During the times of the Egyptians, cats were known to bring good luck and they were treated like royalty. They were dressed in jewels and were fed like royalty. But that’s not all, they even had a goddess named after a cat, her name was Bastet and she would protect the home from evil and diseases, especially diseases that had to do with women and children.
In the 8th century, sailors and fishermen would use black cats for sailing companions and good luck charms and at times, watch the cat’s behavior to predict the weather. If a cat would sneeze it would be a sign of rain to come, if the cat was snoring, it meant bad weather was coming and if it groomed itself, it meant good weather.
Celtic mythology records describe a cat called Sith, or Sidh, and was believed to be a fairy cat to haunt the Scottish highland. It was a black cat with a white spot on its chest and was about the size of a dog, and was known to take souls from the unburied dead. One other belief, is that these creatures could turn into witches and could go back and forth from being a human into a cat eight times but on the ninth time, the witches would stay a cat forever. And that’s where some people believed the phrase, “cats have nine lives,” comes from.
To prevent the creature from taking souls, people would put the corpses into cold rooms because the Cat Sith was attracted to warmth. They would also ward them off with riddles, music, and even catnip. On dairy farms, cows’ milk was often stolen during Samhain or what is now Halloween. People would place fresh bowls of milk for the Cat Sith so the milk of the cows wasn’t taken.
As people moved around and into America, these beliefs carried over and even to the Salem Witch trials where it was believed that if you owned a black cat, you automatically had something to do with witchcraft. People thought that witches could turn into black cats to go out at night and cast spells on people. And just like the witches, black cats were also burned on Shrove Tuesday to prevent homes from fires caused by the cats.
Nowadays, these myths still live on, and black cats take two to three times longer to get adopted, three to four million cats enter animal shelters and nearly 71 percent don’t find homes and that’s mostly black cats. It’s not all bad though because on August 17th…well it’s black cat appreciation day.