The cat is a mystical creature, with a long and colourful history as the companion of man - revered by the ancient Egyptians (and many modern owners)! as Gods, yet reviled as witches familiars at various stages throughout history in many parts of the world. If you are a cat lover, you’re probably familiar with many of the myths, superstitions and omens surrounding cats, such as black cats being particularly lucky- or unlucky, depending upon your viewpoint, and cats having nine lives- but we’d wager that even the most committed of cat fanatics hasn’t heard everything just yet! Grab a cup of tea, bribe your favourite feline into your lap, and read on for our list of 25 unusual historical superstitions and omens pertaining to cats from all over the world. 1. A cat sleeping with all of their paws tucked under their body is supposed to foretell of rain on the way. 2. A cat sneezing once is also said to indicate rain; a cat sneezing three times, however, indicates that the humans of the household will catch a cold. 3. American folklore says that a cat washing its face on your front doorstep foretells of a visit from a member of the clergy. 4. Finding a white hair on a black cat is supposed to foretell of good luck. 5. In ancient Egypt, temple priests would observe cats carefully and use their mannerisms and behaviour as a scrying tool to predict the future! 6. Amish tradition says that a cat placed into the empty cradle of a newlywed couple will lead to conception- providing that the cat doesn’t jump right back out! 7. Similarly, in Hinduism, cats are the symbol of childbirth. 8. King Charles I believed that his own black cat was incredibly lucky, and that if any ill fate fell upon it, the kingdom would fall. Ironically, King Charles was arrested the day after his cat died of natural causes! 9. Yorkshire folklore says that owning a black cat is very lucky, but seeing a black cat other than one’s own was equally unlucky! 10. In Ireland, seeing a black cat by moonlight was supposed to foretell of an impending plague or infection for the entire locality. 11. American folklore says that rubbing the tail of a cat over one’s eyes would cure a sty! 12. If a tortoiseshell cat features in your dreams, you will supposedly be lucky in love. 13. The Norse Goddess of love and fertility, Freya, supposedly travelled in a chariot pulled by two black cats. We can only assume that they must have been panthers! 14. Kittens born in May were traditionally supposed to have had special powers and were associated with witches. As May and June are generally the peak months for new kittens entering the world, that’s a lot of witches cats in the making! 15. The phrase ‘has the cat got your tongue?’ Refers back to criminal law in England in ancient times, when one method of punishment was for the guilty party to have their tongue cut off and fed to the cats living within the royal court. 16. The cat is notably absent from the twelve animals represented within the Chinese zodiac- the lore goes that Buddha, on seeing a cat toying with mice and rats, decided that this sin warranted omission from the twelve desirable animal traits that eventually made the cut, and selected the rat instead! 17. New Age philosophy often says that cats can see the human aura or life force that is invisible to human eyes, and predict ill health or even death. 18. The early pilgrim immigrants to America believed that if a cat washed their face in front of a gathering of people, the first person that the cat looks at afterwards would be the first to marry. 19. In medieval England, it was commonly believed that if you wilfully killed a cat, you would automatically forfeit your soul to the devil. Modern cat lovers generally feel much the same way... 20. The wives of sea fishermen working in perilous waters believed that keeping a black cat would protect their husbands while they were away. This belief was so prevalent that in costal areas, demand for black cats would often far outweigh demand, leading to black cats changing hands for significant amounts of money and often being guarded closely to avoid having them stolen! 21. If a ship’s cat walked up to a sailor, this was supposed to foretell good luck and fortune for them. If the cat changed course part of the way there and went away again, this was said to foretell of a run of bad luck. 22. In England and Ireland, a black cat crossing your path is said to be good luck, but a white cat crossing your path, bad luck. In America, this is the other way around! 23. In France, carrying a cat over a stream or other body of running water is considered to be bad luck. This may be due to the cat’s desire to put as much distance between themselves and the wet stuff as possible! 24. If you ever see a one-eyed cat, tradition says that you should spit on your thumb before pressing it into the middle of your opposite palm while making a wish. Your wish should always come true! 25. Every cat owner will be familiar with the odd occasion when their cat will sit raptly concentrating on a spot in the middle distance where there is absolutely nothing there- this is said to be due to the cat’s ability to see ghosts. Sleep well! Many of these beliefs have gone down in the annals of history and folklore, as these tales were passed down from generation to generation as facts for centuries. Don’t take them too seriously, however- there is no basis in scientific fact for any of these superstitions, and there is no reason to believe any of them... Or is there!
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