Why are black cats traditionally a witch’s familiar?
I did some of my own research so hopefully this is right. Feel free to correct any historical inaccuracies or add your own knowledge.
- Cats were once worshiped across ancient civilizations, especially Ancient Egypt. They were a symbol of multiple goddesses.
- Once Rome became Christian, all Pagan practices went out the window.
- At the beginning of the agricultural age people started bringing cats with them wherever they migrated because they were so good at keeping mice at bay. Since people were storing grain this was especially important.
- Kittens were even given to newlywed couples as a housewarming gift to bring good luck.
- When men went to war and women became widows, they were often left with just their cats for company. Hence the “lonely woman with cats” stereotype.
- These widowed old women who lived alone were also the most likely to be accused of witchcraft and burned at stake.
- A Pope in medieval times declared that cats were satanic and many cats were burned alive. This was a huge mistake on the part of humans as the mice and rat population consequently skyrocketed, leading to the Black Plague.
- Black cats, with their unusually dark fur and yellow eyes were thought to be the familiars of witches, even being able to transform into humans and do evil deeds.
Overall, black cats and witches share a very similar history. Once revered in the Ancient times only to become ostracized once Christianity took hold of the world. Black cats were once a symbol of multiple Goddesses- something that the patriarchy of the church hated. They shared the same fate of being burned for suspicion of being ungodly and Pagan. But in reality, black cats and women, whether witches or not, were all too often each others only companions.
Today, there is much confusion about black cats. Whether or not they are good or bad luck varies country by country. Because of this old superstition, they are the least likely to be adopted in animal shelters even though they make some of the best companions. As someone with the most affectionate, silly, funny, and playful black cat, I highly recommend adopting one. They need you and we need them.