Black cats have long been considered to bring either good or bad depending on where you live. Western history has often portrayed black cats as an evil symbol, perhaps because of their association with witches as their familiars. So it comes as no surprise that in Europe, where folklore surrounding witches was prevalent, a black cat crossing your path is said to bring you misfortune, and possibly even death. Although in the UK, a black cat crossing your path is a good thing, bringing luck and prosperity. This luck is also extended to your home in Scotland, where a cat crossing your threshold is said to bring unimaginable fortune!
The Pilgrims believed black cats were able to change into human form to aid the deeds of witches and demons, so having a black cat in your midst was tantamount to signing your own death warrant. Those caught with a black cat as a companion would be punished, or sometimes killed, and the cat often suffered the same fate. In Europe, with the exception of the UK, who viewed them as good luck, black cats would be killed and burned in Midsummer fires. Luckily, black cats in Egypt didn’t suffer this fate, where they were viewed as good luck to those who allowed them into their home thanks to their attribution to the Egyptian goddess Bastet.
If you were sailing, you would want to take a cat with you too. Black ‘ship’s cats’ were supposedly good luck, although possibly this was more to do with them eating vermin than actually being of luck! Fisherman’s wives would also keep them at home to protect their husbands away at sea. Who’d have thought that the humble moggy would be so influential?