You’ve heard the myth that cats have nine lives, but where did that idea even come from? Likewise, why are black cats associated with bad luck when they’re so darn cute and cuddly?
Even if you’re not superstitious, you’re probably a little stitious (ba dum tss), so you might wonder if there’s any truth to these cat superstitions. Simply put, no. But each myth has a pretty interesting and spooky story behind it.
Do Cats Really Have Nine Lives?
It would be amazing if our pets could spend nine times as long with us, but the answer is a sad no. Cats don’t have nine lives.
Oddly enough, no one really knows where this superstition came from. Some say it’s thanks to the old proverb, “A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays, and for the last three he stays.” Others blame Shakespeare’s mention of nine lives in Romeo and Juliet, and a few say it’s just because cats cheat death so often, since they’re super agile and fast.
Cats and Witches
Cats and witches have been connected since the Middle Ages, when people became convinced that cats were witches in disguise. This could be because cats are crepuscular, so they’re most active during nightfall and the wee hours of the morning, when all things “evil” supposedly lurk. Cats were even blamed for spreading the bubonic plague.
Black Cat Superstitions
Even though all cats were considered evil for a while, it’s black kitties that got the worst rap from all these cat superstitions. In Western culture, black cats are still seen as signs of bad luck, death, mystery, and evil. Of course, there’s no evidence or truth whatsoever behind these claims. In fact, black cats are really special in that the gene for black fur makes these cuties resistant to diseases like FIV.
But in Japan, Cats Are Considered Lucky
On the other hand, in Japan, cats are considered really lucky. Cats are thought to have protective powers and bring good fortune along with them. They’re such a lucky symbol that maneki-neko figurines, which are the little waving cats you’ve probably seen, are displayed in storefronts and restaurants to bring the owners good luck.
Cats Crying at Night Superstition
Superstition says if you hear a cat crying at night, it’s a bad omen. Specifically, if someone in the house is sick, the crying could foreshadow their death. This myth ties in with the overall belief that cats are evil, but there’s absolutely no truth to this superstition. Instead, your cat is probably trying to tell you something, like the fact that they’re bored, hungry, or not feeling so great.
Superstitions Around Cat Death
As an animal lover, you know that maliciously killing a pet is never ever OK, but Irish superstition says that if you kill a cat, you’ll be cursed with 17 years of bad luck. This belief probably came about because cats were (and still are) highly valued in a lot of cultures, particularly ancient Egypt. Apparently, killing a cat was seen as the highest crime and was punishable by death.
When a Cat Comes to Your House
If a cat shows up at your house, it’s a sign of good luck. People say good times are ahead of you, and it could even signify protection. This makes sense because any time we get to see a cat, we count ourselves very lucky!
Breath-Stealing Cat Myth
One of the most common cat superstitions, which has been a big source of stress for new parents, is that cats can steal a baby’s breath. Cats love being warm and adore milk just as much, so it’s understandable how this myth came about. But rest assured, it’s impossible for a cat to steal anyone’s breath.
What It Means if Your Cat Grooms Themselves
Legend has it that when a cat grooms their face with their paws, it means an unexpected visitor will make an appearance. It’s unknown exactly where this superstition started, but some say it’s a Japanese tale. Others say that a cat washing their face means a storm is on the way.
Cats Will Share Your Secrets
You shouldn’t share secrets in front of your cat, according to a superstition based in the Netherlands. Many believe that cats are gossipy and will spread your innermost secrets to others. We’re not sure how this one started, but someone must have been eavesdropping while an owner spilled the tea to their kitty.
Cat Superstitions and Pregnancy
There’s a lot of superstition around cats and human pregnancy. Some people say cats can sense when a person is pregnant before they even know. There actually might be some truth to this, because cats have very sharp senses and can probably smell the changes happening in the body. Interesting!
When a Cat Jumps Over a Grave
You may not have heard this one before, but folklore says that cats can bring back the dead. If a cat jumps over a grave, legend has it that the deceased will rise as a vampire. This myth is most well-known in Southern Europe, specifically Serbia.
Kittens Born in the Month of May
Kitten season lasts from March to about October, but kittens born in May are said to be different from the rest. For a while, people believed that kittens born during the month of May are “troublesome” and have special powers. Like most myths, a handful of rowdy kittens probably ruined it for the rest. We can’t speak to those born specifically in May, but in our opinion, all kittens misbehave a bit when they’re little.
Superstition Ain’t the Way
Superstitions can be fun to read up on, especially around Halloween, but don’t believe every myth you hear. Black cats are not unlucky, and, unfortunately, cats don’t have nine lives. But now that you know a bit about where these superstitions started, you can share them with others and help bust these myths for good.