GHENT, WV (WVNS) — Black cats are one of many symbols associated with Halloween, but why are they sometimes considered evil and bad luck?
According to History.com, the origin of superstitions surrounding black cats can be traced back hundreds of years to places such as Ancient Egypt and 13th century Europe. In an official church document in 13th century Europe, Pope Gregory IX declared them “incarnations of Satan” and that was possibly a start to church-sanctioned witch hunts.
In medieval Europe, black cats were also often associated with witches who respected nature and animals. As a result, people suspected of being witches and especially those who also had cats, were viewed with suspicion. However this is not the only connection that the church made between witches and cats. Their personalities are very different than dogs, and their independence was also not appreciated.
While it is not clear when the superstition narrowed to to black cats and witches instead of cats in general, it is believed that it might be due to a black cat’s ability to blend in with their surroundings at night.
Black cats were often killed in the Middle Ages, with some people blamed the cats for the spread of the Bubonic Plague. With the decline of the numbers of cats, the rodent population that spread the plague faced less resistance.
People in medieval Europe also believed that witches and the devil could take the form of a cat, which helped create the superstition of a black cat crossing your path being a bad omen.
Despite the superstitions that surround black cats, there are places that do not believe that they are a bad omen. Cats were honored in Ancient Egypt, and there are countries and cultures that view the cats as good luck.
Occasionally, adoptions for black cats will be paused in October. The reasons for this can vary but it is similar to rabbits and ducklings around Easter. Pausing black cat adoptions during October means that it will be less likely for people to adopt black cats as accessories for the Halloween season, only to return them once spooky season is over. In some cases, the adoptions are paused due to the possibility of people adopting black cats with the intent to harm them, often due to superstitions surrounding the felines.
The Humane Society of Raleigh County is pausing the adoption of black cats until the first week of November because the safety of the animals in their care is one of their top priorities.