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What Cat Superstitions Do You Believe In? Here Are 10 From Different Countries 

Cat Superstitions

The Oxford Dictionary defines superstition as a “belief in the existence or power of the supernatural; fear of the unknown and mysterious; a religion or practice or opinion based on such tendencies.”   

Every country has its own culture and beliefs regarding animals, especially cats. Stories and superstitions about these domestic companions vary from country to country. Cats are either viewed as bringers of bad luck or symbols of good fortune.  

We’ve listed 10 cat superstitions from around the world:

1. JAPAN 

Do you know where the waving cat or the Maneki Neko came from? A famous Japanese legend claims that a man was saved from being struck by lightning while he was sitting under a tree. While he was resting, he saw a cat waving at him from afar with one of its front paws, and as soon as he stood and approached the cat, lightning struck the tree where he was sitting.

Photo credit: Inside Japan

It is the Japanese belief that a beckoning or waving cat is a symbol of good luck. Eventually, this belief spread through the Chinese culture, and you would often see a beckoning cat, or Maneki Neko, in Chinese stores and business establishments to attract customers or clients.

2. EGYPT 

In ancient Egypt, animals were not just pets but were worshipped and idolized as gods or goddesses. Every animal has a significant symbol based on the animal’s characteristics, strengths, and traits.

According to the egyptianmuseum.org., Egyptians believed that a cat is the physical form of the goddess Bastet, who has the head of a cat and a slender female body. They described her as the goddess of protection, pleasure, and the bringer of good health.  

Photo credit: Cat Breeds

Cats were mummified in ancient times. Hundreds of thousands of mummified cats were discovered by modern archaeologists in the catacombs or underground cemeteries of Saqqara and Tell-Basta, which was also a worship site for the goddess Bastet.

Mummified cats were sold to pilgrims who would go to the Temple of Bastet in Tell-Basta to pray for favors and renewed strength and energy.  

3. NETHERLANDS 

Domesticated cats are found to be aloof and mysterious. They want to be left alone, and unlike dogs, it takes a while for cats to be friendly unless they are asking for some food. But don’t be fooled by that unfriendly mood, because these cats are also believed to have sharp hearing and can listen in while you are having conversations.

Photo credit: People

In the Netherlands, our cute feline friends are believed to be gossipy creatures who will tell all your deepest, darkest secrets. The Dutch caution people not to have a private conversation when a cat is around because they will happily spread the news around your neighborhood. 

4. ENGLAND 

In England, there’s an old superstition that cats cause storms at sea. There is a legend that a witch haunts the high seas as a four-eyed cat that has the power to influence storms. 

Photo credit: Naval Cats

The story says a woman was thrown overboard from a British ship on suspicion of being a witch. She sought out revenge, as the fleet believed it was bad luck to have a woman on board and wanted her to drown. Brit fishermen on board sea vessels still throw offerings into the water to steer clear of her ghost.

On the other hand, very superstitious sailors avoid saying the word “cat,” but having a black cat aboard a ship is believed to bring good fortune. The sailors’ wives used to keep black cats to ensure their husbands’ safe return. 

5. ITALY 

Cats were stigmatized in the Middle Ages and were burned and tortured because they were believed to be companions of witches.

Photo credit: Gatti Nerri

Italians have always been superstitious, and they believe that black cats bring bad luck to themselves and to their household. They say that if a black cat happens to cross your path, you must stop and take another route to avoid it.

Another belief during ancient times was that horses were afraid of the yellow eyes of a black cat, and if they crossed their path, it would cause the horse to stumble and derail the carriage.

6. KOREA 

South Koreans are no different from other cultures when it comes to superstitious beliefs about cats. Although there are hundreds of stray cats that are poisoned and beaten in South Korea, white cats play a significant role in Korean culture because they also believe that the appearance of a white cat is considered good fortune and enlightenment.

Photo credit: Spiritual Desk

In Korean culture, Korean White Cats are considered spiritual beings and regarded as special creatures. They’re believed to bring good luck, ward off negative energies, and purify the space around them. A white cat with its bright color is a sign of hope and optimism for them. 

7. RUSSIA

In Russia, the first day of March is an annual celebration called Cat Day in honor of their favorite animal. There are famous Russian cats who have made the news, like Achilles and Begemot, and a famous cat chief, Svetlana Logunova, to take care of stray cats.

Photo credit: Pexels/Cats

Cats are the favorite household pets in Russia. Russian Blue cats are considered very lucky. One well-known superstition in Russia is that a cat will protect the babies inside the cradle. New parents used to put a cat in the cradle to drive off evil spirits that might harm the baby. 

8. INDIA 

In Indian folklore, there are many stories and tales about cats that have been passed down from generation to generation. An ancient collection of fables, the Panchatantra, narrates a moral story about a cat’s cunning and deceptive character.

Photo credit: Pexels/Black Cat

Hindus associated the color black with Lord Shani. Shani signals impending bad luck. Hindus pray to Shani to ward off evil. It’s believed that when a black cat crosses the path you’re about to take, you should wait for someone to pass before you go. This way, the first person will have all the bad luck and you won’t. 

9. GERMANY 

The superstitious idea that black cats crossing your path brings bad luck is common in many countries, especially in Europe. Germans, call it Aberglaube or the strangest superstitious belief.

Photo credit: Pexels

In Germany, the Germans are very particular in the interpretation of this belief. According to them, the direction in which the black cat crosses your path would determine if it will bring you good luck or bad luck.

They have a saying like this:

“Schwarze Katze von rechts nach links, Glück bringt’s” means “Black cat from right to left brings luck. 

“Schwarze Katze von links nach rechts, was Schlecht’s” means “Black cat from left to right brings bad luck. 

10. THAILAND 

Thais believe that an animal that has the same color as the rain cloud can communicate with the angel of rain. Thailand is an agricultural country that relies on the arrival of rain, but in times of drought, farmers celebrate the cat parade or Rain-making parade.

Photo credit: Cat Breeds

When a Silver Blue cat, known as an A-Si Sawat cat in Thai, is paraded, homeowners will sprinkle water on the cat and ask for rain as the cat passes in front of their houses. Although the Silver Blue’s green eyes and fur resemble rain clouds, they also stand for fertility and the growth of plants.

For cat lovers, superstitions about cats do not matter. What matters is that these cuddly and lovable creatures, despite their independent nature, bring nothing but love and companionship to their lives. 

Source: Mental Floss, The Purring Journal, Paws and Whiskers

Written by Faye

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