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Are black cats real?

The Symbolic (and Not-So-Spooky) Meaning of Crossing Paths With a Black Cat

B lack cats often get a bad rap. Highly associated with Halloween and all things spooky, black cats tend to stop people in their tracks, make them unsure of how to proceed. If you’re curious about the meaning of crossing paths with a black cat (or if you’re hoping to get over your fear of black cats), you’ll be glad to know that we chatted with two psychics to uncover the symbolic significance once and for all.

What To Do If You See a Black Cat

Seeing a black cat can be very polarizing—depending on how you view black cats, it’s either terrifying or reassuring. “In many cultures, it is customary to spit over your shoulder to counter the evil eye from seeing a black cat cross your path,” says celebrity psychic Inbaal Honigman. “The association of the color black with evil, very likely stems from the very primal fear of the dark. But to many others, a black cat crossing your path is a sign that good luck is on its way, and that prosperity is near.”

Black Cats and Culture

Although cats weren’t considered to be gods in and of themselves, Honigman points out that in Ancient Egypt, it was popular for deities to be depicted as cats or as having cat heads.

“Bastet was a cat-headed Goddess, and Sekhmet had a lion head, which is also a big cat,” Honigman says. “Cats are depicted in a lot of ancient Egyptian artwork, and were even mummified.” Meanwhile, Honigman says that Greek, Roman, and Russian cultures also revered cats for possessing a “noble, hygienic demeanor» and enjoying their company.

All this to say, for centuries, culturally, cats—even black cats—have been praised, not feared. “Cats are reflective, intuitive, and balanced, and so spiritually are said to invoke these qualities in those who come across them,” Honigman says. “A cat of the color black, specifically, can slip in and out of shadows unnoticed, and has the added spiritual gift therefore, of a walker between the worlds.”

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Black Cat Symbolism

Despite being highly revered for centuries, over time, black cats started to become clouded with different meanings. “A black cat symbolizes mystery and secrecy,” Honigman says. “To those fearful of the mysteries, the black cat may represent evil. But lovers of mysteries, magic, and the arts love that aspect of the cat symbolism. In that way, black cat meaning is subjective.

That said, if you keep seeing a bunch of black cats in your everyday life, Honigman says it’s not something to ignore. “It is definitely a message from the universe,” she says, noting that anything that is persistent and out of the ordinary is probably a message. “The Goddess Bastet from Ancient Egypt was a cat-headed deity and often depicted as black in color or as a black cat. Bastet’s message is that of the home, feminine magic, and fertility.” As such, if you continuously see black cats, Honigman says that progress in those areas is likely. “A new home or an impending pregnancy perhaps,” she suggests.

On the other end of the spectrum, though, Honigman says that Bastet was also a shape-shifter, which black cats are known as, too. So, if you’re continually crossing paths with black cats, she says that it might be a sign to change your behavior to get the best results from a specific situation.

A Heavenly Sign

Some animals and people are thought to have powers—take psychics and black cats, for example. It’s because of this, that some people fear them while others embrace the meaning they can bring to life. With that in mind, psychic and creator of Psychic Reading Expert Christine Wallace says that it’s important to be mindful of the potential benefits of crossing paths with a black cat.

“People might fear crossing or getting into trouble with a psychic fearing that there is something sacred or special about them that God protects and they would avenge someone who might bother them or be cruel to them, this goes for a pregnant woman, a widow, or someone who is in mourning, especially if they mourn their own child,” she says. “It’s like the heavens have protected them and given them the power of an evil eye so if you hurt them, they may glance at the one who has hurt them with bitter feelings and some bad fortune would fall upon them.

“The same applies to the black cat and other creatures as well,» says Wallace. «You would not want to kill a firefly, a ladybug, or a butterfly because they are gifted from the heavens.” Why these animals are considered to be so significant is a bit of a mystery. Due to their supposed meanings, Wallace says, crossing paths with them can always be a glass half-full instance. “If any of these creatures or animals are drawn to you this is a very good sign,” she says. “For example, if a black cat comes to play with you, it’s a blessing and good fortune will come—a ladybug or butterfly lands on you, or a firefly in the yard, all these bring good fortune.”


“Just like the number 13, which is seen as unlucky in Christianity, but lucky in Judaism, or plate smashing which invites good luck in Greece, but a smashed mirror is considered bad luck to the Romans, similarly, the black cat is considered both harbinger of fortune and alternatively misfortune, considering where you are,” says Honigman, reminding us all of the importance of perspective. “Like most things in life, superstition is largely a matter of geography.»

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Are Black Cats Really Bad Luck?

Superstition tells us that black cats are bad luck. But here’s what you don’t know about the world’s most misunderstood feline.

