Why Black Cats Are Considered Bad Luck

Today I found out the origin of superstitions surrounding black cats including why a black cat crossing your path is considered bad luck.

Black Cats weren’t always the butt of superstitions, feared, or even considered bad luck.  In fact, in early Egyptian times, dating back as far as 3000 BC, cats (including black ones) were the rock stars of the animal world, held in high esteem; to kill one was considered a capital crime. It wasn’t until  the middle-ages in Europe that the black cat’s rock star status started to go downhill as they began to be associated with so-called witches. The hysteria of witches practicing black magic had just hit Europe and alley cats were often cared for and fed by the poor lonely old ladies (funny how some things never change) later accused of witchery.

Their cat companions, some of which were black ones, were deemed guilty of witchery by association. This belief was taken up a notch when a folklore involving a father and son in Lincolnshire in the 1560’s started making the rounds. The pair were said to have been traveling one moonless night when a black cat crossed their path and dove into a crawl space. Naturally, they did what any guys would do, they threw rocks at the furry feline until the helpless injured creature scurried out into a woman’s house, who at the time was suspected of being a witch.  The next day, the father and son came across the same woman and noticed she was limping and bruised and believed that to be more than just a coincidence. From that day on in Lincolnshire, it was thought that witches could turn into black cats at night.

The belief of witches transforming themselves into black cats in order to prowl streets unobserved became a central belief in America during the Salem witch hunts. Even today the association of black cats and witches holds strong during Halloween celebrations, despite the holiday’s religious beginnings.  Thus, an animal once looked on with approbation became a symbol of evil omens in some parts of the World.

However, in some cultures, the black cat is still revered and a symbol of good luck even today. The Scottish believe that a strange black cat’s arrival to the home signifies prosperity, while Pirates of the 19th century believed if a black cat walks towards you, it’s a sign of bad luck, but it’s good luck if it walks away from you. In the English Midlands, a black cat as a wedding present is thought to bring good luck to the bride!

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Bonus Superstition Origins:

  • Spilling Salt Superstition–  It is said that a devil sits over our left shoulder and an Angel on our right. Salt is spilled as a warning from our guardian angel of the devil’s evil intentions that loom over us. Hence, you can mitigate your bad luck by throwing salt over your left shoulder into the eyes of the devil, thereby distracting him. Another variation of the superstition is if you throw the salt over your right shoulder it’s considered  an offering to your guardian angel, as salt was once a rare, precious and valuable commodity.
  • Knock on wood or Touching wood Superstition –     Back in the 1700’s wood was considered to be lucky, or full of good spirits.  In 1849, there was even a popular kids game similar to today’s ‘Tag’  called “Touch Iron or Wood”. In the game, kids were considered safe as long as they were touching either iron or wood as they raced along objects.  Others say the luck or good spirits of wood stems back to the origins of the Christian cross.  No matter how you say the term, “touch wood” or “knock on wood”, it’s meant to either bring good fortune or to keep the good fortune you are having to continue.
Expand for References:
Share the Knowledge! FacebooktwitterredditpinteresttumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinteresttumblrmail
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Enjoy this article? Join over 50,000 Subscribers getting our FREE Daily Knowledge and Weekly Wrap newsletters:

Subscribe Me To:  | 


  • what wiill happen is someone kills a black cat

  • In America if you kill a black cat, and get caught doing so, it would be no different than anyone killing any other colored cat. Animal cruelty charges. We have a black cat named Seeaytee. He is a wonderful cat. and has brought nothing more than joy to our lives. He has brought no bad luck, bad thoughts or bad intentions. He is a wonderful pet. He crosses my path multiple times a day and nothing out of the ordinary has ever come of it. I am LUCKY to have this wonderful feline friend.

  • I have a cat named dev-null he is a black cat and he crosses my path EVERY minute I’m home , no bad luck at all 🙂

  • I’ve always had at least one black cat for 40 some years, since one just moved in with me when I was in college, and I’ve
    had more than my share of good luck in that time. I think the Scottish have it right!

  • “…in ancient Egypt cats were the superstars of the animal world, where their deaths were deeply mourned and killing a cat was considered a capital crime.” Strongly agree…my life has been filled with black and black & white cats, and would have been half as rich without them. The Egyptians were obviously very wise and noble people.

  • My wife and I have a beautiful black cat, named Cloe and she has brought a wealth of love and good fortune to us. To even think that a black cat is evil is the ultimate foolish thought regarding animals.

  • I have a black cat he is sweet and cuddly like a doggy. He is fat and likes his tummy rubbed

  • And he is not bad luck

  • I currently have a beautiful black cat named Bastet, after the Egyptian Goddess. Bast, as I often call her, is the sweetest girl, & highly affectionate & intelligent. We adopted each other when she was just over a yr old, & we’ve been inseparable ever since…that would be for the last 9 yrs. Not only does she follow me around the house like my little shadow, but she also sleeps in bed with me every night…usually on top of me. Also, it just so happens that I am Wiccan, & I could not have asked The Elements &/or the Goddess Herself to send me a more perfect familiar.

