The black cat
is a feline whose fur is uniformly or mostly black. It is not a particular breed
of cat and may be mixed or of a specific breed. In Western history, black cats
have often been looked upon as a symbol of bad omens.
The black cat in a fighting stance is a historically important
Historically, black cats were
symbolically associated with witchcraft and evil. In Hebrew and Babylonian
folklore, cats are compared to serpents, coiled on a hearth. In the Middle Ages,
Germanic peoples and the Normans associated the black cat with "bad luck". To
some, they were an omen of impending
death. On roads, a black cat crossing one's path was considered a signal of
Since the 1880s, the color black has been associated with anarchism. The
black cat, in an alert, fighting stance was later adopted as an anarchist
symbol. More specifically, the black cat is associated with anarcho-syndicalism,
a branch of anarchism that focuses on workers' rights. Anarchists, Situationists
and Revolutionary Industrial Unionists (such as the IWW) believe that wildcat
strikes could be the spark for revolution.
In the 1930s, the Wiccan religious tradition emerged. Since much of Wicca is
reconstructed from supposed witchcraft practices, the black cat was adopted as a
The archaic associations of black cats with bad luck or evil appear
North American popular culture, but are no longer widely held. Contrarily in the
UK black cats are the most well known sign of good luck and have always been so.
By some human beings,
black cats are seen as desirable pets.
Eveready Batteries uses a black cat leaping through the digit 9 as its logo -
one of the most recognizable company trademarks.
Cats, in witchcraft folklore, are often believed to be familiars of human
witches, because of their purported psychic and magical abilities. Both historically and in modern times, those who practice
witchcraft often keep cats as pets.
Black cats, because of their ability to remain unseen in dark places or at
night, were considered especially desirable partners for witches. Some witches
were purported to have the ability to
shape-shift into a cat nine times, hence the archaic belief that cats have "nine
lives". Black cats were sometimes used in magical rituals, sometimes as purported participants, other times as sacrifices.
In witch trials, ownership of a cat was often taken as "evidence" of Satanic
association and witchcraft. Cats, believed to be evil in their own right, were
often punished as well as humans during these trials, often being burned alive.
Both historically and today, some religious and spiritual groups purportedly
engage in ritualistic
sacrifice of cats, though studies have mainly found that such reports belong
squarely in the province of urban legend. Cats are never sacrificed in Wiccan rituals, harming animals or
people being against the religion.