The black cat has a remarkable history, from the time when it was deified to the time when it was burned alive, because it was considered to be the devil incarnate. Opinions on the matter are still mixed...
On the 27th of october in the USA they celebrate the day of the black cat, so let's talk in detail about these unique creatures, loaded with so much symbolism.
The belief that black cats bring bad luck has solid foundations in American culture. It was believed to be a bad omen if a black cat crossed your path, but it was a good omen if you let a black cat into your house.
There's the legend of the black cats and baseball - the winning team lost after a black cat came in and started circling third base.
As early as early American history, black cats were considered friends of witches: people who practiced magic often owned black cats and sometimes used them in their rituals, sometimes as sacrifices.
In some witchcraft trials, one of the pieces of evidence was the possession of a black cat by the accused. Some of these cats were even burned alive along with their owners. Even today, it is believed that there are groups that use cats for sacrifice; some think of them as urban legends, others believe them. But most modern witches have black cats as sacred pets.
A black cat is... just a cat with black fur. It doesn't have to be a specific breed, it can be purebred or mixed. The black color helps it hunt at night, but throughout history cats with pure black fur have often been considered a symbol of evil (there are a few cultures where they are believed to bring good luck). These superstitions also exist in modern society; it's a fact that fewer black cats are adopted from animal shelters than any other color. Strange.
Black cats used to be associated with evil and witchcraft. If we look at Jewish and Babylonian folklore, we will see that a black cat meant that a snake laid on one's heart. In Ancient Egypt cats were sacred and when the family cat died, its body was mummified.
The Romans viewed cats in a similar way; it was they who brought cats to Europe. At that time, cats were considered mascots, especially if they were black and crossed your path. First, the Church began to associate them with witchcraft and magic, both black and white cats, they began to get a bad name.
By the 17th century, cats were already fully associated with magic and were a source of fear. Black cats suffered most where there were most witch hunts.
There are several countries that still consider a black cat to be a good omen. In Scotland, an unknown black cat outside a door was a sign of future prosperity and fisherman's wives looked after black cats, because they believed they protected their husbands while at sea. But still, in Ireland, if a black cat crosses your path under the moonlight, it means that you will get ill. In Romania, Moldova and the Czech Republic they still believe in the superstition about the black cat crossing the road!
A famous anarchist symbol is a black cat in a fighting stance and more specifically a symbol of an anarchist movement concerned with workers' rights.
So are they good or bad? It depends on which country you ask the question - some will tell you that these are the most evil creatures and should be avoided, others will argue that they are ordinary animals and should be treated like any other animal.