    My black cat, Bastet, is many things to me…she is my companion, my baby girl, my familiar. However, the one thing Bastet most definitely is NOT, is bad luck!!!

    • Hey Stephanie, can you tell me about most of your beliefs in Wicca? I find them interesting. Thank you.

  • I have 2 female black cats name precious and Inky and I always cross by them and they never give me bad luck

  • In India any cat’s appearance when we start our journey is construed inauspicious. I found in Europe whenever a Black Cat crosses path,people turun to left and spit.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

  • I have two kittens, ones black with green eyes and the other is black with yellow eyes. All they do all day is play with eachother and us. They are most definitely not bad luck, if anything their good luck c:

  • Anybody who is foolish enough to believe in the superstitions of the distant past, probably shouldn’t own a pet of any kind….since there are tons of stupid superstitions about all sorts of animals.

    I was recently adopted by a stray female black cat from my neighborhood. She is definitely one of the most loving and friendly cat’s I’ve ever had the privilege to share my life with. To date, I’ve had no better or worse luck then I ever did…..no matter how many times she crosses my path.

    • Superstition actually prompted the adoption of my two boys as the Japanese people to this day still believe that the black cat is good luck and will bring good fortune on those that are kind to them. We got Hiei and Firefoot at 3 weeks old and they a year and a half later are still our little good luck charms

    • Right on.

  • Well I have 2 bombay black cats named Omen and Voodoo and a tux named Felix and they are all bring good luck and joy to me

  • We have a pair of all black cats that are almost two years old, they are a brother and sister names Jinx and Hex. Absolutely fantastic pets and our lives are better because of them. The only bad luck associated with them was how hard it was for them to find their forever home. Black cats don’t fare well in adoption circles for several reasons. It turned out to be lucky for us.

  • Black cats are not bad luck and people who really believe that are just so stupid. They probably won’t even graduate 1st grade. I have a black cat named Lucy and she gives us good luck if anything so if u believe this good luck getting a job

  • I have a gorgeous black bermese, and I have terrible bad luck lately lol, but I don’t blame my beautiful cat.

  • black cats are killed sometimes on Halloween because there considered bad luck, so people just kill the “bad luck”… i own a black cat and we have to keep the windows closed so people don’t see her. but my black cat Luna has sas, she’s a love bug, i don’t see why anyone would want to kill her. just because she’s a black cat ?! i also found out that some animal shelter’s don’t let people buy black cats because of what they might do to them. i’m sorry to say but that’s freaked up to high hell. witch cat or not you do not kill animals what so ever! (sorry for my typo’s)

  • Today I learned that there are myths in the telling of myths and legends -” Naturally, they did what any guys would do, they threw rocks at the furry feline until the helpless injured creature scurried out into a woman’s house”- VERY offensive quote from this article. Right up there with asian people are smart, jewish people are good with money, black people steal and hispanic people are lazy.

    • The Europeans don’t think the Asians are smart. The US only sees their cream of the crop. The rest go to Europe to collect benefits. All of Asia is third world.

  • The only bad luck associated with black cats is when they are unfortunate enough to encounter ignorant humans. No human has ever suffered from intentional abuse of an animal, feline or otherwise. It’s a shame they can’t say the same about us.

  • i too have a cat but it never brought me a bad luck…… it is foolish to say that cat is a bad luck for some ones life ……………… i love my cat

  • Black cats are considered to be *Good* luck in the UK.
    Why do people in the US think the opposite?

  • I love cats as pets. We have a black cat, which serves as a guard for strangers.

  • This article was very helpful to me. I read the bible regularly, so I don’t know why I’m so afraid of a black cat crossing my path. My grandmother was superstitious, , as well as my mother. Every time a black cat crosses my left, I automatically gets sad, and worry about what type of bad luck I will have. Last night I visited some of my in laws, and noticed a black cat crossed my path. I instantly got a headache, and start wondering what will happen to me next. From now on, I have to let my faith and trust in God stop me from being so afraid of an innocent cat black cat.

    • STOP BLAMING BLACK CATS FOR YOUR HEADACHE!… Sorry for yelling, but black cats are having a hard time getting adopt all because of people like you. Join the 21st century.

    • Sorry for yelling at you in the first place first. I should’ve read your whole comment.

  • I have a wonderfull Black cat named skully

  • I personally like black cats. I dont know why some people have to associate these creatures with bad omens!

  • Who ever believes that black cat bring bad luck most be the most stupid person on Earth. Get into 21st century thinking people. Luckily only 13 percent of people believe on that nonsense.

  • I have a statue of a black cat made from coal ,and I been told that it is bad luck ,is true or false ?

  • LAL means “BELOVED” in Hindi (star trek fan TNG) He is a rescue black cat, a Bombay, so sweet and lovable. He was abused the point of permanent damage by one of those superstious assholes who themselves belong in the hell they are so afraid of.

  • I have a black cat Named Molly. She is the luckiest cat to me!☺️

  • I had a precious black cat named Me’owmers. He wasn’t bad luck, but he had bad luck! He got ran over by a car and spent several months at the vets. He lost an eye, and pieces of his palate and teeth. The vet declawed him (without my permission!) but he could still keep the dogs at bay!