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The Spooky Superstition Surrounding Black Cats, Explained

Have you ever had a black cat cross your path and experienced a flash of nervousness? Maybe you joked about it being a bad omen, even against your better judgement. Why is this, though? Why does our culture associate black cats with bad luck, the supernatural, and Halloween? The reasons are fascinating, so feel free to accompany us as we dive deep into the dark history of black cats!

The superstition may go back to prehistoric times

Fascinatingly, mankind’s inherent fear of cats may have its roots in prehistoric times. Early man had to live with his head on a swivel because of voracious big cats — such as the saber-toothed tiger — that roamed the land.

Back then, human beings very much weren’t an apex predator. And that meant that if they weren’t extremely careful, they could easily find themselves becoming lunch for a ravenous carnivorous feline.

A primal fear

As a result, various experts have theorized that a deep-seeded fear of cats is somehow hardwired into the brain of the average human being on some sort of very primal level.

Over the course of centuries, this has lessened more and more, especially as cats became smaller and more domesticated, the idea goes. Perhaps it can’t be discounted that it’s still in there, deep down, in a lot of people, though.

A superstitious lot

Okay, that’s all well and good, but why are we specifically wary of black cats? Well, human beings can often be a lot like the criminals of Gotham City: a cowardly and superstitious lot.

It could be as simple as rudimentary cultural beliefs surrounding colors: black is often taken to denote death and evil, while white is generally held to be symbolic of all that is pure and good.

A struggle to connect?

There may be a more practical reason for it, too. Black cats are often hard to read in terms of their facial cues, because their fur is simply too dark for us to pick out the subtleties in what they’re trying to tell us.

Consequently, some experts believe that people can become emotionally distanced from these domesticated creatures, due to an ongoing struggle to connect with the animal and to understand what it wants.