Some people are terrified of black cats. Others avoid them because they’re harder to frame for Instagram aesthetics. Black cat adoptions surge during Halloween, but many shelters reject these requests in case the cat is used for a ritual prank or as part of a witch costume.
In both cases, the cat might be hurt or abandoned soon after. Sadly, at other times of the year, black cats are the least likely to be adopted from feline rescue centers. But what is the spiritual meaning of black cats? You’d be surprised some can bring good luck! Let’s find out!!
Spiritual Meanings of Seeing A Black Cat
1. Wealth and Prosperity
Lots of people think black cats are bad luck. In India, if a black cat crosses the highway, most people will park their cars. Sadhguru explains how big cats, particularly panthers and tigers, will cross an open space then pause or sit to watch their tracks. This posture seems so human that people thought the cats were looking at them, and they would reflexively stand and wait.
But in many ancient traditions, black cats brought wealth. Most cats like to bring gifts to their owners, like a dead rat, frog, or bird. So in some cultures, you could catch a matagot or mandagot by offering chicken then carrying the cat home without looking back. If you gave your matagot the first sip or bite of your meals every day, it would repay you with a gold coin.
2. Safe Passage at Sea
Sailors and conquerors discovered new worlds by crossing the oceans on boats and ships that seem rickety today. The ships used sails and oars, and it was a miracle that anyone made it back home! And because these vessels often had rats, it made sense to have a cat or two onboard. Black cats were thought to be especially lucky, especially among the British and Irish.
They were thought to be such powerful protectors that it cost a fortune to buy one and take it on your boat. In other places, fishermen’s wives would typically keep a black cat at home and pamper it because it would guarantee their husbands made it back safely. Both England and Ireland are islands, spiritual meaning the bulk of people were seafarers who prized these dark felines.
3. Bad Luck and Evil
One of the most common misconceptions about black cats comes from their association with witchcraft. They’re often seen as familiars. These magical companions of witches and wizards are thought to have powers that include astral projection. Some can even disguise themselves as humans, or serve as a container for their owner’s soul. That’s why they symbolize death.
It’s also why many people think of black cats as vessels for demons. One superstition suggests if you see a black cat, you should take three (or thirteen) steps back to avoid their bad aura. Other people kill black cats on sight to prevent them from spreading evil. It’s common advice that if you see one crossing the path in front of you, turn around and go back home.
4. Love and Marriage
Cats in general – and black cats in particular – are seen as helpful guardians because they ward off rats and snakes. In Old England, newlyweds would often receive a black kitten as a wedding gift. It makes sense – these communities were largely agricultural, and the cats would control rodents that could damage food in the gardens as well as granaries and silos.
Black cats, therefore, came to be seen as a blessing, bringing wealth in the form of hearty harvests. And by killing pests that cause disease, the cats ensure their owner’s family a strong, long, healthy life. Meanwhile, in a distant island nation, single women would get black cats because they were thought to attract husbands. Oddly, today the opposite is true!
5. Success for Theatre Folk
We’ve already talked about how and why farmers love cats, whatever color they may be. But among the Norse people, Freya rose a chariot of two black cats. Farmers would leave milk out for Freya’s cats (even though we now know most cats are lactose intolerant). In return, Freya would bless them with bountiful harvest. What about actors, writers, and musicians?
Lots of artsy types keep cats because they’re flexible and independent, so they’re easy to accommodate with eccentric show schedules. But even in the Shakespeare days, they believed seeing a black cat in the audience would make the show successful. Especially if it showed up on opening night. So if you’re launching a show, get a black cat for the premiere!
6. Treasure and Pirate Booty
Earlier, we mentioned mandagots and how if you let them eat before you at every meal, they’d grant you a gold coin every day. We’ve also discussed why sailors loved them so much, both practically and spiritually. So it makes sense that pirates would have black cats on their ships. And that these black-beard-kitties (pun intended) would know all the hiding spots.
This could be why the Ancient Gauls saw black cats as an organic treasure detector. They believed if you lured a matagot and took it to a junction that had five forks, the cat would show you the path that would lead you to treasure. It would essentially pick the road to its previous owner’s home – a pirate with hidden booty. So they came to be seen as secret wealth finders.
7. Good or Bad Luck, Depending on Direction
Some of us have a hard time telling right from left, and this can be tricky if you live in Germany. Long before the Nazis, Bavarians and other tribes had strong pagan practices that included fertility rituals and sacrificial feasts. So black cats were both feared and revered. If you saw a cat crossing ahead of you and it suddenly turned direction, it was seen as an omen.
Logically, this makes sense because cats have such keen senses that if they’re avoiding a specific spot, you probably should too! That said, if the cat crossing your path was walking from right to left, that was seen as bad luck. But if it was walking from left to right, you’d have good luck for the rest of the day. Incidentally, Germans drive on the right, just like us…
8. White Cat Magic … If You Can Find It
These days, we think of Turkey as the nation that loves cats the most. But interestingly, a 2020 survey showed Germany and France are the two leading countries when it comes to pet cats. So it’s not surprising to learn about a spiritual French myth connected to black cats. They think every black cat has a single white hair which is said to be the source of its magic.
