Black Cats 101: Are they Good Luck or Bad Luck?

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may contain affiliate links which will reward me monetarily or otherwise when you use them to make qualifying purchases. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Why are black cats so enchanting? These midnight fluff balls have captured hearts and minds for centuries, inspiring stories, myths, and more. Read on to learn about the meaning behind black cats, superstition surrounding them, and what kind of luck they bring! And don’t forget to scroll down for the best names for black cats!

Table of Contents

Types of Black Cats

Black cats are simply cats with lots of melanin in their fur. Many black cats actually have an underlying tabby pattern which cat be seen in certain lighting. Black cats make wonderful companions. They are like friendly, cute shadows with eyes that will purr by your side.

Black Cats Meaning

Black cats carry with them a weight of significance. Different cultures have varying stories around black cats, so the meaning of a black cat will change depending on who you ask.

Are Black Cats Good Luck?

Yes! Some cultures find black cats to be a positive and reassuring symbol. If a black cat crosses your path, it may be a sign that good luck is on its way to you.

Black cats having a positive association likely stems from historical cultures that generally favored felines. In ancient Egypt, deities were commonly depicted as cats or with the head of a cat. Cats are featured prominently in Egyptian artwork. Greek, Roman, and Russian cultures also have positive myths about cats. In China, black cats are associated with good fortune, wealth, love, and long life.

From a practical perspective, cats used to keep rodents away from food stores. Curbing the rodent population also helped to reduce disease. This was a huge boon to society before modern medicine and sanitation helped keep everyone healthy.

European sailors consider black cats to be lucky. British and Irish sailors considered adopting a black “ship’s cat” because it would bring good luck. A black cat aboard these ships would be well cared for.

Black cat myths and superstitions

Are Black Cats Bad Luck?

In the USA, Spain, Italy, and other countries, black cats are often associated black cats with evil, bad luck, and death. In other countries, black cats are thought to bring hunger and poverty. In this case, a black cat crossing your path is said to be a bad omen.

Certain customs dictate that spitting over your shoulder will counter the evil. Other advice states that you should take at least 3 steps backwards when you see a black cat, to reverse any bad luck.

Celtic lore states that a fairy creature called the “Cat-Sith” took the form of a black cat with a white patch on its chest that was capable of stealing souls.

Black Cats Superstition Origin

In the Middle Ages, black cats got a bad rap because they were hard to see in the dark and tended to spook people. Their reputation was further damaged during the Black Plague when they were associated with disease – ironically, since they were helping to control the rat population that was spreading disease.

Halloween began as a holiday marking entrance into the decay and darkness of the winter months. Black cats have long been associated with witches and sorcery. 

The trope of the witch originated with wise women village healers who became misunderstood and vilified by religious zealots. When illness, hunger and misfortune set in in winter months, Europeans were quick to blame the wise women and claim that their mystical (likely herbal and nutritional) remedies had gone wrong.

As the idea of witches were incorporated into the Halloween events, black cats were as well as a result of their association with witches. In the 16th and 17th century, Puritans began killing black cats as part of their witch-hunting obsession.

Black Cats Superstition during Halloween

Witches and Halloween have a strong association because of the time of year – the time when the northern hemisphere delves into chill and darkness – and the celebration of all things spooky and evil, which describes witches. Since black cats are associated with witches, black cats came to be associated with Halloween.

Black Cats & Witches

The association of black cats with witches is thought to have begun when a black cat ran home to a house where a witch supposedly lived. This association inspired the quote “When witches go riding and black cats are seen, the moon laughs and whispers ”tis near Halloween'”

When witches go riding, and black cats are seen, the moon laughs and whispers, ‘tis near Halloween.

Some beliefs postulate that witches can turn into black cats during the daytime. Other stories state that black cats are the natural sidekick to witches, and assist them with spells and ride with them on their brooms. Some modern day wiccans believe that black cats can chase evil spirits from the home.

What Happens to Black Cats on Halloween?

Due to their association with dark forces and the occult, some people find black cats offensive, especially around the Halloween holiday. Black cats can fall victim to violent rituals or abuse in the name of the season. In fact, in cities with a strong culture of superstition, many animal shelters will hold black cats during the month of October. This is in hopes of protecting them from harm.

However, in other cities where this isn’t a concern, shelters will capitalize on the fun of the season to market adorable black cats and kittens. This can help to get more adoptable animals into loving forever homes. You might find discounted adoption fees on black cats to celebrate them during this time.

Why are black cats considered a symbol of Halloween?

In addition to their association with witches, black cats are iconic in and of themselves and contribute greatly to the brand of Halloween. Black cats aren’t too scary for children, but the stories around them bring a mystical element to the celebration. Bright eyes peering out of a nearly invisible cat in the dark provide fun and surprise. They are a natural choice for a Halloween symbol.

Black Cat Personality

Black cats do not inherently behave differently than other cats – they just have more melanin in their fur. Like cats of other colors, they are frequently intelligent, charming, friendly, independent, and loyal.

Black Kittens

Black fur is the dominant gene in the kitten fur gene pool, so black cats are somewhat more common than other color cats. In order for a litter of kittens to have black kittens in it, both the mother cat and the father cat need to have at least one black fur gene. Then, the kittens need to inherit the non-agouti fur gene that codes for solid color cats instead of tabbies. There’s a good chance of a black kitten in most litters of kittens that happen by accident.

For more on cat fur, check out our articles on cat fur genetics, bicolor cats, and tabby cats.

Why are black cats called voids?

A void is defined as a “completely empty space”. Black cats are sometimes called voids because of how they blend into dark spaces. When a black cat sits in darkness, you can often only see their eyes shining out at you from a realm of nothingness. Cat lovers have accidentally shut their black cats into cabinets and dark rooms because they were practically invisible. This ability to vanish into shadows has earned black cats their loving “void” nickname.

Black Cats Names

There are so many fun name options for black cats! Here are a few names that reference black cats’ beautiful deep color.

  • Boo
  • Cobweb
  • Darkness
  • Dracula
  • Frankenstein
  • Goblin
  • Magic
  • Merlin
  • Moonlight
  • Mystique
  • Omen
  • Potion
  • Spider
  • Trickster
  • Werewolf
  • Alley
  • Mousetrap
  • Schrodinger
  • Thundercat
  • Shock
  • Sky
  • Smoke
  • Sneak
  • Soot
  • Speckle
  • Night
  • Nocturne
  • Onyx
  • Phantom
  • Pounce
  • Raven
  • Sable
  • Sharpie
  • Stallion
  • Spy
  • Storm
  • Vanish
  • Arrow
  • Batman
  • Bullet
  • Gothic
  • Licorice
  • Luna
  • Matches
  • Moon
  • Nebula
  • Opal
  • Puddles
  • Salem
  • Shady
  • Shady Lady
  • Ash
  • Blackberry
  • Blot
  • Charcoal
  • Cinder
  • Dusk
  • Dust
  • Ebony
  • Eclipse
  • Felix
  • Godiva
  • Ink
  • Jet
  • Jinx
  • Knight
  • Midnight
  • Wednesday
  • Zorro
  • Catacomb
  • Slim Shady
  • Voodoo
  • Whiskers
  • Zenith
  • Iris
  • Thunder
Black Cat Names

Kelsey Madison

Kelsey Madison is a cat lover, fostering enthusiast, part time vet tech & writer. She has fostered close to 300 animals over the last 10+ years, and currently has 3 beautiful tabby cats who love to stick their faces in her morning lattes. She is passionate about helping others develop a deeper understanding of their beloved felines and learn more about fostering.

Leave a Reply