arose from the ancient belief that mirrors were portals to the spirit world. The fear of breaking a mirror and inviting misfortune stems from the belief that a broken mirror would shatter one’s soul.

Cat Superstitions Around the World

Cat superstitions vary greatly across different cultures. In Japan, the “Maneki-neko” or beckoning cat is a common talisman believed to bring good luck and fortune to its owner. In Norse mythology, the goddess Freyja was said to travel with a chariot pulled by two large cats. These cats were believed to bring blessings and protection. In contrast, in many Western cultures, black cats are associated with witchcraft and are seen as a symbol of bad luck.

In some parts of the world, cats are believed to possess spiritual powers. In ancient Egypt, the goddess Bastet was often depicted as a lioness or domestic cat, symbolizing love and protection. In Celtic mythology, cats were believed to have the ability to see and communicate with spirits. These cultural beliefs highlight the deep-rooted connection between cats and the supernatural.

Famous Cat Superstitions in History

Throughout history, there have been numerous famous cat superstitions that have left a lasting impact. One such example is the belief that cats have the ability to predict the weather. Sailors in ancient times would often observe the behavior of ship cats to determine if a storm was approaching. If the cats were restless or behaving erratically, it was seen as a sign of an impending storm. This belief persisted for centuries and contributed to the association between cats and weather forecasting.

Another famous cat superstition revolves around the number of lives cats possess. Cats are known for their agility and ability to survive falls. This led to the belief that cats have multiple lives, with nine being the most commonly associated number. This myth has been perpetuated in literature and popular culture, cementing the idea of a cat’s resilience and ability to cheat death.

Cat Superstitions in Literature and Pop Culture

Cat superstitions have also found their way into literature and pop culture. In Shakespeare’s playMacbeth, the appearance of a cat during a witch’s gathering is seen as a sinister omen. This scene further strengthens the association between cats and witchcraft.

In the world of pop culture, the fictional character of Salem Saberhagen from the TV seriesSabrina the Teenage Witch has become an iconic representation of a talking black cat. Salem’s character perpetuates the superstition that black cats are associated with dark magic and mischief.

Cat Superstitions in Different Cultures

Cat superstitions vary greatly depending on the culture and region. In Chinese folklore, the “Jiāo” or “Jiaobei” is a divination tool that involves using a pair of crescent-shaped wooden blocks. One block is marked “yes” and the other “no.” It is believed that if a cat jumps over the blocks, the answer to the question posed will be accurate.

In Turkish folklore, it is believed that cats have the ability to see and communicate with jinn, supernatural creatures in Islamic mythology. Cats are often seen as protectors against evil spirits and are highly respected in Turkish culture.

Interesting Facts about Cat Superstitions

Did you know that the fear of cats is known as “ailurophobia”? This condition is relatively common and can cause intense anxiety and panic attacks in individuals who suffer from it. Another interesting fact is that black cats are less likely to be adopted from animal shelters due to the superstition surrounding them. This has led to many campaigns promoting the adoption of black cats and dispelling the myth of their bad luck.

How to Dispel Cat Superstitions

Dispelling cat superstitions requires education and understanding. By learning about the origins and cultural context of these beliefs, we can begin to challenge and debunk them. Encouraging positive experiences with cats and promoting their companionship can help shift the perception of cats from being symbols of misfortune to being beloved pets and companions.

Celebrating Cats Beyond Superstitions

Cat superstitions have a rich and complex history that continues to captivate our imagination. While some beliefs may persist, it is essential to recognize that cats are intelligent, independent, and loving creatures deserving of our respect and companionship. By celebrating cats for who they are beyond superstitions, we can foster a deeper connection with these fascinating animals and appreciate the joy they bring to our lives.

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Sima Ndlebe

Sima Ndlebe


Sima writes for CatBuzz. He is interested in Cats, Health and Fitness, and Entrepreneurship.

Published: 13 October 2023

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