Cat Superstitions by Country

Superstitions about cats at the Great CatThroughout history cats have been seen as magical mystical creatures that are often times feared and sometimes revered.  Man’s emotional response, whether positive or negative, has given the cat an important place in superstition and folklore throughout the world.

Most cat superstitions came into being during the 12th and 13th centuries. Due to the infamous witch hunts, cats became associated with witches, black magic, evil and Satan. It was even believed that witches could transform themselves into cats, an idea stemming from the cat’s association with the ancient Roman goddess Hecate.

Superstitions about cats have occurred all over the world, and some are uncannily the same. Here you will find a list of organized cat superstitions by country.

 

ASIA/BUDDIST

  • A light colored cat will bring silver to the home of the owner. A dark colored cat will bring gold to the home of its owner.                                                                                                                           
  • A polydactyl is a bearer of good fortune.                                                                                                 
  • The body of a cat is the temporary resting place of the soul of a very spiritual person.
  • Buddhist, Burmese and Siamese cultures believed that the body of a cat is a resting place of the soul of a very spiritual person. These select souls would inhabit the felines for the rest of their natural lives, thus allowing the departed soul to gain access to Paradise.

 

CHINA

  • A black cat is an omen for hunger and poverty.                                                                                      
  • Cats can see ghosts and are able to protect us from evil spirits.

 

CZECHOSLOVAKIA

  • The cat is a symbol of fertility and one buried in a field of grain will guarantee a good harvest.

 

ENGLAND

  •  If a cat leaves a house for good, illness will always reign there.                                                             
  • If a cat claws at curtains, windy weather is predicted.                                                                            
  • In Wales, if a cat’s eyes were dilated, rain was on the way.                                                                    
  • Cats can cause storms at sea. There was a woman who was thrown overboard from a ship because she was accused of being a witch. In revenge, the woman called up a storm and wrecked the ship. This woman now haunts the sea as a cat. Fisherman still throw to her when out fishing in order to avoid her bad temper.
  • It is said that the house cat can tell whether the soul of the dead person has ‘gone to heaven or hell:  If immediately after death the house cat ascents a tree, the soul is ‘gone to heaven’; if it descends, the soul is ‘gone to hell’.                                                                                                               
  • If a funeral procession meets a black cat, another family member will die.                                        
  • Wives of fisherman on the Yorkshire coast believe that their menfolk will return safely if a black cat is kept in the house.                                                                                                                     
  • A cat sleeping with all four paws tucked under it means cold weather is coming.                           
  • A cat sleeping in a crib can suffocate a baby. In fact, a jury in Plymouth found a cat guilty of infanticide in 1791.                                                                                                                                                         
  • Whenever the cat of the house is black, the girls will have no lack of lovers.                                    
  • It is bad luck to chase away a black cat.                                                                                                      
  • If a cat washes behind its ears, it will rain.                                                                                               
  • If a young woman is unfortunate enough to step on a cat’s tail, she will not get married that year.                                                                                                                                                                
  • If a cat was placed inside the wall during the construction of a building, it would protect the house from rats. (Many old houses have been found to have cats buried in their walls.)
  • If a cat runs in front of a fisherman on his way to fishing, he will have good luck. However, if a cat just crosses his path, this is a bad omen.
  • To cure a sty on an eyelid, you needed to rub it with the tail of a black cat.

 

EUROPE

  • Cats are able to bring the dead back to life. In Southern Europe, if a cat jumped across a person’s grave, the person would come to life as a vampire.

 

FRANCE

 

  • The black magical cat, matagot, could bring wealth to its owner. 

 

  • Seeing a tortoiseshell cat in Normandy is an omen for a death by accident.

 

  • It is bad luck to cross a stream carrying a cat.

 

ICELAND

  • According to legend, there is a frightening Christmas Cat or Yule Cat, Jólakötturinn, who prowls the snowy countryside and eats anyone who did not get new clothes for the cold and wintery weather because this meant they had been lazy.

 

 

INDIA

 

  • Hindus believed the cat was the symbol for fertility and childbirth.

 

  • Grey Cats are lucky.

 

  • If when setting out for a journey, you see a cat on your left side, then this is considered a good omen.

 

  • When a cat gives birth to kittens, this is believed to be a good omen, as evil spirits will never enter the house. It is also believed that there will be prosperity for the family within three months.

 

  • If a cat follows a person coming out of a house, then there will be a monetary gain for the family.

 

  • Repeatedly wiping one ear three or more times is an indication that guests are expected.

 

  • Seeing three black cats together is considered very lucky.

 

  • If you see a cat while entering a city, village or house, it is a bad omen.

 

  • If a cat licks the foot of a woman, her father in law may face danger for his life.

 

  • If a cat licks the forehead of a lady, then it is considered bad for her husband’s health and life.

 

  • If a cat jumps on a sleeping person, it is considered a bad omen.

 

  • If a cat calls repeatedly while someone is going out of a house, then there will be some danger to that woman or man’s life in the near future.

