Black cats have not always had the bad reputation they have today. Cats of all colors have been worshiped, sacrificed, and feared alternately throughout history. Edgar Allen Poe even wrote one of his most famous plays about the Black Cat.
I decided to do some research and here are a few of the more colorful superstitions I found:
A black cat crossing your path in Britain is considered good luck. (The bad luck belief apparently crossed the Atlantic with the Mayflower.) Interestingly, WHITE cats are considered bad luck in that country.
Wives of French fishermen kept a black cat in the home to protect the fishermen from disaster at sea.
A black cat sneezing near a bride on her wedding day foretells a long and happy marriage.
Petting the tail of a black cat can cure a sty of the eye.
A black cat in the audience means success for your play.
If a black cat meets you at the door, it is an omen of good luck. (This is great news for me, since I have two black cats who greet me at the door every time I come home!) If the cat approaches you, stops, turns around, and walks away, it is a signal of bad luck.
Killing a cat of any color was punishable by death in ancient Egypt. (As well it should be! Should STILL be…) Their esteem of the cat was evidenced by the cat goddess Bastet, who was believed to be the “protector” of the Pharoah. Bastet, the daughter of the sun god Ra, had several names, including Bast, Bastis, Bubastis, Pacht, and Ubast. Besides protecting the Pharoah, Bastet protected against infectious diseases and evil spirits. She was also associated with Music and Dancing.
Domestic cats were viewed as manifestations of Bastet, which explains their high regard in Egypt. They literally protected Egypt’s grain from mice and rats, which may explain how the Cat Goddess inherited other protective qualities.
A nice way to end this post is with one of the more heartwarming superstitions I found: In Egypt, it was once believed that the life-giving rays of the sun were kept in a cat’s eyes at night for safekeeping. (Maybe that’s why they have such good night vision!)
A few links to some interesting cat lore: