Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Black Cats

Written By: Levena Lindahl

                How did black cats come to be seen as bad luck, especially when cats come from a history of being worshiped as gods by the ancient Egyptians?  Traditionally speaking, black cats got a bad name from the Middle Ages by being associated with witches, witchcraft and the Devil.  This belief that the cats were dangerous and evil got so widespread that black cats still suffer from its echoes even today, especially in areas like Rome, where thousands of black cats are killed every year for no reason other than deep set fears.

                It wasn’t just black cats that were shunned during the Middle Ages, but any cat.  They were so associated with ‘evil’ things that during the Black Death they were all but wiped out in Europe.  Cats were thought to be working with witches and evil spirits to spread the plague.  This irrational fear and hatred towards cats actually made the plague worse for the continent by removing the main predator of the rats that carried the infected fleas.

                The thought that cats were familiars of witches was carried from Europe into North America and the new American colonies.  Black cats were also a part of the Salem Witch Trials, thanks to the Puritans who made up the colony.  Puritans were devout, religious Christians who had fears of anything Devil- related and sadly the lingering belief of cats being linked to witches and devilry made them targets during the Trials.

                In some cases, the act of the cat crossing your path was enough to give you bad luck or represented a bad omen coming your way.  Many people since the Middle Ages have gone out of their way to avoid having a black cat cross their path, for fear of being cursed by its presence.  The cat, meanwhile, probably wondered what was wrong with the human before deciding it didn’t care.

                Now, that old fear of black cats still affects pets today, especially around Halloween.  While black cat decorations are popular, there are people that go out of their way to hurt cats, especially black ones, around this time of year.  Please, if your cat has darker coloring and is an indoor/outdoor cat, keep them inside for Halloween.  Keep them safe from people who use an old fear tactic as a reason to harm pets who just want to go about their business and get home to their families.


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