October 27th is National Black Cat Day — meow! Most of us have heard the superstitious tales: don’t walk under a ladder, don’t break a mirror, and whatever you do, don’t let a black cat cross your path. Supposedly, all will lead to bad luck. So, how did these beautiful felines get such a bad rap? And how has superstition affected the very real pet adoption statistics for black cats?

How Did Black Cats Become Associated with Bad Luck?

The mythological link between black cats and misfortune seems to trace its origins to a folk tale that made its way around England during the 16th Century. Apparently, two travelers—a father and son—came across a black cat along the road. Startled, they attempted to chase the animal off by throwing stones at it. To escape, the cat sought shelter in the home of an old woman who lived alone.

The next night the pair passed the house again, but this time only the woman was in view. They noticed she was limping and concluded that she was the cat they’d encountered on the previous night. (At the time, it was common to believe that some old women were not only witches but could also alter their form at will.) And while nobody seems sure why the travelers threw stones at the cat in the first place, the association between black cats and danger has endured.

Myths & Misconceptions About Adopting Black Cats

Unfortunately, the quaint 16th-century folk tale has had some very real (and lasting) impacts on black cat adoptions, at least here in the U.S. Huffpost reported that black cats are less than half as likely to be adopted as their non-black counterparts. Also, over a quarter of people surveyed said that color was an important factor to consider when adopting a cat. Thirteen percent of those surveyed also admitted that they were superstitious about black cats. All this spells bad news when it comes to euthanasia. Black cats are not only less likely to be adopted, they’re also more likely to be euthanized than other cats.

In fact, in October, many shelters avoid adopting out black cats to avoid any issues of animal cruelty. What a shame that these majestic creatures are subject to such superstition and danger.

Why Adopt a Black Cat?

While they may have lost the fight for folk hero status, black cats do have some solid science in their favor. The combination of all-black fur and orange eyes is associated with some wins in the genetic lottery. A 2003 study published in New Scientist used melanin mapping to sequence the genes associated with an all-black coat in cats. They found that the combination of a black coat and orange eyes (found in big cats like jaguars as well as in domestic cats) boost immune resistance to some diseases.

Black Cats in Other Cultures

Outside the U.S. and Western Europe, the myth that black cats are bad luck loosens its hold. In many places, such as Russia, Egypt, and China, black cats are actually seen as signs of good fortune.

In ancient Egypt, the goddess Bastet (daughter of Ra) was portrayed as having a human body and the head of a black cat. Consequently, some Egyptians believed that having a black cat (or several) in the home could draw goodwill from Bastet. The cats were also served a practical purpose—protecting the home from vermin and snakes.

And In Chinese and Japanese culture, the “Maneki Neko” (beckoning cat) is a common symbol of good luck. And while the cat’s raised paw might look threatening to Westerners, it’s actually a welcoming gesture. One legend holds that a man caught in a sudden storm took shelter under a tree. He noticed a cat nearby that seemed to beckon him to enter a temple. He accepted the invitation, and moments later the tree was struck by lightning. Because the cat had saved the man’s life, it was viewed as a symbol of good fortune. Each “beckoning cat” is believed to have different strengths, depending on the animal’s color. The black cat is thought to ward off evil.

In some cultures, black cats are seen as good omens for pending nuptials. In Japan, owning a black cat was once believed to attract more suitors to a young woman seeking a husband. And in the English Midlands, giving a black cat as a wedding gift was believed to bring the bride good fortune and happiness.

While the black feline’s reputation in Western Europe is generally dark, there are some bright spots. For example, English and Irish sailors in the 17th through 20th centuries believed having a black cat aboard assured a safe journey. For this reason, black cats were often made ship’s cats—where they were also helpful in protecting the ship’s stores against vermin. Sailors’ families also embraced the black cat at home, believing its presence would assure their loved ones’ safe return from the sea.

Famous Black Cats

Fortunately, superstition has not stopped celebs from adopting black cats. From Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway to Bob Dylan and Cher, celebs have long loved their onyx felines. And a few black cats have achieved their own degree of notoriety, including “Binx” (from Hocus Pocus) and “Salem” (from Sabrina the Teenage Witch).

Black Cat Appreciation Day

To help restore the positive reputation of these beautiful onyx cats, the US annually celebrates National Black Cat Appreciation Day as well as National Black Cat day. While you may not get the day off from work, it is an opportunity to adopt a black cat into your family, as many shelters offer reduced adoption fees for all-black felines on these days. When you’re considering pet adoption, check with your local shelter to see if they’re celebrating, and remember that black cats are just waiting to bring you the good fortune of their love and companionship!

Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.

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