Why Are Black Cats Bad Luck?

Throughout various cultures and historical periods, black cats have been surrounded by myths and superstitions, often being labeled as bearers of bad luck. This belief can be traced back to several origins, ranging from medieval folklore to cultural associations.

But why exactly are black cats considered bad luck, and how has this perception evolved over time? This post delves into the roots of this superstition, its impact on society, and the current standing of black cats in modern culture.

The Origins of the Superstition

The superstition surrounding black cats as omens of bad luck has multifaceted origins, deeply embedded in the folklore and cultural beliefs of different societies.

Medieval Europe

In medieval Europe, black cats were often associated with witches and dark magic. It was commonly believed that witches could transform themselves into black cats to roam unnoticed. This association led to the widespread persecution of black cats, often seen as an evil omen or a witch’s familiar.

The fear was so profound that it led to the mass killing of black cats, which, ironically, increased the rat population and may have exacerbated the spread of the plague.

Cultural Associations

In some cultures, black cats are seen as symbols of death, darkness, and the unknown. Their sleek, dark fur and glowing eyes in the night contributed to their mysterious and ominous reputation.

These visual characteristics, combined with humans’ natural fear of the dark and the unknown, helped cement the black cat’s status as a harbinger of bad luck.

The Impact on Society

The superstition has had a tangible impact on society, particularly on the welfare of black cats. Historically, these superstitions led to the mistreatment and even killing of black cats out of fear.

Even in modern times, animal shelters report that black cats are less likely to be adopted than their lighter-colored counterparts, a phenomenon often attributed to lingering superstitions.

Modern Perspectives

Today, the perception of black cats is gradually changing. Many people now view the superstition as outdated and recognize that black cats are just as loving and deserving of a good home as any other cat.

In some cultures, black cats are even considered symbols of good luck and prosperity. For instance, in Japanese culture, black cats are believed to bring good fortune, and in maritime traditions, they are seen as good omens for a safe voyage.


The belief that black cats are bad luck is a superstition rooted in historical and cultural folklore, with significant consequences for these animals throughout history. However, as society progresses, the narrative around black cats is slowly shifting towards a more positive light. It’s essential to challenge outdated superstitions and view black cats for what they truly are: beautiful, affectionate animals deserving of love and respect.