Categories: halloween

Why are black cats associated with Halloween?

You can easily link black cats with the specific superstition that they were agents of the Devil. Some people still believe it. You can link black cats to witchcraft and cat familiars i.e. cats belonging to witches, but it is harder to link black cats to Halloween because Halloween is a celebration in which people remember the dead “including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed”. Or at least that was the original reason for its existence. It has transmogrified into a holiday when people watch horror movies and play trick or treat. There are Halloween costume parties and people carve pumpkins into Jack-o’-lanterns. The general tenor of this holiday is to frighten people and black cats and witches embody darkness and the Dark Ages when cats were persecuted, particularly black cats because they were considered to be especially fiendish (and scary).

Black cats and Halloween. Montage: PoC based on images in the public domain.


Back in the Middle Ages with high levels of superstition, the Christian church organised annual burning-cats-alive ceremonies on the day of the feast of St John. The all-black cat was considered the most depraved of Satan’s felines.

I think today the black cat is linked to Halloween because it is black and blackness signifies darkness and in turn darkness signifies a time when evil is carried out. The description of the Dark Ages is a tenuous link itself to darkness. The black cat is dark as well. You have a link there through the word “dark”. The black cat is an unfortunate vehicle through which people’s superstitions are manifested.

To be honest, it is a tenuous connection between black cats and Halloween in my view. In short, the connection comes from the cats of witches in the Dark Ages or Middle Ages when witches and their cats were persecuted and when black cats were considered to be especially fiendish.

It should be added that witches did not always live with black cats. The last witch to be killed in America lived with a bicolour cat (white and another colour). It is argued that because of black cat persecution in the Middle Ages, there are less black cats than their should be which resulted in black cats with a small white spot on their bodies becoming more commonplace. In other words religion was indirectly involved in selective breeding, if you like, by putting pressure on a cat’s colouration. Many black cats today are what we call tuxedo cats with a small patch of white hair on the body, normally their chest and around their whiskers. It is thought that this white patch is a sign of innocence and has been given the name of “Angel’s mask” or “God’s finger”.

Witchcraft was still practised in the UK in the 1970s. There are good and bad witches and I’m sure that witchcraft is still practised in various countries including America but it’s gone underground (but see below). Perhaps this is where some black cats unfortunately find themselves; at witchcraft ceremonies were sacrifices are made. Yes, people still believe in witchcraft and superstition. Superstition appears to be deeply ingrained in humankind’s psyche.

Gail writes in a comment:

Witchcraft/Wicca is practiced widely in the USA and in the open. Wicca is a recognized religion. For newbies, Wiccans are the “white” witches – those who believe in peace and are caretakers of the earth. We’re located about 30/miles from Salem, Massachusetts – whereby their major economy derives from the Witch Trials and all things related. There are covens everywhere throughout the USA.

Sources: Myself, PoC (previous articles and research), Cat World by Desmond Morris and Wikipedia.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

View Comments

  • Love the article; however, with one correction. Witchcraft / Wicca is practiced widely in the USA and in the open. Wicca is a recognized religion. For newbies, Wiccans are the "white" witches - those who believe in peace and are caretakers of the earth.

    We're located about 30/miles from Salem, Massachusetts - whereby their major economy derives from the Witch Trials and all things related. There are covens everywhere throughout the USA. That being said, most shelters will not adopt out black cats around Halloween. Too many weirdos out there.

    Personally, I love black cats. They're exotic-looking and just regal looking.

Recent Posts

My neighbour’s cat asks to be let in all the time, so is he neglected?

It is not uncommon for neighbourhood cats to want to visit neighbour's homes. You won't…

2 hours ago

Radon gas increases the chance of your cat getting lung cancer

Background Radon gas is a mysterious substance which appears to be all around us, all…

3 hours ago

12 facts about the Nebelung cat

Here are 12 listed facts about the Nebelung cat. I hope you find them useful.…

16 hours ago

21 reasons to take your cat to the vet

Here is a list of reasons to take your cat to the vet. Richard H.…

20 hours ago

Panicking man, giggling woman and complacent cats fail to catch a terrified mouse

I can understand the minor chaos caused by a mouse brought into the home by…

1 day ago

Average weight of a tiger in pounds

Web surfers want to know the average weight of a tiger in pounds. This might…

1 day ago