If you can successfully wrangle the cat and find that white hair without getting a single scratch, it means the cat approves of you and will bring you wealth, success, and good luck. This was an old belief, and in truth, lots of black cats get grey or white hairs when they’re unwell. And, of course, this doesn’t refer to tuxedo cats, which have a white chest or neck.
9. Household Guardians and Energy Sensors
It’s scientifically proven that cats can see and hear things we can’t. It’s why they’ll suddenly freeze, stare into space, then growl, hiss, or run off. For some reason, they love doing this during the witching hours. As humans, we assume they’re looking at ghosts or spirits and that they’ll warn us against invisible malevolent forces. And they heal wounds by purring.
Their purrs have frequencies of 25 to 140Hz, and this has been proven to heal bones faster. It could be why we think they have nine lives. Based on all these extra-sensory abilities, cats can help you know when someone in your circle has negative intentions. Since black cats are particularly sensitive familiars, they can pick up bad psychic vibes, and even detect sick cells.
10. Fertility and Good Health
Ancient Egyptians worshipped a goddess named Bast or Bastet. She was often depicted in statues as a black cat wearing precious jewels, and she was the goddess of fertility and disease. This makes sense because Egypt relied on the flooding of the Nile Basin for survival and agricultural prosperity. And, of course, cats kept crops safe from rats and other rodents.
Lots of people wore cat amulets to protect them from evil forces. Possibly because cats stay home all day and sleep close to 20 hours, Bastet was the guardian of households, women, and childbirth. Cats also seem sneaky and mysterious, so Bastet was thought to protect the secrets and treasures of matriarchs. They kept evil spirits away when men weren’t around.
11. Physical Form of the Devil
The origin of this belief has two possible paths. Because people believed witches hid their souls inside black cats, people attacked the cat to kill the witch, who was sometimes just a lonely old women who kept cats for company. It was also thought these witches would turn into black cats at night so they could camouflage themselves in the dark and do their spells.
But a closer connection comes from Pope Gregory IX. When Catholicism started to spread, church leaders adapted some pagan practices and banned others. Lots of pagans revered back cats, so the pope officially made black cats a sign of the devil to deter pagan practices. Sadly, the idea stuck. He also stopped people from eating horses, a common pagan sacrifice.
12. Personal Power in Magic
Anecdotally, when the pope said black cats were bad, so many of these creatures were killed that their absence helped the black plague spread faster. But Christianity has such a strong cultural hold that even today, some people in France – where cats were once seen as wealth-bearing matalots – will spit over their shoulders three times any time they see a black cat.
Spiritual Meaning, both the US and the UK have designated a Black Cat Day (August 17th in the US and October 27th in the UK). Because cats are more independent than dogs, they sometimes symbolize personal power in the magical realm. It means your magic will be stronger if you infuse yourself into i t instead of just using incantations and spells. Get invested in the rites.
13. Growth and Vision in Spiritual Realms
Because of how their genes are aligned, all kittens have blue eyes which turn to their permanent color at 2 to 3 months. And black cats can only have green eyes or golden eyes unless they have heterochromia, then they might have one blue eye. These eye colors have a spiritual significance because black cats are so often used as familiars. So what’s their sign?
Golden eyes (or yellow eyes) imply extra-sensory vision, so these cats can help you see more clearly into other dimensions. But if your familiar has green eyes, the symbol is ethereal growth, wisdom, and knowledge. A magical scribe might prefer a green-eyed black cat while a psychic may go for a golden-eyed feline. (Though technically, it’s your cat who chooses you…)
14. Unfinished Business from Past Lives
During the early months of the pandemic, there was a meme going around about how we’ve all turned into cats because we’re sleeping all day, snacking endlessly, avoiding people, and cleaning ourselves constantly. There were also a bunch about how our dogs were excited that we were home all day and our cats were stressed by our presence and just wanted us to leave.
But on a more serious note, having a cat as your totem could mean you’re into snacking, sleeping, and being aloof. It could also mean you’re flexible, versatile, and eerily able to get out of (and into!) tight spots. The sages say all these exceptional abilities mean you have issues to resolve from your past life … that’s why you chose a ninja totem that has nine!
15. Caution in Your Actions
They say curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought it back. (Nine times, apparently!) And if you have cats, you know all the tricky and sometimes terrifying situations they get into. But while all cats take weird, unexplainable risks, black cats are more susceptible. It’s harder to see them in dark places, and many humans are already hostile towards them.
This means black cats are more likely to get hurt while they’re sniffing things out. A black cat totem may therefore warn you to be more cautious and to apply your camouflage capacity carefully. You need to believe in yourself, just like cats do. Don’t give in to the gossipers and back-stabbers that insist you’re evil or bad luck. You’re beautiful and powerful and blessed.
Embrace the Mystery of Black Cats
Throughout history – and even today – black cats are controversial creatures. You could see one as the Celtic Sith that tried to steal souls from the dead unless the mourners distracted it with noise. Or you could view it as the spirit guide that sees into the multiverse and traverses dimensions. When was the last time you saw a black cat? Tell us in the comments!