Feline Folklore: Why Are Black Cats a Scary Symbol of Halloween?

black cat halloween

Halloween is around the corner! Pumpkins are in season, ghosts are the highlight of scary stories, and black cats are the traditional spooky symbol of this scary holiday. But why?

True cat lovers will agree that all cats are lovely – regardless of the color of their fur! We know there’s nothing scary about a black cat! But, we’ve all heard the old superstition that black cats bring bad luck to those whose paths they cross. Where on earth did that silly idea come from?

Black cats weren’t always considered bad luck. It wasn’t until the Middle Ages when people began fearing witchcraft, that black cats fell out of favor. Old English folklore held that witches could shapeshift into black cats and roam the nights, spying on people and wreaking havoc.

That belief crossed the seas with the American settlers and was firmly held during the Salem witch hunts. Legend has it that witches could transform into a black cat and back to a human, emphasizing the superstitions of these furry felines. Some people even believed that witches could reincarnate into black cats after death.

black cats

Even today, the association between witches and black cats can be seen at Halloween in our decorations and costumes. And, though logic would tell us the idea that black cats being unlucky is a completely absurd notion, black cats are the least likely to get adopted from a shelter and hold the highest euthanasia rate – a likely side-effect of this silly superstition.

So how does this all relate to Halloween? The basis of this modern holiday revolves around all things dark and spooky. As a result, witches – and their black cats – have become a commercialized symbol of Halloween. And, it’s no surprise that they also double as one of today’s most popular costumes.

While black cats are said to be scary and unlucky….if you have the love of a black cat, we think you’re the lucky one! Happy MEOWloween!



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