The Truth About Black Cats

An image of the top half of a black cat's head, as if it is mischievously peeking up at you over a counter or table. Its eyes are wide and it is excitedly looking at something off-screen.

What Is the Meaning of a Black Cat?

Black cats have been unfairly associated with bad luck for many centuries. This has often led to negative outcomes for them, ranging from simply being avoided to going unadopted to being victimized in dangerous stunts during the month of October.

However, the truth about black cats isn’t quite so simple. Let’s take a moment to learn the real meaning of a black cat sighting and understand where this stigma may have originated. Understanding the true meaning of a black cat sighting can help people dispel any preconceived notions that modern society might have about black cats, allowing them to enjoy a more nuanced and love-filled existence, as all beings deserve.

The History of Black Cats

The stigmatization of black cats may have begun in the Middle Ages, when cats were thought to be aiding in the spread of the bubonic plague and were frequently killed as a result. Ironically, cats hunted and killed rats, and were likely actually reducing the spread of the plague. 

Then, in the 13th Century, Pope Gregory IX labeled black cats an incarnation of Satan in the official church document “Vox in Rama,” turning the supposed meaning of a black cat sighting into something darker. Black cats and witches became linked because the early Christian church viewed witches, meaning pagan practitioners, as directly oppositional to their goals. Because witchcraft works in harmony with the natural world and often results in an affectionate relationship between animals and humans, witches and black cats were lumped together by the church, and they have remained that way.

At some point, a rumor that witches could turn into cats also began to spread. The superstition about the dangers of a black cat crossing someone’s path originates from the idea that a black cat was either a witch itself or on a mission from a witch, if not just an incarnation of the devil. All of these were scary prospects, leading to the notion that it was bad luck to cross paths with a black cat. Historically, people would ease their fears after crossing paths with a black cat by running to the nearest church and paying the priest for a blessing in order to rid themselves of the curse that they thought they’d been exposed to.

Black Cats Have Many Meanings

It’s also not completely random that cats developed such associations. Much like witches, who were seen as independent women that functioned outside of society and manifested their will through magic, cats are independent, especially when compared to dogs, unwilling to fawn over just anyone and rarely listening to authority.

In many places and belief systems, the meaning of a black cat is thought to be much more positive. In fact, black cats have sometimes been viewed as symbols of good luck. More recently, black cats have even come to suggest fortune in some of the European locales where these rumors likely started in the first place.

Some traditions also view black cats as positive markers for romantic relationships, magnets for wealth and resources, harbingers of safety, and helpful companions for travel. While the meaning of a black cat sighting varies from place to place and culture to culture, these creatures are certainly no more evil or malicious than any other type of animal.

Handling the Black Cat Stigma

Black cats are simply cats with black fur. They are as capable of magic and/or mischief as any other cat. It’s important to stop unfairly associating black cats with nonsensical rumors that should have been left in the past. Black cats deserve to be treated with the same love and kindness extended toward other cats, so the next time you hear someone perpetuating these rumors about black cats, consider sharing this knowledge with them and encouraging them to reconsider.

That said, while black cat encounters are by no means inherently negative, they aren’t without spiritual meaning either. It’s just that the meaning of a black cat isn’t as dark or as ominous as popular culture might have you believe. If you have a black cat and want to know what they’re thinking — or if you have crossed paths with a black cat and want to know what that might mean for you — consulting with a Pet Psychic or a Life Path Psychic can help you uncover whatever it is that you need to know.

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