Hey there friends, I’m Yvonne Page Illustrates and this is Facts to Relax, the show where I research topics I find interesting and share the info I learn with you while coloring a picture on the screen. Today I wanted to answer a question that’s always bothered me a little-why do witches always seem to have black cats? Is this something you’ve wondered too? If so, stick around because I have some answers! And hey, if you want to color along with me while we learn, there’s a link in the description below where you can download and print the coloring page on the screen too.
So let’s jump right into it. Why do witches always seem to have BLACK cats? Not just cats, but specifically black cats. Historically speaking, witches never seem to be just flying around with a calico or a tiger striped kitty. No. If you’re any kind of credible witch, your cat must be black. But WHY?
Well, the most basic and straightforward answer to this question that I could find is “coincidence.”
- Coincidence because both witches and cats are nocturnal, meaning that they tend to be out and about at night.
- Coincidence because black cats in particular are even better at blending into the dark at night than other cats and are therefore even more creepy than other cats.
- Coincidence because old ladies love cats and so when those old ladies start getting accused of witchcraft, people start doing some quick math and suddenly, witch equaled cat and cat equaled black cat.
- Coincidence because both witches and black cats were separately getting accused of similar bad things like the black plague and being friends with the devil and eventually people just started naturally pairing the two together.
- Coincidence because witches are known to wear black clothing and that makes black cats the ultimate, most stylish animal accessory for them. It’s like when you see a big muscly guy with a bulldog or a preppy rich girl with a tiny teacup yorkie in her purse. They just make sense together.
So yeah, that’s our short answer, a whole bunch of coincidence piled up higher and higher until they became one solid fact and that fact is that witches always have black cats.
But, of course, it’s deeper than just that. It always is, right?
First of all, it should be noted that witches weren’t always seen as “bad” or “evil” like they are now but somewhere around the middle ages, their reputations began to be severely marred. Previously just seen as quirky ladies who used herbs and magic to help heal people, suddenly witches began to be considered evil ne’er-do-wells who fraternized with the devil. But why this change in view? Well, this was essentially because witches were pagans in a time when a new, rival religion, Christianity was starting to spread throughout Europe. Paganism was the term created to describe any religion that believed in multiple gods or really any religion other than Judaism or Christianity, especially ones that were more indiginous and focused on the natural world. Paganism has become a catch-all term to include groups like Wiccans, Druids, Shamans, and Heathens. Now-a-days, the word pagan can still be associated with being somehow evil or, at least, less good than Christians, which is a quite unfortunate stereotype that helps no one. But back to the middle ages. At this time in history, Christianity was still pretty new and part of their marketing campaign to grow into a major world religion included, essentially, persecuting any religion or belief that was different than their own, while simultaneously taking over pagan holidays and rituals and replacing them with their own Christian ones- which is why we find things like trees and wreaths at Christmas and eggs and rabbits at Easter even though it’s a stretch to associate those things with Christianity or the bible. These symbols are all actually callbacks to early pagan celebrations held in the winter and the springtime, centered around the changing seasons and nature. Even Halloween stems from a Celtic new year ritual that was blended with Christian traditions thousands of years ago. If you want to learn more about that by the way, I did a video all about Halloween that I’ll link in the description. Now, I know this may sound pretty harsh and I’m not trying to offend any Christians here but it is a pretty well accepted historical fact that this is how the religion gained a foothold in many new places-by convincing locals that what they believed in was wrong and by persecuting anyone who didn’t get on board with their new system of beliefs, and that definitely included witches.
But what about black cats? How did they get dragged into this mess? Well, believe it or not, there was a time when black cats were actually revered in many places. The ancient Egyptians, for example, treated black cats like royalty and killing one was a capital offense, even worse than killing a cat of any other color. And in fact, black cats are still revered highly in some parts of the world, like Japan or Scotland where they may signify fortune and good luck to anyone who passes one. Coincidentally enough, it happened to really only be in the places where witches were being persecuted that black cats started to have a tough time as well. During the black plague, people started blaming black cats for the surge of deaths, associating their color with the devil, darkness, and death itself. What was actually happening, unbeknownst to the poor people suffering from the plague, was that the rats and other rodents were really the animals spreading the plague but since cats chase rodents and rodents are very good at hiding away, it was often cats, and especially black cats, who were seen around right before someone fell ill. This unfortunate misconception hurt not only the cats themselves but also the humans since when cats were banned and killed, the rodent population was able to grow even larger and spread the plague even farther and faster.
So with that bit of history on witches and cats separately, how did they become associated with each other? Well, besides all the coincidences, witches often had “animal companions” and sometimes they happened to be cats. Toads and mice were other popular pets but, let’s be honest here, cats tend to be a little more companionable than mice or toads and they live longer so it’s not too surprising that they were often the pet of choice. In a time rife with superstition and with not much science or factual knowledge to base beliefs on, not only were cats seen as the ultimate pets for witches, rumors started to circulate that cats actually were witches…either witches pretending to be cats or witches who had died and been reborn as cats as punishment for their past life’s sins. It was even believed by some that witches could transform themselves into cats nine times in their lives if they found themselves needing to be sneaky or get out of a sticky situation, ergo the saying “cats have nine lives.”
Anyways, from then on, things just really didn’t get any better for either black cats or witches and they were just basically paired together as the most evil duo that could be found. In fact, a woman didn’t even have to actually be a witch to be accused of being one, she just needed to own a black cat. In parts of Europe, if there was an old woman who owned a black cat living in a village that fell on hard times, it was NATURALLY assumed that she was a witch and both she and her cat would be punished for the hardships they’d caused. Wherever witch trials happened in Europe, black cats were persecuted as well and when the Puritans moved to the United States and people started accusing witches in Salem and beyond, black cats got it there too. You’d often see a witch AND her cat being burned at the stake together.
Now, modern day black cat-witch theories have really hung on, and not just because we like to pass our beliefs on from generation to generation for eternity. In the 1930s the pairing got a new boost when the Wiccan religion officially adopted the black cat as their mascot. It was like their way of turning the rumors around and saying “Yes, we do love black cats, and we’re proud of it! So what?” which I think is a pretty impressive way to take control of a historically bad narrative.
So that’s pretty much all the history of black cats and their witchy companions that I could find for us today and I hope that it’s helped to clarify why witches always seem to have BLACK cats for you too. If you come away with nothing else from this video, try to remember that neither black cats nor witches are evil like we’ve been made to believe and maybe when you’re considering adopting your next cat, give a black cat a chance. I can tell you from personal experience, that they can be wonderfully sweet pets and amazing hunters. Thanks so much for watching this video and learning something new with me and if you have a burning question you want me to try to answer, let me know in the comments. Don’t forget to subscribe and come back soon to color, chill, and learn something new with me again. Bye!
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