How Black Cats Became a Part of Halloween

Updated on October 28, 2019
Chuck profile image

Chuck enjoys celebrating holidays with his family. This has led to an interest in researching & writing about holidays & their traditions.

Why Are Black Cats Associated With Halloween?

Like other holidays, Halloween has symbols associated with it. These symbols help to shape our view of the holiday. When we think of Halloween, we think of the colors black and orange. Images of jack-o-lanterns, bats, witches, black cats, and other scary creatures come to mind. But how did these symbols come to be a part of Halloween?

Today, black cats are as much a part of the Halloween tradition as pumpkins and witches. However, black cats have not always been associated with Halloween. In fact, from ancient times until recent history, black cats do not seem to have been connected to Halloween. Their modern association with Halloween appears to be a relatively recent and mostly American contribution to the holiday.

Victims of Circumstance

Cats are nocturnal animals, and this preference for prowling at night certainly doesn't hurt their chances of becoming a fixture for a nighttime holiday. In addition, being all black enables black cats to blend in with the darkness, leaving only the eerie glow of their eyes visible—another plus for the inclusion of black cats as icons for a scary, nighttime holiday.

From very ancient times to the present, cats have been kept by humans as pets. But, unlike dogs, which have long had the reputation of being man's best friend, cats have generally been either loved or hated by individuals and cultures.

Cats' habit of sneaking around and silently stalking their prey has caused many people to dislike or be suspicious of cats. These factors have led some people and cultures to associate black cats with bad luck or view them as a sign of an evil presence.

Cats have joined jack-o-lanterns as scary Halloween symbols.
Cats have joined jack-o-lanterns as scary Halloween symbols. | Source

King Charles I and His Black Cat

While Americans have a superstition about bad luck resulting from a black cat crossing one's path, other cultures have looked upon black cats as bringing good luck.

King Charles I (1600-1649) of England had a black cat that he adored. When the King's cat suddenly became ill and died, his good luck seemed to die with it as King Charles himself attested.

Given the King's political blunders, inept ruling, and numerous enemies, it is probably safe to say that his luck would have run out whether or not the cat died, but the coincidence of the cat's death and his arrest (and subsequent beheading) was sufficient for King Charles and others to attribute his misfortune to the loss of the cat, which had seemed to have previously brought him good luck.

While this is not the reason for black cats becoming a spooky Halloween symbol, the king's misfortunes following the death of his cat did help to reinforce the idea among some people that black cats and misfortune were related.

Black Cats Linked to Witchcraft and Sorcery

In most Western cultures, the color black itself has many negative connotations. Many people are scared of the dark; black is associated with death and funerals; a negative action is a black mark on one's reputation; black arts are a synonym for sorcery. The list goes on

In addition to their color, black cats also suffer from their supposed association with witches. In times past, some elements in the Christian Church associated the ancient Celtic and other pagan religious practices with evil and devil-worship. Witchcraft fell into this category, and the Church would periodically persecute those suspected of witchcraft. Some myths held that witches could take the form of black cats while others held that black cats assisted witches.

All is not lost! It appears that some marketer is trying to improve the image of black cats by preparing this lovable black pumpkin cat decoration.
All is not lost! It appears that some marketer is trying to improve the image of black cats by preparing this lovable black pumpkin cat decoration. | Source

Black Cats and the Ancient Celtic Festival of Samhain

While the fall festival of Samhain, which was celebrated by the ancient Celts of Ireland and is the ancestor of our present-day Halloween, did not involve sorcery or devil worship, many have come to associate it with these things.

Samhain did involve a belief that this date, which marked the changing of the season from summer to fall, was a time when the natural barrier between our world and the spirit world was temporarily lifted, allowing spirits of the dead to return.

Once back in the world, it was feared that the spirits of the dead would enter the bodies of people and animals and, for some reason, a myth came about that claimed that returning spirits were attracted to black cats.

Evil and the Color Black

Given these and other facts concerning black cats, it is easy to see how they came to be associated with Halloween. Through the centuries, however, these connections were scattered, and most not widely held until they were brought to America.

Like Halloween itself, which didn't develop into a major holiday until after it came to America, the connection between black cats and witches didn't really develop until the Puritans came to America. While deeply religious, the Puritans who settled in the New England colonies saw the devil and evil everywhere.

Because of their association with witches, black cats were also looked upon as evil agents of the devil. This evil connection in the minds of the Puritans between black cats and witches led to black cats not being tolerated—let alone kept—in the colony.

Unlike the poor women who were wrongly accused of witchcraft in 17th-century Salem, Massachusetts, and neighboring colonies, who were at least given a trial before being executed, the poor black cats didn't even get a trial.

Legacy of the Puritans

While the Puritans were but one of many groups who settled this nation, their imprint on American culture has been significant.

Included in the puritanism that rubbed off on the culture was their suspicion of black cats. Despite the numerous cat lovers and owners (including owners of black cats) in this nation, there is still a strong link in many people's minds between black cats and witches.

It is not that people believe in evil witches roaming the countryside any more but when they hear the word witch the image that comes to most people's minds is still that of an ugly crone dressed in black and accompanied by a sinister looking black cat.

Modern Marketers Have Solidified Link Between Black Cats and Witches

However, while the Puritans may have been responsible for making the link between black cats and witches, it was the rise of Halloween as a holiday that shoved the idea of witches and black cats into the forefront of every one's mind.

Halloween is a holiday built in part around the ancient idea of a night when the barriers between our world and the spirit world are lifted allowing spirits to return and roam freely. In the past the idea of invisible spirits roaming the world may have instilled sufficient magic into the night for our more superstitious rural ancestors. But today's more sophisticated urban dwellers need something more concrete and marketers have obliged by pulling in evil and scary physical characters from our past.

Witches, goblins, skeletons, misty ghosts and, of course, scary black cats. Just as kindly old Saint Nicholas morphed from a bishop giving little gifts to good children on his feast day into a fat, jolly Santa Claus dressed in red and flying around the world dispensing toys from his huge sack to children on Christmas, so too, have black cats gone from being creatures who have occasionally been linked with witches in myths of the past to major players in our modern Halloween traditions.

Do you believe that a black cat crossing in front of you will bring bad luck?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2007 Chuck Nugent


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      8 years ago

      sorry for the last message and the confusion and dont care how to spell agian

      ps:winky face;)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      it was interesting and helping us with my detecting about my bffs cat and thank u 4 helping with my science project

      ps:we luv hub!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! & dont care how to spell

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      There is nothing WRONG with black cats. Because of old folklore superstitions and cults, they have been and continue to be misunderstood and subjected to hatred, pain and suffering. I have a black cat and I love him like a child. I love black cats as well as all animals. It is a shame what mankind has done to them as well as countless other animals who just want to live as much as we do.

    • dgicre profile image


      9 years ago from USA

      Very Interesting, always thought this went back to ancient times. See you learn something new every day here on Hubpages. :)

      I actually like Black Cats and think they are nice looking. Great Hub! Thanks ~~ dgicre

    • loveofnight profile image


      10 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

      good info tx 4 share

    • profile image

      Chris Friend 

      11 years ago

      Love Cats, Love Halloween, and by golly love the hub! Do more. Do more.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      12 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Great Hub! I'm not much on superstition but if I can avoid crossing that black cats path I will.

      Happy Halloween



    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)