If you’re shopping for Halloween decor, you’ve likely seen at least a few items featuring black cats. But while they’re associated with spooky imagery and bad luck in many places, some cultures have a much greater appreciation for black cats.
Black Cats Bring Romance
In some places, black cats are believed to be a lucky sign for those looking for love. In Japan, single women who own them are thought to attract more suitors. While it doesn’t speak specifically to black cats, studies have shown that owning a pet can help with interpersonal relationships. One survey found that 63% of respondents said they were “very likely” to date a pet owner. The study also revealed that pets can make great icebreakers, as 54% of people said they bring up their pets to start conversations with new people.
In Great Britain’s English Midlands, black cats are also considered to be great wedding gifts. They’re believed to bring good luck and happiness to the bride. It’s also said that newlyweds with a black cat in their home are destined for a long, happy life together. And to top it all off, the furry friend is also thought to ward off evil spirits.
This regional trend is a pretty significant departure from common wedding gifts elsewhere. According to Zola, the most popular wedding gift in the United States is a cast iron skillet. In looking at the state-by-state data, kitchenware items took the top spot in 25 of the 50 states. So, if you do decide to bring a black cat as a wedding gift in America, you probably won’t have to worry about having the same present as another guest.
If their supposed ability to spark romance wasn’t a strong enough selling point, in some places, black cats are also thought to attract wealth. This belief is held in several Asian countries, including Japan. Cats’ ties to wealth in Japan trace all the way back to 1602 when an imperial decree set free all cats in Japan. This was intended to capitalize on their natural ability for pest control, especially in the sericulture community. After the silk trade declined, cats still remained as talismans for a business’s prosperity.
In fact, you may be familiar with the maneki-neko, a common Japanese figurine that’s sometimes referred to as the “waving cat.” However, the cat isn’t actually waving in the sense that western cultures think. Its name translates to “beckoning cat” in Japanese, as in Japan, the way to beckon someone over to you is palm forward, fingers pointing down. The meaning of the figurines changes depending on which paw is raised. The right paw attracts money and good fortune, while the left invites friendship and customers.
The color of the maneki-neko figurines is also said to provide additional benefits to the owner. A pink figurine can increase your luck in love, as they bring romance. Gold maneki-neko figurines are said to attract wealth. And if you want a black maneki-neko to go along with your real-life black cat, it will help ward off evil spirits.
Black Cat Superstitions
Not all superstitions surrounding black cats are negative. They may find themselves as welcome guests on Broadway. A black cat in the audience of a play on opening night is believed to symbolize a long and prosperous run of the show. Some theater actors have even been known to have them backstage to encourage stellar performances and bring good vibes to the venue.
And if you’ve been searching for gold at the end of a rainbow, you may have been chasing the wrong lucky symbol all this time. A superstition among French peasants held that if a black cat was released at a crossroads where five roads intersect, the cat would lead them to treasure.
Black cats have a particularly special place aboard British ships. While cats were welcome additions to any sailing for their ability to hunt mice, black cats, in particular, were thought to bring good luck and ensure a safe return home. Some of them have even earned their place in history, like Tiddles. Tiddles was the ship’s cat of HMS Victorious during World War II, and he traveled more than 30,000 miles during his time with the Royal Navy.
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