If any animal more representative of Halloween than the black cat? How come this the way it is? In this article, we will explore why the cat is the feline symbol of Halloween as well as other cat myths and how these false notions came to be.
Cats in History: In ancient times, cats were revered and considered god-like. In ancient Egypt, the goddess Bastet was appointed to remind us that cats were sacred. They were worshipped and considered holy. In fact, it was considered that having a cat in your home would bring about good fortune.
As times change, we know that peoples’ attitudes change. So, in the case of felines, what was celebrated in ancient civilizations became the bane of later societies, especially during the hyper-religious days of the middle ages. Legend has it that the Devil tried to recreate man but managed to only create a skinless, feline-esque beast that was given a fur coat as his only possession of value.
Hence, cats in general--and black cats in particular--became linked to the Devil, the night, and the darkness. With the dominance of religion in society then, cats were relegated to scapegoats and witchcraft. They suffered greatly as a result.
Black Cats as Bad Luck: As we know today, the mythology of the middle ages that characterized cats as witches’ companions and symbols of evil is completely untrue. However, some holdovers still remain: For many years after medieval times, people believed that bad luck followed you after a black cat crossed your path. For this reason, there are still many people who will not adopt a black cat. Since this totally untrue, there are now groups of people who not only adopt black cats but revere them as the sweetest of all felines. There is also the old wives tale that it is good luck if one dreams about a black cat.
Cats are Nocturnal: Falling right in line with those superstitions that promote cats as evil beings is the erroneous belief that cats are nocturnal “creatures of the dark,” somewhat like vampires, I suppose! This comes from the fact that cats have been known to be active in the early dawn hours when people are sleeping and restful and sleepy during the day when humans are awake and about.
Due to their ancient hunting instincts, cats are indeed most active during the early morning and early evening hours. This is when their sight is sharpest--in the low light of both early morning and late day. It is to their advantage to hunt their prey at both of these times. Rather than being nocturnal, cats are “crepuscular.” This means that they are most active at dawn and dusk.
Cats Always Land on Their Feet: Oh, that this were in fact, true! Due to their ability to jump great heights and to land so gracefully on narrow ledges, it is rumored that cats always land on their feet. Though cats’ backbones are much more flexible than ours, allowing their high jumps and agile landings, cats cannot right themselves if falling from a great heights, so do not attempt to test this!
Cats Will Steal a Baby’s Breath: This superstition means that a cat will smother an infant by cuddling. In actuality, there are absolutely no instances of this. It seems to have been passed down from ancient Hebrew folklore where Adam’s first wife assumed the shape of a giant feline and preyed upon newborns. Still, a good idea to supervise carefully when introducing cats to new infants at home.
Cats and Their Nine Lives: Since cats can scale heights and land gracefully, this could be the reason why this myth also became so widely known. Or, is it because cat’s get into and out of trouble just in a knick of time? You be the judge, but don’t believe a word of these old wives’ tales. And have a spooky, happy Halloween. May it be filled with Kitty’s favorite cat treats, and yours as well!
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