Halloween and cats -- why do these two things go to together so well? If any animal is emblematic of Halloween -- and of all things vaguely spooky -- it’s surely our feline friends!
But why do we think of cats as being so spooky? Well, as cat owners, maybe we don’t, since we delight in their purrs and cuddles, and marvel at their grace. But in honor of Halloween, and the mysterious time of year, we’re exploring some of the history, superstitions, and myths surrounding cats.
1. Spooky Cat Superstition: Black Cats Are Bad Luck
If you own a black cat, then of course you know this to be untrue! A cat’s coloring does not make it sinister or bring on bad luck. And yet through the years, people have ascribed negative luck to black cats, from thinking them to be witch’s familiars during the witch hunts of medieval times through the 17th century to believing it’s bad luck if a black cat crosses your path.
For as many negative beliefs as people have about black cats, there are nearly as many positive superstitions: it’s considered good luck, for instance, to dream about a black cat. And in ancient Egypt, having a black cat in your home would bring about good fortune and please the goddess Bastet.
2. Not-so-True Spooky Cat Belief: Cats Are Nocturnal
Cats have a reputation for being nocturnal, running up and down hallways in the slow early AM hours, and generally playing and exercising when people typically sleep, and then napping away most of the daylight hours. But most cats are actually crepuscular, rather than nocturnal, which means that they are most active at dusk and dawn, when the light is low. During true nighttime, cats too desire sleep, just like their pet parents.
3. Spooky Cat Superstition: Cats Always Land on Their Feet
Perhaps because of their adventurous jumps and graceful landings, cats are rumored to always land on their feet. The physiology of cats helps to support this belief: cats’ backbones are far more flexible than ours, which allows them a great deal of jumping ability and agile landings. However, this does not mean that a cat will always be able to right themselves if dropped from a distance or falling from great heights.
4. Not-so-True Cat Belief: Cats Love a Baby’s Breath
One cat superstition states that a cat will steal a baby’s breath, or, more commonly, smother an infant with aggressive cuddling. In fact, there are no known instances of cats smothering infants. Of course, if you have a cuddly cat, you know that most likely the reason cats like to snuggle with infants is because they enjoy snuggling in general, particularly with warm things, and also often enjoy a closed space. It’s probably best to keep cats out of the nursery when unsupervised, and to introduce them slowly and carefully to infants, but no need to worry that they’ll bring harm to a baby.
5. Spooky Cat Superstition: Cats Have Nine Lives
This myth is so widely known that a brand of cat food is named after it: 9Lives. But no creature, feline or otherwise, is so lucky as to have multiple lives. This superstition may arise from a cat’s ability to jump and land gracefully, and their knack for escaping trouble just in the knick of time.
This One’s Actually True
Cats Love a Nap in Fresh Clean Laundry: There may be a lot of superstitions and beliefs about cats that are wildly off-base, but here’s one that any cat owner knows to be true: leave a pile of freshly cleaned laundry on a surface, and your cat is sure to want to take a nap right on top of this slightly warm, and very cozy, pile of clothes. If you don’t fancy fur on your newly clean laundry, keep that door closed!
What’s your favorite cat myth or superstition?
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