 

INDONESIA

  • Wet cats make it rain.  If people wanted it to rain, they would pour water over the cat. The cat then, in revenge, would make it rain.

 

IRAN

  • Accidentally eating a cat hair will cause madness.

 

  • Splashing water on a cat one may cause warts.

 

  • Killing a cat produces fainting spells or death, and beating it, especially in the dark, is certain to cause homelessness.

 

  • To cure female infertility take some cat hair, some game meat, and a string of seven colors to the bathhouse and cast them in the oven. 

 

IRELAND

  • A large black cat with a white patch on its chest, called the Cat Sith, wanders around Ireland and Scotland looking for dead souls. If she was able to curl up near the body, she could take the soul of the deceased person.

 

  • Ancient Celts believed a cat’s eyes were the doorway to another world.

 

  • A kitten born in May (especially on the first of May) will become ill behaved and troublesome. It may even be responsible for bringing snakes into the house.

 

  • To kill a cat brings seventeen years of bad luck.

 

  • A black cat crossing one’s path by moonlight means death in an epidemic.

 

ITALY

  • If a cat lay on the bed of a sick man, he would die.                                                                                
  • A cat sneezing is a good omen for everyone who hears it. It means money is coming your way. However, if a cat sneezed three times, you will come down with a cold.

 

JAPAN

  • Japanese Bobtails are less likely to bewitch you.

 

  • Japanese sailors have long taken tricoloured or me’kay cats on their ships to bring them good luck.

 

  • The figure of a cat with its left paw raised, the beckoning cat, is believed to bring good fortune to its owner.

 

  • Tortoiseshell-and-white cats are the luckiest, especially tortie tomcats (as they are quite rare).

 

  • If a cat washes its face, it is a prediction that a visitor will be arriving.

 

  • If a cat was born with a black mark on its back and the black mark resembled a woman wearing a kimono; one had to show the cat the utmost respect. The mark meant that the spirit of a lost ancestor possessed the cat.

 

  • Black cats can heal sick children and even guard against evil entering your home.

 

  • If a cat is grooming itself, that means unexpected visitors are coming.

 

  • In ancient Japan, it was thought that somewhere on the tail of a cat there was a single hair that would restore life to a dying person. 

 

MADAGASCAR

 

  • In Madagascar it was believed that the souls of the unburied dead would enter a cat.

 

ROMANIA

  • Transylvania, if a cat jumps over a corpse, the corpse will become a vampire.

 

RUSSIA

  • When moving into a new home, always let the cat enter first for good luck.

 

  • Russian Blue Cats are considered lucky.

 

SCOTLAND

  • A strange black cat on your porch brings prosperity.

 

  • If a cat entered a room where a dead body was lying in state, the next person to touch the cat would be blinded.

 

THAILAND

  • The Korat cat is considered to be a lucky cat bringing prosperity to its owners. The Korat cat was often used in rain-making ceremonies. Water would be poured on the cat believing this would call forth the rain clouds.

 

  • Two Korat cats could also be given to a bride as a wedding gift to ensure prosperity. The Korat cat’s fur symbolized silver.

 

THE NETHERLANDS

  • Cats are able to spread gossip, so they were not allowed in rooms where private family discussions were going on.                                                                                                                         
  • To reverse the bad luck curse of a black cat crossing your path, first walk in a circle, then go backward across the spot where it happened and count to 13.

 

UNITED STATES

  • If you see a one-eyed cat, spit on your thumb, stamp it in the palm of your hand, and make a wish. The wish will come true.

 

  • The Pennsylvania Dutch placed a cat in a newlywed’s empty baby cradle. The cat was supposed to grant their wish for children.

 

  • In the American South, those who drowned cats were punished by the devil.

 

  • If a cat sat on your grave, you were possessed by the devil. And two cats fighting either on a grave, or near a dying person, were actually an angel and a demon fighting over the soul.

 

  • A cat can decide whether or not a girl should get married. The debating bride-to-be takes three hairs from the cat’s tail and wraps them in paper, which she then places under her door step. If in the morning, the cat hairs are arranged in a Y pattern, the answer is Yes, but if the hairs form the letter N, the answer is no.

 

  • Dreaming of white cat means good luck.

 

  • To see a white cat on the road during the day is lucky.  

 

  • It is unlucky to see a white cat at night. (American superstition)

 

  • Pennsylvania German tradition, cats can help a woman who is anxious to get married. All she has to do is “feed the cat from her shoe,” although the superstition doesn’t say what’s supposed to happen next—or how to get the uneaten cat food out of the shoe.                                
  • To see a white cat on the road is lucky.

 

  • It is bad luck to see a white cat at night.                                                                                                   
  • When moving to a new home, always put the cat through the window instead of the door, so that it will not leave.

 

UNKNOWN

  • If a black cat walks onto a ship and then back off again, the ship will sink on its next voyage.

 

 

Want to know more about the cat in literature, art and history? Then Revered and Reviled is the book for  you. Now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. 

 

Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat, cat history, cats

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